LA BATALLA FESTIVAL @ THE GLASS HOUSE
Photos by Joey Tobin Words by Madison Desler
“La batalla,” translates to “the battle” or “the struggle,” making it an interesting name for one of the most laid-back and painless festival experiences any one who was in attendance is likely to have. Hosted by LA heroes, Santoros, who decorated The Glass House with piñatas and paper streamers making it look like a backyard fiesta, a more accurate name might translate to “the super-fun, unpretentious party” or “Good vibes, man!”
In between bands, one could check out the merch tables upstairs, enjoy a $3 slice of pizza from the bar, or peruse the makeshift art walk demarked by cut-out letters taped to the nearby staircase spelling out, “Art Fart”— with beautiful and talented ladies selling everything from hand-crafted pom-pom earrings, to quarter-life crisis zines and Sonny and Cher stickers.
The only real “battle” of the day proved to be getting people in the door. With a nine-band line-up, half the bands played to less than a hundred people. The poor guys of Moon Ensemble, who went on first at 3:30, were pretty much playing to Santoros and the Art Fart corner. Wild Wing, known for their un-hinged live performances were comparatively tame, a blameless occurrence due to the size of the politely interested, but expressionless crowd of 30 huddled in front of them.
So Many Wizards and Colleen Green —in her signature sunglasses—both gave valiant efforts and the audience doubled in size, but it wasn’t until around 7:15—halfway through Adult Books‘ set—that a crowd favoring Dickies high waters, Vans Sk8-Hi sneakers, and metallic cans of PBR, started to file in. Good thing, since Adult Books were firing on all cylinders, even getting the first mosh-pit of the night—albeit a tame one involving lots of smiles—with “Silverlake Goths.”
The highlight of the night proved to be Quitapenas, a tropical Afro-Latin combo hailing from San Bernardino, whose garaged-up version of traditional rhythms and melodies are so good, they’re undoubtably worthy of their all-caps name. Dressed in white, they charmed the crowd immediately with their irresistible songs built for dancing—the stomping rhythm and call and response of “Papaya” nearly taking the roof off the place.
Santoros took to the stage in matching coveralls, and matching relief-filled faces. After playing the irresistible “It’s You,” frontman Josef Virgen—draped in a Mexican flag blanket—expressed his gratitude to everyone who showed up. “We were kind of nervous in the beginning, to tell you the truth,” he said, but the worst was over. With a PBR in one hand and maracas in the other, Virgen brought out two shirtless luchadores to dance around—the universal symbol for party time.
Mutant-pop trio Billy Changer—complete with Mr. Lolipop himself (Wyatt Blair) on drums—blasted through “Barbarella” and new song “She’s Good To Go,” enjoying a nice, fat 9:45 crowd, before ceding the stage to Long Beach patron saints, Tijuana Panthers. The surf-garage gods fired off one crowd favorite after another, reminding everyone that they’re the womb up-and-coming bands like The Buttertones crawled out of. “Torpedo,” “Creature,” and “Redheaded Girl” all got the shout-along treatment from the hyped audience, who were screaming for one more song before the Panthers even left the stage.
Even with the venue finally full, there was plenty of room to breathe, easy access to the bar, no endless bathroom lines, and the opportunity to get in the first few rows for the headliners without having to camp out all day.
Those crazy kids who wanted to keep the party going could head around the corner to DBA256, where The Knitts, The Big Nothing, Spooky Cigarette, and Cutty Flam kept people dancing well into the night.