Tuesday, May 09, 2006

Music Does Exist in the City of Salas

So much of my recent stuff has revolved around music and events happening outside of my hometown that it's easy to forget there's a scene in Salas. This weekend, I got a fresh reminder.
Although the Cinco De Mayo weekend had a lot to do with it, there were actually two shows in town to speak of: punk rock fare at La Perla in Downtown (which has become the hot spot for indy rock/punk in the absence of The Cherry Bean) and dub-rock/roots reggae across the street at the American Legion Hall (of all places).
I ventured into the smokey confines of the American Legion (motto: "Don't be fooled by the whole crusty old guy motif, we do have some hip stuff going on"). On stage, the homies from Wasted Noise, a five-piece ska/punk outfit from Salinas, were setting it off pretty good.
I've seen these guys do random shows around town (The Cherry Bean, Lava Lounge, La Perla) and get better and better with each set. Their sound is par with the dub-rock sound that seems so popular around these parts; lots of skank guitar and one drop drum patterns with heavy bass and catchy lyrics. It would be easy to put them in a box and compare them to 311, Slightly Stoopid or any other so-Cal skank-rock artist, but the vibes are similar.
What impressed me was the solid groove they all settled into towards the end of their set (I got there midway through the set, when everyone was kind of just standing around and afraid to get on the dance floor). Their second to last song got all the fly heinas on the dance floor doing their thing, and the lead singer/drummer seemed to conduct the band from behind a thick wall of speakers (you could barely see the guy). He somehow managed to stand up and sing, play the drums, and lead the audience in a call and response all at once. And the rest of the band kept pace, never once dropping a riff (as is the tendency of new bands playing unfamiliar venues) or missing a beat. Definitely a strong finish.
(The cutest thing: after the show, the mom of one band member came up to me and asked if I would do a feature story on her son's band. Look for an article in the near future, thanks to mom).
My boys Cali Nation batted second. Full disclosure: I did join the group for a song, the buffed up cover of "Hotel California" mixed with a little "California Love." But watching Cali navigate a show is always a fun time.
These guys have been playing together so long, the songs almost fall into one another seamlessly. Their set definitely kept the energy of the night going, and set the table for Dubwize' homecoming.
And Dubwize delivered a typically solid set, mixing high-traction dub riddims with quicker dance numbers. These guys are like rasta-revving combustible engines that hum with smooth efficiency.
The whole point of this blog isn't to necessarily size up the artists that night, nor try and write some sort of wild-eyed fan boy love letter praising the evolution of a sorely needed music scene in my hometown. It's simply to put it out there that live entertainment can happen in Salinas like clockwork, with little to no promotion and unnecessary authoritative presence (both shows went off without a hitch, and everyone was respectful of the venue and the music).
And regardless of whether or not there's ever a legit "scene" in my hometown or not, music will always have a presence. This week, Vicente Fernandez makes a return trip to town, probably the 20th time he's come through. He loves Salinas, and Salinas loves him, and that's why he always makes it a point to come here. He could easily sell out HP Pavillion or something (and I'm sure he will at some point this year) but he chooses Salinas because the fan base is there, and folks do just want to come out and have a good time.
That's what it's supposed to be about.

No comments: