GUANTANAMO BAYWATCH + PRETTIEST EYES + NO PARENTS @ THE HI HAT
Photos by Marcos Manrique Words by Zachary Castro
As rain started to flood the streets of Los Angeles, vivacious music lovers flooded The Hi Hat to see a rock n’ roll show. The smell of burgers cooked to perfection filled the air as delighted concert-goers entered the venue. A few patrons stopped to play some billiards. The building is walled with brick, the ceiling is decked with wood creating a perfectly natural reverberance to the Hi Hat. Smoke machines constantly pumped out a foggy atmosphere adding to the ambience. Just before you’ve realized you’re at the end of a seemingly endless venue, band members take the stage, and the show is ready to begin.
To kick off the night, Ventura band VNLVX (pronounced unlux) pleasantly surprised us with a powerful set. VNLVX delivered a set as hard as they could, perpetuating their raw power until the last note of the last song was played. Between songs, vocalist Sasha Green thanked everybody for coming out and enjoying the “middle aged rock and roll,” shaking loose a bit of laughter from the crowd. No matter the level of self deprecation in that joke, VNLVX held the floor with power, style, and authority.
No Parents took slot two, continuing the trend of raw, uninhibited power. No Parents is a band that beckons you to look back to simpler times; melodic hardcore, MTV, mosh-pits, and Beavis and Butthead. Their sound is like something one would find in a time capsule opened a decade or two too early, reminding us of the fun and catchy pop-punk tunes we all used to love so much back in the day. Much like the light-hearted aspects of days gone by, the band’s ethos revolves around humor, contorted faces, and just plain old fun, while still keeping up the hard-core jams that can start any mosh-pit at any point in the set.
Just when you the bass tone couldn’t get any thicker, Prettiest Eyes took the stage and misled us in the direction of synth-pop rock n’ roll, until they flipped a 180, and blasted us with powerful bass lines, synth lead work, and drumming Pachy García, who can sing and shred at the same time. Prettiest Eyes draws on punk influence with heavy distortion on the bass while also seasoning the tone with LA’s favorite effect-fuzz.
Los Angeles is a city of diversity, almost like an ethnic gold-mine. Many bands such as Prettiest Eyes sing in different languages-they sang in Spanish. For those who don’t speak the language, the show has nothing taken away from it, if anything an extra layer of mystique and depth is added to the set. It’s not often you have bands that express their native tongue in their music so when they do, it opens up an entire dialect and way of perceiving music to the listener. While that is all nice and interesting, the band also decided to completely lose their minds in the middle of their set, rocking a double time beat, spilling beer on the crowd and just absolutely hammering the hell out of their songs. Must be seen to appreciate.
Finally, Guantanamo Baywatch took the stage and the crowd went wild. The clean and surfy tone of the guitars contrasted the overdriven sounds of the bands before and pleased us with swift fingers and catchy melodies. Like most surf-sounding music, the drums have to be wild and interesting. Drummer Chris Scott exceeded these expectations fervently and dominantly, all the while with a huge smile on his face. It’s bands like these that provide the vivacious entertainment that attract many. It’s also bands like this that provide a fresh meaning to surf rock, as redundancy is natural in any sub genre. It is near impossible to not dance to the tunes that this band plays. Even though the dancing was inevitable, the circle pit peaked to insanity during their set with frontman Zoë Reign of No Parents hurling himself into the tornado of bodies.