Tag Archives: music

Jesse Malin and Alejandro Escovedo at the Federal Underground, Long Beach February 22.


The Federal Underground is one of those unique intimate venues that, when you see a show there, you feel a little a part of a secret tribe. It has an old-school underground industrial feel with Edison lamps at the end of steel girders as chandeliers, and an exposed staircase with metal grilles below the banisters. There’s a SHINING-style blood-red hallway backstage that leads to a speakeasy deep in the basement. The band green room, poorly hidden from the audience, is INSIDE a vault with a 10-foot diameter door that must weight several tons. It’s in this environment that hundred fifty or so indie fans and South Bay and OC punks gathered for Alejandro Escovedo and Jesse Malin’s Long Beach leg of their ongoing tour.

My wife always says about art and artists, “They are not ‘like’ anything; they are themselves!” I continue to disagree. Escovedo is like a Latin Nick Cave and he hates comparisons with Tom Petty. What if I like both (and I do)? His lyrics are piercing and incisive, his styles span genres from roots to country to punk to rockabilly, and like Nick Cave, he’s a tortured soul who wants to share his pain. But as far out on the edge he goes, there’s an accessibility to his performance and music that’s…well, like Tom Petty. So there.

Jesse Malin’s an iconoclastic performer who’s played solo, with punk and rock bands, and just about everybody else. He’s famous for performing tribute shows featuring Lou Reed and most recently, The Rolling Stones’ Goats Head Soup. Here, he stuck to his own compositions with a keyboard accompanist. Tunes included “All the Way from Moscow,” and the punky “Black Haired Girl.”

The audience is as much a part of these shows as these performers. There’s a communion between them that drives the show. Malin in particular, whose confessional patter between tunes drives the likewise confessional nature of his performance. At one point he told a long story about how his mom essentially caught him playing guitar at some VERY early age (he fronted a hardcore band at age 12 that couldn’t get one booking because he couldn’t recruit a drinking audience).

Escovedo’s set interspersed classics from his repertoire but featured numerous cuts from his first new album in four years, Burn Something Beautiful. He was joined for the set by Aaron McClendon on bass; Sean Peters Austin drums and Jason Victor on guitar.

His second tune “Horizontal” had hints of Tom Petty in it (!), singing “I wanna go where you go and that’s all right.” He went on to the urgent and energetic “Sunday Morning Feeling” then offered up two audience favorites; the first, “Castanets,” featuring a 50’s roots rock guitar and punkabilly beat with the clap/sing along refrain, “I like her better when she walks away.”

He introduced “Sally Was a Cop,” saying “This song goes out to Donald Trump.” This was a long, loping arrangement with a martial, almost Irish beat underneath the screaming guitar work. It features his favorite vocal toy, a big metal police dispatcher’s microphone. There’s a terrific audience video of the whole nine-minute song here https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1LVH1dYAziw. He then brought things downtempo with “Suit of Lights.

Though Escovedo has one song called “I Don’t Want to Play Guitar Anymore,” his performance certainly belied that sentiment, because his axe, emblazoned with a picture of Joe Strummer, was put through its paces on rhythm and lead, on power chords and piercing melodies. At one point in “Johnny Volume,” he leads a chugging messy psychedelic guitar program. He swished his hands across the strings and dissolved it into fuzz–a ten minute jam with numerous crescendos, even windmilling at times.

“Burnt a hole in my jeans/I want to be your man/I want to be everything I promised you.” Across his set, Escovedo’s deeply cynical but hopeful lyrics paint a picture of a self acknowledging, flawed man who yearns for acceptance and redemption. He combines David Lynch’s dark vision invoking the memory of his late brother and the hope of true believers on “Sensitive Boys.”

He performed his first encore, “Chinese Rocks,” with Jesse Malin back on stage and rather than describe it, I’ll simply point you to the second remarkable bootleg video of it here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QiFPTLOH3Hs. He wrapped up the set with Leonard Cohen cover “Boogie Street,” lending his guitar to Malin’s accompanist and brought the audience down a funky boulevard of broken dreams and a thousand kisses.

Photos by Paul Neuman here:


–Henry Eshelman



Mimosa Music Series—Angela McCluskey and Chris Stills at The Federal Bar North Hollywood, November 29, 2016


As the weather turns cool there’s no cozier place for music fans than KCRW-FM’s Gary Calamar’s Mimosa Music Series at the Federal Bar North Hollywood, CA.

Each show is crazy intimate for the caliber of artists featured, with performances taking place upstairs at The Federal over that gastropub’s signature brunch. Amazingly, admission is free with reservation. For cheapskates, there’s free bagels, cream cheese and coffee. It’s an unnecessary incentive; performers over the past months have included artists as diverse as Courtney Barnett, Jenny O. and The Bird and the Bee.

Last month’s performance by Stephen Stills’ son Chris and Scottish siren Angela McCluskey was a unique and very personal experience for me. Way back when, we worked with McCluskey when she fronted The Wild Colonials and put on some of her earliest shows: one to open the Virgin Megastore in West Hollywood and another at the old Atlas Bar & Grill by the Wiltern. McCluskey went on to a rich and varied solo career, and remixes of her “Breathe” with Telepopmusik had become oft-spun house anthems by the time I launched my DJ career in 2002. Since then, she’s collaborated with dance artists Morgan Page and recorded with Robbie Robertson and Joe Henry, among others. And heck, she’s managed by my friend Norena Barbella. Who knew?

Calamar introduced opener Chris Stills as “Chris, Stills and Nosh.” Performing acoustic guitar (a gorgeous sky-blue model Gibson hummingbird lookalike if it wasn’t the real thing) with a solid electric bass accompaniment filling in the bottom end, the duo offered gentle, nostalgic harmonies with crisp, bold, clear folk/rock tunes including “Hellfire Baby Jane;” “Criminal Mind,” –“a song about the women in my life,” Stills offered. Like his dad, Stills is an adept balladeer on both guitar and piano, with both serious and whimsical songs, including a number called “That’s Cool” and concluding with “The Weekend,” about a college student who had “too good of a time and lost their phone”—possibly the most stage time ever devoted to this very mundane yet common subject. Stills was an unexpected and pleasant surprise.


Angela started her set with “a couple really depressing songs, because we’ve just come from New York and it’s rainy and cold there.” Complementing her tortured and careworn vocals—always sounding pushed nearly to the breaking point, musician husband and frequent collaborator Paul Cantenon played piano and violin in a Utilikilt; the remarkable Lili Haydn also joined on violin. Mic stand festooned with flowers and glittering lights, Angela left that stand all alone after the two ballads, “8 Stories High” and “You and Me.” Suggesting that “I don’t think I can get you off your arses to dance, but just put on your Hollywood shades and do it” she proceeded to do both. Audience members pulled the window shades, cutting off the slanting midday winter light, and Matt the sound and light tech did his best to offer the newly darkened room that Berlin cabaret feel with Angela’s frequent instruction and encouragement.

With added drums by the laconic Davey Chegwidden, with bass and loops from Kiran Shahani (Angela’s writing and producing partner), she introduced barrelhouse anthems “Let’s Get Lost” and “Crying Anymore,” and one she played at the Atlas Bar & Grill way back when she was heralded as “Britain’s newest singing sensation,” a sobriquet that both surprised and amused her. She then moved on to some more dance numbers such as “Paris To Hollywood,” from her latest album, The Roxy Sessions—get it here: (https://itunes.apple.com/us/album/the-roxy-sessions/id1139030979). Other tunes showing the more dance and rock side of Angela included “Electric Sky;” “In the Air;” and “The Little Things.”

For her last song, the house/lounge standard “Breathe,” she replaced the words with Gramma Funk’s [I See you Baby] Shakin’ that Ass” Fatboy Slim Remix as performed with Thievery Corporation (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DDjoouqRnhk). Dancers outnumbered sitters by far for this last number, and by the time the audience bundled up scarves, gloves and leather jackets—I swear—to ward off the unaccustomed 60-degree chill, the downtempo start to the set was long forgotten.

Next up for the Mimosa Music Series? A holiday show with Maria Taylor and Matt Costa today, December 18, 11AM-2PM. You should go over there right now.


The Federal Bar, Lankershim Bl., North Hollywood, CA 91601. Reservations: 818.980.2555.




Hard Labor: Knitting Factory News Volume One, Issue XVI

Knitting Factory News

Welcome to Knitting Factory News, our intermittent (let’s say, twice monthly or fortnightly) bulletin of highlights from inside and outside the Knitting Factory universe. It’s an opinionated guide to featured artists at our California venues, KFE-managed artists on tour, giveaways, ephemera, and…well, things we like, no matter where they came from.

Love Song To The Earth

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The worldwide environmental movement has never had a soundtrack or rallying cry—until now. Internationally renowned artists have come together to record a song to support the UN Secretary-General’s leadership on climate change and the United Nations’ call for a meaningful, universal, global climate change agreement to be signed by governments in December.

“Love Song to the Earth” features performances by Paul McCartney, Jon Bon Jovi, Sheryl Crow, Fergie, Colbie Caillat, Natasha Bedingfield, Leona Lewis, Sean Paul, Johnny Rzeznik, Krewella, Angelique Kidjo (a UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador), Kelsea Ballerini, Nicole Scherzinger, Christina Grimmie, Victoria Justice and Q’Orianka Kilcher.

Written by Toby Gad, Natasha Bedingfield, John Shanks and Sean Paul, and produced by Toby Gad and John Shanks, the song is available now exclusively on iTunes and Apple Music via Connect. The artists, producers and directors of the Love Song project – as well as Apple – are donating their respective proceeds to Friends of the Earth U.S. and the United Nations Foundation.

Featured Shows

rEPRising At The Echo 2015 NES

There are a number of exciting live shows happening in California over the next few weeks, including festivals Hiero Day, Long Beach Folk Festival, KABOO Festival Del Mar, and Hi-Fi Rockfest. And don’t miss The New Electric Sound at rEPRising At The Echo; this show is compromised of standout bands from Echo Park Rising.

Friday, September 4
!!! – SLO Brew– San Luis Obispo, CA

Monday, September 7
The Coup – Hiero Day – Oakland, CA

Saturday, September 12
Prima Donna –Maui Sugar Mill Saloon – Tarzana, CA

Hi Fi Fest 2015 TTT

Monday, September 14
The New Electric Sound – rEPRising At The Echo – Los Angeles, CA

Friday, September 18
Deer Tick– City Winery– Napa, CA

Saturday, September 19
Deer Tick – Long Beach Folk Revival– Long Beach, CA
The Nervous Wreckords – KABOO Festival Del Mar – San Diego, CA

Saturday, September 26
The Two Tens– Hi-Fi Rockfest – Long Beach, CA

Sunday, September 27
The Two Tens – The Casbah – San Diego, CA

FYF 2015 Recap

by Saeli Eshelman

This week, in lieu of a music city artist pick, we will be doing a quick retelling of my experience at this year’s FYF Fest, as we did for Coachella.

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Photo courtesy of Sheyda Zebarjadian: The crowd at DJ Harvey’s set

As with Coachella, I am approaching FYF veteran status, as I have attended the past four years (and its only been going for ten!). And also like Coachella, FYF has changed a lot over the time I have been attending–FYF has ballooned in size and subsequently changed its venue to the USC Coliseum and surrounding Exposition Park last year. But overall, FYF hasn’t “sold out” in quite the way Coachella has been accused of doing, with the exception of Kanye last minute headlining this year. In fact, FYF has been lauded for its growing popularity and simultaneous sticking to its roots, making it a significant festival for its authenticity. This is why, regardless of your opinions on the burgeoning festival scene and its many iterations, FYF’s acts are worth discussing.

And now, I present you with my list of the top six FYF 2015 performances (and a couple honorable mentions at the end):

The Drums

All photos courtesy of the FYF website unless otherwise noted

The Drums: The Drums have been a favorite band of mine since the release of their first EP, Summertime!, in 2009. Since then I have seen them live after each of their studio LPs have dropped and each time have fallen more and more in love with them. Lead vocalist Johnny Pierce is an amazing performer, enrapturing the audience with his awkward yet slick dance moves and unfaltering voice that hits pretty high up in the vocal register sometimes. This show was great not only for his still-amazing stage presence, but also their song selection which ranged throughout their discography, not ever spending too much time in one era or another, and executing each unique sound flawlessly. I enjoyed dancing the entire time and singing along to every word, and I saw more than a couple surrounding fans who seemed to be doing the same. And I got a bonus thrill when I ran into Johnny and his husband not once, but twice later in the weekend!

Run the Jewels

Run the Jewels:
Run the Jewels is a rap duo comprised of rapper/producer El-P and rapper Killer Mike. And to give you an idea of their rapping prowess, one need look no further than Kendrick Lamar’s Killer Mike shoutout on the song “Hood Politics” off his most recent album: “Critics want to mention that they miss when hip hop was rappin’/ Motherfucker, if you did, then Killer Mike’d be platinum.” As expected, their rapping is aggressive and confrontational, addressing real issues, such as police brutality. But they really won over the crowd with their humor and stage presence, keeping an open dialogue with fans, talking to us in between song breaks, and getting us involved in songs where they could. Not to mention, their graphics were pretty dope.

Kanye West

Photo courtesy of Goldenvoice

Kanye West: Kanye West requires no real introduction, he is a self-proclaimed rap god (or real god?) and generally pompous ass. Many people are turned off by his personality, but I am a huge fan of his simply for his artistry–almost every album he has ever made has been new and different in some way, most often in his production, but also often in his content. While his music is not perfect, I think he deserves major respect for his vast body of work and continued success. However, he was not originally on the FYF setlist, but instead replaced Frank Ocean very last minute, like two days before his set last minute. This proved to be a problem, solely in the festival’s under-preparedness for an artist of this caliber as far as security positioned throughout the crowd, which was very large and spanned a crazy amount of the parking lot the main stage is situated in. I was very close to the stage after working my way up for Chet Faker’s performance and stood in the most packed crowd I have ever experienced at a festival (and I’ve attended upwards of ten) for almost a full hour while Kanye fans bum-rushed the stage and pushed us closer and tighter than was possible. It was pretty miserable, but then Kanye went on and I could see him from where I stood and for about five minutes the entire crowd jumped and shouted along to the lyrics to “Stronger.” But when the music slowed and the jumping stopped, there was no longer room for everyone’s feet on the ground and a large section of the front began to ebb and flow and eventually sections tumbled like dominoes. I saw people pass out and without security stationed anywhere but the front people were unable to get out easily and safely. I left after that and while this was not Kanye’s fault and it didn’t affect his incredible show, it was a bummer that mismanagement of the crowd sort of ruined this show for myself and many others (depending solely on where you were standing).

Death Grips

Death Grips: Death Grips is an experimental hip-hop/rap group that blends this sound with punk and electronica, as well, making for very complex and very loud music. They were set to play FYF last year but announced the band’s disbanding only a month-or-so before the festival, and were replaced. Luckily, since then, they have released more music and announced a world tour that included their slating at FYF, again. As such, my group (which included a die-hard fan) and I felt it necessary to see them while we still could, and they did not disappoint. Their energy and physicality was off the walls, as was the crowd’s, and my friend got to mosh her way all the way to the front (while I remained a little further back after the previous night’s ordeal). She came back grinning over her positive experience, both as a spectator and with the other fans.


Morrissey: Morrissey’s voice was expectedly impeccable and his demeanor expectedly irreverent. As far as his performance, he really did get to show off his musical chops, but the show was far more for fans of Morrissey’s solo work than it was for fans of The Smiths, much to the chagrin of large portions of the audience. But he did get a couple of The Smiths’ tracks in, and considering how well he sang I saw no reason to complain. Fans were ironically not disappointed, however, with his usual morose mood. He began the set with a doctored image of the Queen pulling a double bird, pleaded the audience to not vote for Trump, criticized the festival for its over zealous disbursement of security guards, and showed his unwavering support for veganism with a graphic compilation of escalating violent slaughter (next to a VIP section that only served vegan for the day at his request). Everything you could expect and more.

FKA Twigs

Photo courtesy of Goldenvoice

FKA twigs: I know that Knitting Factory News readers have heard a lot about FKA twigs since I first mentioned her earlier this year in my Coachella recap, but as her star continues to rise I feel it necessary to cover its impressive journey. As mentioned before, “she got her start as a backup dancer and now makes a very ‘her’ style of music that combines all sorts of genres, most notably R&B vocals with a slightly house, slightly more mellow form of electronic synth backing.” Her music is very chewy, but she made it far more accessible at FYF than she did at Coachella (maybe in part due to her growing success and growing crowds). What I really found myself amazed by this time though, was the choreographed dance that lasted the entirety of her set. She was able to enhance the storytelling of her lyrics with the storytelling of her movements, along with movements of her other dancers–who are all featured in her music video for “Glass & Patron,” which houses a choreographed dance sequence that was reenacted in its entirety on stage. At one point I heard a first-time viewer exclaim, “You get music and a show!” and while I don’t think he meant to make such a poignant statement, he hit the nail on the head as far as what is so intriguing about twigs. As we explained in our article about her new EP/video release, her art is enhanced by other artistic interpretations, such as film and dance, making her a killer multi-medium threat.


Photo courtesy of Sheyda Zebarjadian: BADBADNOTGOOD’s light-show in The Arena

Honorable mention (each of these artists deserve their own feature if we had the space!)

!!!: (pronounced chk chk chk) is a Knitting Factory Management band who was dancey–like really dancey–funky, and playful in all the right (and weird) ways.

Chet Faker: an incredibly swaggy (yes, I said it) Australian electronica musician who croons as well as he plays synth and piano, and gave the audience major feels and sways in the process. It was worth it seeing him to just to hear his mega-hit “Talk is Cheap,” which you should check out if you haven’t already.

Unknown Mortal Orchestra: a little bit psych rock, a little bit indie rock, a little bit electronic, and a lot experimental, UMO gets mad props for not only sounding great, but sounding great in the direct (very hot) sun, especially while frontman Ruban Nielson wore a jersey over a long-sleeve shirt!

Toro Y Moi: another favorite band of mine, but while the show was a little too quiet to really send them into greatness territory I had fun dancing and enjoying their radiating coolness and ease in rocking like they’ve been rocking forever.

DJ Harvey: a DJ I discovered at FYF four years ago looking for some respite from the sun (instead I ended up dancing to the entirety of his disco as dance music set). He was the resident DJ at the Woods stage for over three hours on Sunday (honorable mention is deserved simply for the length of this set) and my group and I made sporadic stops there throughout the day to get our groove on.

Flume: an electronic musician-extraordinaire, though most of his popularity comes from his genre-spanning samplings’ for remixes, and this played to his advantage, bringing out artists like Lorde to accompany his turntables. More than anything though, it was a dance break for fans of all sorts of music and again, super dope graphics.

D’Angelo and the Vanguard: D’Angelo first experienced success in the ’90s with his neo-soul album Black Sugar and ’00s with Voodoo, the latter of which earned him a Grammy, and both of which cemented him as a bonafide sex symbol with washboard abs. But he struggled off and on with writer’s block and other personal problems relating to his stardom, and fell off the musical map. Thus, his most recent album, Black Messiah (released 14 years after his second) was highly anticipated and put him back in the spotlight, most notably due to the album’s genre-fluidity and social relevance. This comeback story made his show a can’t-miss event and it really was, there was so much funk and so much soul visible and audible at all times, and while I made the decision to leave early in order to see Morrissey I wish I had gotten the chance to stay for more.


Until next year!

Federal Bars

The Knitting Factory’s two Southern California gastropubs—the Federal Bars in North Hollywood and Long Beach—feature a range of resident and one-off shows.

Randy Emata

This month, North Hollywood again hosts the unique act of Randy Emata, a multi-talented producer, pianist, composer, etc., etc., who is a regular performer at The Federal. Come on out on September 8th to see him show off his many skills in person. (And it’s free to boot!)

Radio Moskow 2

The Federal Bar in Long Beach will be hosting Knitting Factory’s own Radio Moscow, who we’ve featured in this publication before, along with The Sheepdogson October 11th. Radio Moscow is best known for “playing the kind of music that makes the neighbors call the cops,” in other words, playing rock that really rocks. And The Sheepdogs are no different, as a band that is categorized as “boogie rock” but could easily fall into the garage- or psych-rock genres, as well. With a new album set to be released by The Sheepdogs prior to this show, and Radio Moscow’s most recent album being released just one year ago there will be plenty of new material and good time to be had by all.

Bow & Truss

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Credit: We Like LA

Craving a trip to wine country? Look no further. Celebrate Labor Day with wine and cheese at Bow & Truss!

On the first Monday of each month through November, latin-inspired restaurant Bow & Truss will be serving up wine and cheese pairings with flavors from around the world. Starting next Monday, Andrew Steiner of Andrew’s Cheese Shop in Santa Monica will provide the cheeses and provide notes on the wines as well. Check out the event featured in NohoArtsDistrict.com!

The first Monday of each month from August to November.
September 7 – 7:00pm
October 5 – 7:00pm
November 2 – 7:00pm

WHERE: Bow & Truss
11122 Magnolia Blvd.
North Hollywood, CA 91601
(818) 985-8787
Make your reservation: erin@bowandtruss.com

Drive Time

Feast your eyes on the latest episode from Knitting Factory’s weekly web series Drive Time, with soul/pop group Jessica Hernandez & the Deltas.

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Drive Time is hosted by Juliette Beavan, the front woman of the critically acclaimed trip-hop rock band 8mm, whose music has been licensed on films and shows such as Pretty Little LiarsGrey’s AnatomyUnderworld: Awakening, and Mr. & Mrs. Smith. Each six to eight-minute episode follows Juliette driving bands around Austin during SXSW, which inevitably brings out their devil-may-care, on-the-road personalities. Stay tuned for more episodes featuring up-and-coming artists.

Lit Cine

Lit Cine

Lit Crawl L.A. proudly presents vintage files with conversations and readings of cinema’s impact on the Los Angeles literary community and life in the Southland. Lit Crawl L.A.’s first film screening series celebrates the intersection of film and L.A. literature.

The upcoming films are as follows:

The Vanishing American
Wednesday, September 16th at 7:30pm
Laemmle Pasadena Playhouse
673 East Colorado Blvd. Pasadena, CA 91101. 310-478-3836

Fahrenheit 45
Wednesday, September 30th at 7:30pm
Laemmle Noho 7
5240 Lankershim Blvd. North Hollywood, CA 91601. 310-478-3836

A portion of ticket purchases will support Lit Crawl L.A., a free to the public, grassroots literary festival, returning to the NoHo Arts District on Wednesday October 21, 2015, as a free-to-the-public evening of 40 presenters including readings series, lit journals, performance groups, local presses and more at 35+ locations in the NoHo Arts District. For more information, go here.

Giveaway: deVour Magazine’s Into The Dark

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deVour is a quarterly magazine founded by a collaborative brainchild of artists that breathe music, fashion, art and beauty.

This Saturday, experience a live avant-garde production, a “style-and-shoot,” of deVour Magazine’s next issue: where high art, fashion and lifestyle meet. As part of a sprawling Gypsy Bazaar, deVour will host a night to remember filled with vendors, artists and performers. Spectacles include a runway show, live musical acts, body painting, fire dancing, and a fortune teller. Featuring VIP artists such as Tea Cake, Callowlily, Carissa Louise Martin, Shayne of the Dead Bohner, Vincent Gabriel, Valentine Anger, and plus a special appearance by famous plus-size model Tess Holliday!

Saturday, September 5th from 7p.m. – 1:30 a.m.
ArtShare LA
801 E 4th Place
Los Angeles, CA 90013

Admission is $10 presale and $15 at the door. Ticket price includes a digital copy of deVour’s latest issue and entry into a raffle with prizes including home décor, jewelry, cosmetics, and art prints.
Get tickets here.
Check out the Facebook event here.

The first 5 readers to email Sabrina@platformgrp.com about the event before Noon on Saturday will win a pair of tickets!


That’s it for this week. We’re writing you because you’ve expressed interest in Knitting factory shows, artists or productions. Like us? Want us to consider covering your artists or shows? Please tell us, your humble writer/editors: Henry Eshelman heshelman@platformgrp.com, Sabrina Zeile sabrina@platformgrp.com and Saeli Eshelman saeli@platformgrp.com; we can take it from there.

Hate us? As someone once said, “please confine your comments to compliments only.” But we’ll (regretfully) accept your unsubscribe requests humbly and without question. Thanks for listening!