Local Bands Paint the Walls of an Art Gallery With Energy in Santa Ana

The Portal


Gantez, Badlnds, The Bluffs, and Playdate celebrated the cassette tape release of Gantez’s album Frog Rock by throwing a costume-party-concert at The Portal. The Portal, located on East 4th street in Santa Ana, is not only an art gallery but an alternative venue for shows.

Though Gantez didn’t headline (they actually played first), the band still got a large following who sang along to half their songs. Opening with “She’s Gone,” followed by “I Wish I Didn’t Care” the Costa Mesa four piece got the entire audience in a swinging, dancing mood. Their sound, which could be described as romantic, alternative folk rock, kicked the night off in a groovy direction. The moving projections that washed over the band as they played created the illusion that they too were dancing along with the rest of the audience.

Mario Barrios and Andy Bender, the guitarists, along with bassist Levi Prairie wailed away together on vocals while drummer Ronnie Bender beat up his kit. Barrios and Prairie took turns switching their bass and guitars while every member, excluding Bender, alternated lead vocal duties.

Next were Badlnds, who dressed up in ‘90s goth makeup, black nail polish and all-black attire. Their sound immediately created a fiery moshpit. With only about a 50-person capacity things got hectic in the club pretty quickly. However that didn’t stop the people or the band from giving it their all. Even when the bands mics and bodies were being pushed around, they continued to play as if there were no interference at all.

Following the Badlnds’ set was a quick costume contest. There was a three-way tie for 1st place: a hillbilly couple in overalls, an afro-glam rocker, and the guitarist of Playdate, Elijah, who was dressed as a woman. The prize was a free Gantez cassette tape and a Playdate t-shirt. Elijah won and threw the prizes in the audience.

The Bluffs gave direct support to Playdate. Each member was dressed as a painter in white fluorescent stained jumpsuits that glowed in the blacklights posted around the stage. They played songs off their new EP You Got Bad and Zoo Boots. Their psychedelic, flowing sound and ambient bass lines filled the room. As each band played, the audience became progressively more and more rowdy, hyped, and aggressive. 

By the time Playdate went on, they had no choice but to be a part of the mosh pit which extended to the stage. Countless times, the mics were hitting the singer, guitarist, and bassist from the people hurtling into the equiptment. No set lasted much longer than 30 minutes which was dissatisfying to their eager crowd who wanted much more. However, Playdate compensated with an impressive, animated, powerful performance. Although they complained that they couldn’t get their pedals to work, which can be vital for a band’s live set, it did not make their sound any less exceptional than usual. At the end of their set, the lead singer and rhythm guitarist put his instrument down to go into the pit while singing “At Your Convenience.” The audience reacted by crowdsurfing and knocking into each other even harder. The show raged until midnight and ended right before cops arrived to break it up. That was a nonissue; the night began and ended smooth with the bands giving their audience the best show possible.

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