With a new venue and a different strategy, Indie West Fest returns to Ventura for the second time, July 27-29. What was an outdoor, one-day event at the Ventura County Fairgrounds last year is now an indoor, three-day event at the Ventura Theater. Though the music isn’t necessarily according-to-Hoyle indie, the lineup is 99.9 percent born west of the Mississippi. In the tradition of independent artistry, promoter Michael Jones has put together a celebration that pays reverence to its heroes and welcomes its freshmen.
Each day’s roster follows a loose theme with a few wild cards thrown in for good measure. Friday caters to the artsy hipster types with Gardens & Villa headlining; Saturday is more pop-driven with the exception of Shoddy Cons (a hip-hop ensemble named after a passage from Kerouac’s On the Road); and Sunday’s emphasis on American roots promises to be a barn-burner with performances by Jackass and X. Contrary to what an old press release on the Indie West Fest website reads, Dengue Fever will not be performing.
An interesting addition to the new and improved Indie West Fest is the medium of film, which will be represented with two screenings: Bob and the Monster about Bob Forrest’s evolution from ’80s Hollywood party animal and singer for Thelonious Monster to Dr. Drew’s right-hand rehab man; and Color Me Obsessed, “the potentially true story about the last great band:” indie pioneers The Replacements.
Tickets are $15 for Friday, $20 for Saturday and $35 for Sunday or $60 for all three days — $70 for VIP. Doors open at 7 p.m. each night. Film screenings are Saturday and Sunday, 4 p.m. For more information, visit www.indiewestfest.com.
FRIDAY, JULY 27
This adorable Nashville trio has been making sweet indie sounds since 2004. It’s released four albums and numerous singles and EPs and shared the bill with the likes of the Black Keys, Silversun Pickups, The Dead Weather and Kings of Leon. Comedian Patton Oswalt starred in an Ettes video. Band members like to put spooky talismans and masked mannequin guards in front of their home when they tour.
Genre: Beat punk.
Claim to fame: Vocalist Lindsay “Coco” Hames, who also founded The Parting Gifts, is a culinary adventurer who makes a legendary matzo ball soup.
Quoted: “It’s all right to say no and it’s all right to say goodbye.” –Coco Hames
The promoter says: “A very cool garage rock band I first saw in Silverlake a few years ago. They were at Indie West Fest 2011, and we have had so many requests to have them play again that there are back.”
Looking forward to: The Muffs and X.
Gardens & Villa
What happens when the beach meets the keyboard: a cool, laid-back sound reminiscent of the soul of a Southern California lazy Sunday. With such a relaxed temperament, it’s a riddle how Gardens & Villa expertly creates an exciting atmosphere alongside rounded, complex vocals to a danceable beat.
Genre: Indie folk.
Claim to fame: In 2010, Gardens & Villa disappeared into the wooded mystery of Nor Cal and returned with its debut EP, which in turn got the band to Coachella.
Quoted: “A lot of my songwriting comes from a desire to open myself up to nature and the universe, experiences with love, my subconscious, childhood memories, imagination and various cocktails of each.” — Christopher Lynch, guitar, vocals
The promoter says: “A very unique flute-fronted (they make flutes look cool) Santa Barbara national touring band that formed following the collapse of a noisier post-punk band and a hitchhiking journey up the West Coast.”
Gypsy Death Star
Gypsy Death Star, fronted by Wyatt Hull and made exceedingly spooky by Cesar Augusto, is the pinnacle of Ventura dance. Seen routinely in the nooks and crannies of the city’s many haunts, GDS has captured the recognition of dance fans worldwide. In France, where the pair is considered an electronic demi-god, its single Birds and Beasties has ravaged the countryside.
Genre: Electronic alternative dance.
Claim to fame: Gypsy Death Star’s Jackhammer and Werewolf Heart received regular rotation on indie radio outlets, while Hull and Augusto’s penchant for helping up-and-coming musicians makes them the philanthropic kings of the Ventura music scene.
Quoted: “We have a live theatrical energy, some pretty lights, a circuit bent Nintendo, fog machine and, last but not least, a big-ass sub woofer.”— Wyatt Hull
The promoter says: “I love their modern electronic dance sound, which to me is impossible to label or put in a specific genre. A must-see live band as Wyatt has the ability to really get the crowd going.”
Looking forward to: Gardens & Villa.
Photo by Neal Casal
A recent music collaboration between some already well-known peeps from Ventura’s music scene, may be the best thing any of them has done to date. The band is Seth Pettersen (surfer and kung fu artist), Sasha Green (old-school freestyle rapper from the streets of Panama), Mike Gleeson (UFO enthusiast who also loves puppies) and Bryan Russell (of the wrestling duo Russell Mania). Though their name sounds like a punny political statement, it’s actually a Spanglish word for the ’80s anime robot Mazinga-Z.
Genre: Bilingual surf garage.
Claim to fame: Legendary food fights.
Quoted: “Sometimes these things just happen; talented folk come together, and all of a sudden they’re unexpectedly creating fantastic music and sporadically forming a great new band. But to take that magic and within a few short months crank out an entire LP, live in the studio, a full-length debut that’s enjoyably good from start to finish, that’s something especially rare.” — Dirty Hippie Radio
The promoter says: “Another great Ventura band that is a blast to see live. I like their reverb-laden guitar riffs with Sasha’s unique vocal style.”
Looking forward to: Pangea.
Photo by Alexander Uhrich
Not to be confused with the multitude of artists with the same name, this Pangea is the one that cool people are name dropping. Part of the Burger Records family (keeping the cassette tape alive), the band is currently recording with Ryan Adams, by His Majesty’s request. They say he’s “A hell of a lot of fun to record with,” and, “He’s got a great ear.” They have only one influence: Thin Lizzy.
Genre: Bubblegum surf punk.
Claim to fame: The ability to make the audience members jerk in one continuous motion for hours on end.
Quoted: “If Pangea don’t go somewhere in 2012, I’ll eat my other foot and install prosthetic feet with roller skates attached to them.” — Nu Rave Brain Wave
The promoter says: “A band suggested by a friend. I love their trashy garage sound.”
Looking forward to: They really want to see X but, sadly they aren’t playing the same night.
SATURDAY, JULY 28
Named for the car in A Clockwork Orange, this band was a vital part of Ventura’s late ’80s music scene. The current lineup includes Matt Muldoon on lead guitar vocals; Chuck Herrera on drums; Russ Anguiano on bass and vocals; and one of the nicest guys and hardest workers you’ll ever see fronting a band, Frank Barajas, on guitar and vocals. This long-awaited reunion is the band’s second performance in more than 20 years.
Genre: Cali-Brit pop.
Claim to Fame: Beating Raging Arb and the Redheads in a Battle of the Bands.
The promoter says: “One of the first bands I saw live in Ventura when I moved here over 20 years ago. They are the perfect complement to The Smithereens.”
Looking forward to: The Smithereens and the Muffs.
A product of Agoura Hills-based School of Rock, this young classic rock-oriented band has received quite a buzz among famous rockers, most notably Stone Temple Pilots, which it has toured in support of. STP bassist Robert DeLeo has been working on the production end of things. The band has also opened for Creed.
Genre: Adolescent classic rock.
Claim to fame: The youngest band to ever play the Sturgis motorcycle rally.
Quoted: Upon hearing that the drummer Ben Zelico was getting his driver license, comedian George Lopez remarked, “Vato might not have pubes but at least he’ll be legal!”
The promoter says: “I had no idea of the talent these boys possess! They are still teenagers and have toured with Stone Temple Pilots and Black Rebel Motorcycle Club.”
Looking forward to: The Smithereens.
Formed in 1991, The Muffs’ music is everything that was great about the decade that brought us Nirvana, Hole and Green Day. Led by the wonderful screams of leading lady Kim Shattuck (previously of the Pandoras), The Muffs were born out of the pop-punk explosion, and signed to Warner Bros. Records in 1993. Joined later by Roy MacDonald (Red Kross), the Los Angeles-based trio has been touring the world and consistently writing new material for two decades.
Genre: Hard bubblepunk.
Claim to fame: A band fight on stage at the infamous Raji’s actually turned to fisticuffs (fistimuffs?) as the pumped-up audience fed on the hysteria.
Quoted: “Muffs road stories usually end with me going to jail — or cuffed.” — Kim Shattuck, lead singer.
The promoter says: “I get hundreds of requests, submissions and suggestions, but this one came by way of my girlfriend’s co-worker. He kept saying we should book his son-in-law’s band. When I found out the band was the The Muffs, I was stoked to say the least.”
Looking forward to: X.
Perhaps no other band in the Ventura area has more street cred than the Shoddy Cons, and we’ll go out on a limb to say that it’s the only band on the Indie West bill that features a three-time Grammy award winner. Its sound, once described as “So Cal skate-punk meets post-Ebonics hip-hop, ” has created a buzz during the past two and a half years, and seems to create more sparks with each show. Most recently, the Cons shared the bill at the Ventura Theater with Public Enemy and Talib Kweli.
Genre: Eccentric hip-hop.
Claim to fame: Longest-working Ventura band without an album.
Quoted: “Your husband is in the Shoddy Cons? They’re a bunch of druggies and drunks.” – Anonymous.
The promoter says: “A very original band fusing together hip-hop, blues and post-proto-punk. Although hip-hop dominates the charts, this band will bring a new flavor to Indie West Fest.”
Looking forward to: JetStream.
At the starting line of the ’80s pop revolution were The Smithereens. Pat DiNizio’s smooth vocals beguile the heavy accompaniment, a virtual yin and yang of the college beer pong tournament with the serious collector seeking out the band’s chart-topping album 11. This year’s Indie West Fest is the band’s only California stop.
Genre: Alternative rock, power-pop.
Claim to Fame: The Smithereens’ Blood and Roses became the theme song to the 1986 film Dangerously Close. In 2007 the band released a track-by-track homage to Meet the Beatles called, you guessed it, Meet the Smithereens.
Quoted: “What other band can claim to be an influence on both Nirvana and The Jersey Shore?”— Real Music Alternatives
The promoter says: “Although not the first band you would think of as an indie band, but nobody does that jangly, rockin’ 1960s pop better than these guys. One of my all-time faves.”
Looking forward to: The Muffs.
Whiskey Glass Eye
A rough-around-the-edges rock band with an alt-country twang and punk rock soul that’s been steadily building a local following since forming in 2008. Its songs have been featured in three films: The Boys of Abu Ghraib, House of Purgatory and Exhibit X. WGE has also made some cool music videos starring frontman and real-life actor/model Ed Kasper. The band has opened for The Donnas and Nashville Pussy.
Genre: Alternative rock with a splash of Southern Comfort.
Claim to Fame: Getting on Marko DeSantis’ (Sugarcult) Endless Party! show on Moheak Radio, sandwiched between The Utters and Gaslight Anthem.
Quoted: “No one called me, I doubt they ever will.”—From “Wish I Had a Life.”
The promoter says: “Ed Kasper’s pop sensibilities in his songwriting is a mix of Replacements, Ryan Adams and Lucero.”
Looking forward to: Durango 95.
SUNDAY, JULY 29
The music of Jackass makes you feel dirty, but in a good and sexy way. It’s got a honky-tonk, roots/country-western/punk swagger that snarls and kicks but with enough groove that you’ll grab the person next to you and begin grinding your hips together without restraint. For 13 years, these rockers have toured the country with some of the biggest names in the business, and their record Plastic Jesus on BYO has stood the test of time. Like a fine wine, these rebels only get better with age.
Genre: Punk ranchero.
Claim to Fame: Opening for George Jones in Prescott, Ariz., and meeting Joe Strummer while playing the Hootenanny with the Mescaleros.
Quoted: “The songs I wrote came to be, and I like that medium: three chords and the truth.” – Toby Emery, frontman
The promoter says: A mainstay in Ventura’s local music scene for over 13 years (and a band I play upright bass in). Few bands at this year’s event have a résumé as extensive as Jackass. Toby Emery, Billy McGraw — original members of Raging Arb and The Redheads; Peter Finestone — original drummer of Bad Religion; John Phaneuf of Ill Repute fame.”
Looking forward to: The Bob Forrest film.
Kitschy, vocal harmony-driven pop music for post-punk, last-wave boomers presented with zest and style. In one exhale, the three gorgeous singers deliver the sweet and sultry, while the backing band grinds out gritty garage sounds of bygone times. Think B52s, Supremes and the Shangri-Las.
Genre: Trashy Motown.
Claim to fame: They never have a bad hair day. Ever. (The girls, anyway).
Quoted: “Badfinger had amazing harmonies.”— Michael Jones, guitar
The promoter says: “My other band that I play in with my 20-year-old son that is also a big local draw.”
Looking forward to: X, The Ettes, The Smithereens, Old Man Markley.
Old Man Markley
From the bluegrass capital of Southern California (San Fernando Valley) comes Old Man Markley, a kitchen-sink concoction of everything rustic and down-home, with a punk sensibility. At last year’s Indie West Fest, Markley drew a large midday crowd to watch its frenetic bass-thumping, washboard strumming give-’em-hell spirit.
Genre: Bluegrass punk.
Claim to fame: With members from L.A.’s punk scene (Youth Brigade, Angel City Outcasts), Old Man Markley’s contingent of eclectic, multitalented instrumentalists have sold out pubs and clubs across the country. The debut album Guts ‘n’ Teeth cemented its knack for bucking at the foundations of traditional bluegrass, crafting a sound uniquely its own.
Quoted: “Bluegrass is very genre-specific, I guess we are mainly a bluegrass band with a punk approach. It’s so weird to say what it really is: I think it’s good-time music.” — Joey Garibaldi, bassist and vocalist.
The promoter says: “A band I first saw in Las Vegas at Punk Rock Bowling. They are a crowd pleaser with high-energy show and infectious toe-tapping tunes.”
Looking forward to: Jackass.
With its manic, whiskey-soaked semi-autobiographical songs about love and insanity, The Pullmen have been tearing up So Cal stages and making drunk girls swoon for the past year. The first video from the band’s debut album The Western Score will premiere at Indie West Fest on Sunday. The Pullmen have played with Pennywise, Old Man Markley and Donovan Frankenreiter.
Genre: Western thrash.
Claim to fame: First band to write a song about child endangerment in Oak View.
Quoted: “When you make music that sounds like Waylon Jennings drank a whole goddamn bottle of whiskey and wants to kill you, you get the ’Stache License.” — The Loyalist Proclamation
The promoter says: “A Ventura band with a bright future that I never get tired of seeing. A must-see band on a must-see night.”
Looking forward to: The Bob and the Monster movie and X.
You should need no introduction to this legendary punk band, because if it hadn’t existed, chances are that neither would much of today’s indie music. Pioneers of the late ’70s-early ’80s L.A. punk scene, and one of the few that knew how to play its instruments — and play them well — no band from that era has had the longevity and fan loyalty X has. Featuring John Doe, Exene Cervenka, Billy Zoom and DJ Bonebrake, the band was immortalized in the documentary film The Decline of Western Civilization and in its own film The Unheard Music.
Genre: American punk rock.
Claim to Fame: First punk band to spring from the famed Beyond Baroque poetry community in Venice.
Quoted: “Punk rock lasted for about five years: 75-80, 81. Like the T-shirt says: Punk’s not dead, it just sucks now.”— Exene
The promoter says: “A no-brainer picking this band. They almost invented indie rock when they started the band 35 years ago when the record labels controlled the airwaves and wouldn’t give them the time of day. I have opened for this band five times in 20 years with five different bands, which is a commentary on my musical career and testament to their longevity.”