By Emily Hunt
Los Angeles is ugly as sin and full of adorable, desperate, dogged hopes. At 7:30 p.m. on March 26, I stood in an unattractive, rainy parking lot, looking at four musicians loading their musical equipment into the tiny front doors of Pehrspace.
The venue itself is jammed in the corner of a strange strip mall on Glendale Boulevard, wedged between Bangkok Express Thai and Praise Chapel, a somewhat bizarre gospel-singing church congregation.
The interior of the space, however, is more remnant of a basement: Bluish lights illuminate the makeshift stage and avant-garde art covers the walls. All in all, the location seems fitting for the home base of Easter Everywhere, a Los Angeles-born record label, and its bi-monthly installment of its “Verse/Chorus/Verse/Chorus” event, a concert of alternating experimental and pop music. Founded and co-owned by a small group of writers, photographers and bands such as Princeton and Sleeping Bags, Easter Everywhere filled the venue with their friends and acquaintances.
Liam Mooney, a graduate of CalArts and experimental musician, described his performance to me with some reservation, hinting at the likelihood that the audience would have enough of him after about thirty minutes. When he began playing, I could see why.
Mooney started and ended the performance crouched on the venue’s cement floor, shrouded by four large drums. He placed vacuum valves atop each drum set and adjusted them so within his twenty minute set, the atonal vibration went from a buzz to a full-throttle affront to the audience’s eardrums. When Mooney switched off the vacuums, the audience was silent for a few seconds as my ears began to breathe again and it seemed as if all my senses had somehow been elevated. I couldn’t shake that wonderful crashing noise out of my head as I returned to shouting with the other patrons.
The night regained a more mainstream feel to it after that — a performance by the country/folk rock band The Traditionalist, whose poppy and somewhat lovelorn sound delighted and soothed my eardrums. I felt like I was watching a really good cover band, and after the intensity of Mooney’s performance, I welcomed a return to the mundane.
Going with the order suggested by the title of the event, the next performance was by Combat!, an ambient artist whose sound, while soothing, seemed too computerized to be deemed exactly “experimental.” The night was rounded off by the bizarre and catchy group, Learning Music. With vocals alternating between eerie and poppy and instrumentals bordering on a funky, improvisational jazz sound, Learning Music was easily the most-accessible cool staple of the night. The merchandise corner also sold Learning Music albums — all 36 of them, one a month for three years. The entire event ended with an eclectic dance party to a DJ set that played dance tunes from the Talking Heads to Kanye.
An astounding addition to the night was the lack of pretention and abundance of good-willed joviality. The people there, dressed hipster or not, created a community of general appreciation for music and a sanctuary within the jungle that is Los Angeles.
I drove my humorously intoxicated companion home and turned my sober eyes to LA’s skyline. The banks’ skyscrapers and glittering symbols of corporate America towered against the black sky as we whizzed past. I knew in between all of these buildings, people had holed themselves into apartments, basements, venues and concert halls, and were creating music and art in their respective hovels with their respective strings of desperate artists. As the memory of the clamoring din of Liam Mooney’s vacuums began to fill my ears, I couldn’t help but think that Los Angeles — somber cement, artificial glitz, soulless commercialization and all the people crammed in between it all — is beautiful.