So you love Chicano Batman. Here’s 6 more amazing LA indie bands to watch.


by Tom Nguyen

LA’s underground Latin indie and rock scene is the most vibrant and explosive I’ve seen in years. Sure, Chicano Batman put the scene on the map and kudos to them…Coachella twice and 3 back-to-back sold-out shows this September wow! They’re such the hip, in-demand darlings right now, eager fans chased them to their cars after their performance to an over-capacity crowd at One Colorado in Pasadena this summer. I see posts on Facebook like a 60-something white CSULA professor gushing about playing their music to her class and wondering why her Latino students hadn’t heard them yet…so I had to ask her besides the Johnnie Walker commercial she saw, can she name any of the many talented and unique bands with Latino musicians playing amazing music in LA right now? Nope.

So Chicano Batman bandwagoners, take note. It took them nearly a decade of playing before the white mainstream music industry noticed, and LA Weekly recently wrote a great piece about LA’s Latin alternative music continuing to break down barriers, thanks in large part to visionary promoters like Viva Presents and Qvolé Collective. The thriving multicultural scene can be summed up by Qvolé’s motto…The Future is Latin. So in addition to great acts promoted by Qvolé like Buyepongo, Brainstory, Cutty Flam, here are six upcoming independent bands I think you should check out: Earth Arrow, Sin Color, The Altons, Twin Seas, Weapons of Mass Creation, Welfair. Continue Reading →

VAALA presents Viet Film Fest 2015: My Top 10 Picks!

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by Tom Nguyen

2015 is an important year for the Vietnamese diaspora, the largest of which is here in Southern California’s Little Saigon, Orange County. The end of April marks the 40th anniversary of the fall of Saigon and it’s personal to me because my family and I were among the first wave of post-Vietnam War refugees that would eventually number up to 2 million who have fled overseas by any means necessary.

April 16-19, the Vietnamese American Arts & Letters Association (VAALA) will present the Viet Film Fest at Ultraluxe Cinemas in Anaheim, near Disneyland. VAALA started the festival in 2003, then known as the Vietnamese International Film Festival (VIFF) and screened at UCI and UCLA campuses, with support from Vietnamese student groups. The festival started biennially every 2 years and I’m not sure if that was due to funding, lack of enough Vietnamese cinema to feature, or a combination of both, but fast forward to 2014 and a lot had changed! Continue Reading →