Repeated visits to Los Angeles open new vistas, good and bad. How this city has transformed in my memory and experience. Downtown is not the Downtown of my '60s youth. And yet it is. The play is the same. Only the décor changes. The scene shifts somewhat and the hand props are different. Costumes vary. But the text is basically constant. Modern dress does not conceal the classical themes. There is a divide. A contrast. In current observation, one comes to the realization that the United States in cosmopolitan terms, is a Third World Nation.
But I digress...perhaps.
We are here, for the Rock Show! (And a bit of culture, albeit of a pop nature.) And it's Oesterreich. Easter.
Having returned from last year's splendid pair of King Crimson shows at the Orpheum on Broadway, we are now venturing to uncharted territory in the Umberto Echo Park District for French faves Magma.
Yes, it's Magma. A SPACE PIRATE RADIO mainstay since 1974, it is our second experience with Christian and Stella Vander and ensemble in real time since San Francisco, 1999. A new venue for us, the well known Bohemian club, the Echoplex, basement club of the Echo, on the David Lynch side of Sunset Blvd. I have reservations. Both literal and figurative. I am pleasantly surprised.
My hesitation about the club was predominated by the fact that the show was a standing room gig. Being of the Elderly Persuasion and having been spoiled by the sit down, audio enriched atmosphere of Magma's performance at the Palace of Fine Arts, I was afraid the new environment would turn Magma into a Munchen Bier Hall Post Punk Moshen Space Party. This was not the case, danke sehr Meine Gott im Himmel.
The nicely darkened club has side seating, a seemingly well stocked bar, food options (neither of which I felt necessary to enhance the experience, except for the seating) and a cool moderne retro beat feel. A House of Blues without the tie-ins, more bongos and near blitz Underground lighting. I can dig it! :)
Magma, as always, are an experience musical unlike any other. For the uninitiated, I will not even begin to explain. Explore for yourself. Seductive, challenging, mesmerizing, and sometimes a tad creepy. If Buddy Rich and his Orchestra had been taken over by the pods from Invasion of the Body Snatchers, or Carl Orff had taken mescaline during Carmina Burana sung in Esperanto Jazz.
Day 3 is a return to the Japanese American National Museum for Hello Kitty. The wife has a more personal youthful connection to the feline changeling than myself, but I'm more geared for it than say, a Hockney exhibition.
The layout is impressive, though the set up feels like a maze for human mice. I'm glad I never started collecting in this field, 'cause one could go mad trying to be completist. The varied items are an impressive lot, but even the wife notes items missing from her youth. And speaking of youth, how ancient I feel when the dawn of the Nippon Gatto is 1974, the same year of SPACE PIRATE RADIO's debut. The pitch of the display comes off a bit too sales pamphlet promotional. Extolling the merits of the "brand." There is the feel of a franchise convention. Fortunately the displays of art captivate and looking at the gallery attendees, I wonder how many hipsters drop acid and visit this fantasy land. I was only saddened not to see the Hello Hitler image. The Hello Kitty Tarot Cards, however, were a pleasant surprise.
An added surreal moment is the fact that after facing the Afterlife with a massive Kittypatra figure (or as I call the Egyptian statue, NefferKitty), one is faced with an exit that leads to a display on Japanese Internment Camps. Quite a segue.
Returning to the clouds, in our favourite suite, or its doppelganger ein flur below, we contemplate the city. Coruscant...in the day, Gamorrah by night. Off World vehicles above.
The morning is greeted by the sounds of African American mantras of anger to the THX 1138 LAPD. A Day of Continued Adventure Awaits...Sending a message from Western Union Station. The Trendy Train Set will be boarding. Exit North.
"The city is sinking
But music remains
Beware Metropolis." :)