By DONNA BALANCIA
To see some of the best up-and-coming bands at Echo Park Rising this year, a good place to start is American Barbershop on Sunset, which has become known for its “Bands In a Barbershop” shows.
“Bands In a Barbershop” has grown into a shining star in the Echo Park area and regularly features a range of alternative acts. Some regulars at the “Bands In a Barbershop” shows include groups like The Manx, Beers for Fears, Speed of Light, Electric Children, Ugly Sweaters and others.
Echo Park Rising is one of the most enjoyable festivals during the course of the year in Los Angeles, enabling visitors to experience music basically anywhere in Echo Park over the course of four days, starting today through Sunday. There will be bands in bars, in clubs, in clothing stores and even at the barbershop.
“Bands In a Barbershop,” promoted by Brian O’Connor, has developed into a real, recognizable brand and attracts a range of fans and performers. And even when it is not during Echo Park Rising, O’Connor said it’s the alternative spaces that will be the wave of the future for indie venues.
“In alternative spaces, I have control regarding which bands to book, set times, lighting, promotions, etcetera,” O’Connor said. “I book the bands I love and I don’t have to go through the red tape of clubs with radius clauses, contracts and expected draw.
“Secondly, it’s my way of giving something back to the community and neighborhood as well as the rock n roll community,” he said. “This I do for free, zero money made. But perhaps most importantly: It’s a personal thrill to have bands I love play at a gig that I put together. It’s like a dream. I also make new friends in the LA music scene, which is awesome.”
Jonny, the bass player in Spare Parts for Broken Hearts said the affinity towards indie venues today has to do with cutting drama and playing music.
“It cuts out all the bullshit that some clubs and venues tend to lay out, there’s no pay to play or expected draw,” he said. “The American Barbershop is at a prime location in Echo Park. Bands just wanna play without having headaches and stress.”
“Most musicians just started playing parties in the backyard basements,” said Charley of Dirty Cakes and Turbulent Hearts. “Playing in an alt venue rehashes the joy of where musicians began and gets away from playing for the same groups of people in the same types of places. Playing in a club is very much like going into the classroom or going to the office, when i’d much rather have a party. Alt spaces are more like parties.”
American Barbershop is located at 1563 Sunset Blvd, Los Angeles. The locale will host “Bands In a Barbershop” EPR, today, Aug. 15 and tomorrow, Aug. 16. For information on Echo Park Rising, go to the EPR website.