What Goes On

Winter Music Issue

Photo by James BunoanBy Nadia Afghani, Gustavo Arellano, Michael Coyle, Theo Douglas, Ellen Griley, Rich Kane, Susan Morgan, Rex Reason, Rosheila Robles, Charlie Rose and Will Swaim

Edited by Steve Lowery and Chris Ziegler

Photos by James Bunoan (except where noted)

It wasn't last night, and it wasn't the night before; it's all the nights we could get put together in one slow-mo shutter-speed snapshot of Orange County—and driving destinations nearby—after dark. It's the romance of mostly a big fat lack of romance, of dark bars full of bodies and of too-bright neon, of late-night drive-through runs and ferociously poor decision making, of the collection of stories to exaggerate tomorrow, set to every soundtrack ever—music from the car stereo, the iPod, the jukebox, the blown-out stage PA, the turntables in the mixing booth, the FM waves and the lyrics the guy at karaoke cannot fucking get right, no matter how still he stands in front of the screen. So it's not an actual night and "typical" sucks the fun out of it, but it all happened as you'll read it, and it'll all happen again next weekend: bad bands and brilliant bands, slow dancers and sloppy dancers, happy songs and sad songs, a crowded roomful of people getting less and less crowded, and a needle bumping against the record label as someone goes around turning off the lights. It's what goes on when you go out.

SET UP

STARBUCKS, ANAHEIM HILLS.

Crammed inside a tiny one-person restroom, Fielding guitarist Kevin Poushhas one leg in a pair of black slacks and another in his favorite pair of beat-up jeans as he struggles to pull his tie from around his neck without choking himself. His boss won't realize he's sneaked away from his cubicle for another hour, but he's already pissed off fellow band mate/bass player Aaron Bradford by arriving late at Starbucks. They meet at the coffeehouse on days when they're due at Hollywood's Knitting Factory to convene with the rest of the band and set up their gear so the headliners can do a sound check.

CHAIN REACTION, ANAHEIM.

Great Glass Elevator are in the parking lot, waiting for the other acts to finish. Barret Slagle, who plays rhythm guitar and keyboard, is sitting inside a pickup truck listening to Mozart's Requiem. It's a ritual he performs before every show. Drummer Josh Stephens lights up his cigarette—another ritual. The rest of the band—lead guitarist Matt Mason, bassist/backup vocalist Andrew Honore and lead singer David Braun—toss around some Del Taco, as they do before every show and practice.

PRIVATE HOME, FOUNTAIN VALLEY.

Not much demand for an all-girl Muslim punk rock wedding band yet, but it doesn't stop them from practicing. On the rare occasion they can scrounge up $18, practice is at Sound Arena, but tonight, with a collective savings of $8.67, they'll meet for practice in the drummer's makeshift, mattress-walled studio, which is actually an unused second bedroom. They eat whatever the drummer has in her fridge—and by whatever, we mean crackers and tuna and individual slices of cheese and Fruit Rollups and specially ordered Canadian water because the drummer is Canadian. Satiated, they head for the bedroom/studio.

J. KING NEPTUNE'S, SUNSET BEACH.

The George Fryer Combo, hung-over and sore from two consecutive late-night gigs, move like men hauling corpses, wearily drag their gear onto J. King Neptune's battered stage. If you didn't know better, you'd consider it an evil portent. In the dimly lit bar, a few locals shout their names as they walk in. The bartender greets them: "Summer brew?" They nod; he pours.

BJ'S CAFÉ BISTRO, LONG BEACH.

It's almost time for The Vooduo to go on when the two of them—Max and Heidi Eidson—appear onstage to briefly sound-check everything, and then, as always, Max sets down his guitar and disappears. It is his traditional preshow pee break("shakin' it out, boss") 'cause, well, that's what he does. It's his thing.

HOUSE OF BLUES, ANAHEIM.

She could've been in any frat-boy stroke magazine: nipped and tucked and powdered and glossed and wearing clothing so tight they could've been painted on, waiting to get her tickets to see washed-up local rockers Lit, who were not so long ago platinum sellers. The rest of us learned, through one end of her cell-phone conversation, the guitarist had promised to put her on the guest list. Apparently, he forgot because she cursed her way through five minutes at the ticket window, ending her shrill demands with "No, I'm not going to buy a ticket to see them."

Christopher Badges of Terrors
thought his band was going to the
Glass House in Pomona in suits.
Instead the drummer wore a
TOFU T-shirt and Badger ended up
the classiest guy of the night.
PRIVATE RESIDENCE, SANTA ANA.

Flipping past the Cars' self-titled album and toward his Coil LPs, the DJ spots an Alex Chilton record and pauses, trying to remember the last time he'd played it. Then again, it seems he's lately been spending more time buying records than actually listening to them, and besides, he doesn't have time to think about any of this right now—his set starts in 15 minutes, and it takes 20 to get to the bar. Ditching Coil, he picks up Chilton and heads for the door.

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