In July, I wrote a story for LAist about how there are loads of cheap or free concerts happening in L.A., but finding out about them has become increasingly difficult because social media sucks and local music coverage is virtually nonexistent. It was a popular story. I ended up talking about it on LAist radio twice, including a spot that ran on Morning Edition. Loads of people told me they were having the same issue finding out about shows. Someone even came up to me while I was DJing at Underground and mentioned reading it.
Yet, the problem persists because we are living in hardcore monopoly times ruled by corporate overlords who prioritize ads and viral content over useful information and updates from the people and businesses that we choose to follow.
I mention this because, on Tuesday morning, I saw a post from a pop-up vinyl vendor that I follow on Instagram that dated back six days and was regarding a record fair that happened on Sunday. I don’t know what algorithm decides that a nearly week-old post about an event that already happened is relevant, but that’s the Internet we’ve got right now.
The catch, however, is that I actually was at the record fair. It was a night market from In Sheep’s Clothing and Japonesia at Homage Brewing in Chinatown. I found out about it either Saturday night or Sunday morning, when I was flipping through Instagram stories and saw that at least two people I know from the clubs had shared the flyer. You could say that the moral of the story is that we need to share each other’s events more often and that’s not a terrible takeaway, but it’s also a bandaid. We really just need to rip up the social networks and start all over again. Bring back MySpace or, um, blogs or something that’s not powered by bro-hards who clearly never realized that Celebrity Deathmatch was fiction.
An hour or two after I returned home from the Art Book Fair, my husband and I headed to Homage, which is located amongst the Chinatown warehouses. It’s address is on Main, but the entrance is actually on a side street called Elmyra that runs between Homage and Highland Park Brewery.
With sunset near and the afternoon heat fading, the neighborhood was poppin’. I don’t know what was happening at L.A. State Historic Park, but snippets of Stardust’s late ‘90s party staple “Music Sounds Better with You” carried across Spring Street to the corner of Elmyra, where a lively crowd gathered on the patio of Highland Park Brewery.
Down the street, Homage was a scene. Folks rummaged through vinyl available at a handful of booths set up behind the brewery’s patio. Carlos immediately found $2 bins and started digging. I was still trying to figure out where I should start my search when he pulls out a record with a very 1970s cover, complete with a guy wearing a blazer and no shirt. It’s Michael Quatro, he tells me. As in Suzi’s brother. Carlos had heard a couple songs, a “smooth” one and a “sleazy” one, which could also describe the bulk of the decade’s musical output. The album, Dancers, Romancers, Dreamers and Schemers, is wild. There’s even a fantasy prog rock epic on it.
Then he pulled out a Three Hats Productions record— “Tender Is the Night”— that neither of us owned. I remarked that the cover is very Bryan Ferry-meets-Larry Dallas. It’s actually a solid disco record.
“Do you have this one?” he asked before sliding a Thelma Houston record my way. It’s Ready to Roll, from 1978. I didn’t have it, but we decided that I should because Thelma’s wearing roller skates on the back cover. Later on, when we were listening to the record, I decided that I’ll be playing “Midnight Mona” in my sets.
But, it wasn’t until I moved over to the next booth and flipped through a five dollar bin that I crossed something off my want list. It was Melba Moore’s 1978 album, the one with “You Stepped Into My Life” on it. If you’ve come to my disco gigs, you’ve heard me play an edit of it, but I didn’t own the original on vinyl until now and it’s a song I love dearly. The Bee-Gees wrote “You Stepped Into My Life” and released it as a B-side two years prior. Moore’s version was a disco hit in its time and has maintained a sort of cult popularity in the decades since. A bonus is that this is also the album with “Pick Me Up, I’ll Dance,” which was sampled by DJ Koze in “Pick Up,” one of my favorite dance tunes of the 2010s.
After getting four records for $11, we figured we should quit digging while we were ahead, so we retreated to the bar, got a round and sat down to continue nerding out over records. It was a good way to end the day, one that we almost missed because social media sucks.
Check out Los Angeles-based DJ and writer Liz O. at one of her upcoming gigs.