This review, just like Sevdaliza, is better late than never

by Cindy Ly Rozas

Sevdaliza, the Iranian born Dutch musician, dancer and visual artist that’s mesmerizing the music world with her unique avante gard glitch pop, performed her first U.S. show to a sold-out crowd at the Echoplex in Los Angeles this past Monday night. Originally scheduled for an earlier March date, Sevdaliza’s imminent L.A. debut was delayed by the administration’s travel ban, which directly affected nationals of seven muslim majority countries, including Sevda Alizadeh’s native Iran. The travel ban, which went on to inspire the track Bevin, was one way for Sevdaliza to transform her frustrations and disappointments with our current state of affairs into art.

Sevdaliza is actually really great at transforming. She transformed from child refugee to star basketball player on the Dutch national team. From then, only 4 years ago, Sevdaliza transformed herself into a producer and musician, DIY’ing every aspect of her career so far. Just this past April, she transformed the release of her first full length album, into a surreal visual experience; “ISON” manifested in physical form.

It’s hard for any international artist to tour the U.S. without a full length album behind them, but Sevdaliza could have totally done it solely based on the strength of her singles and EPs she’s been steadily dropping since 2014. Industrial R&B with a futuristic aesthetic.

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Australian sensation Tash Sultana plays dynamic Sold Out LA show at The Echo

Story and photos by guest writer Gerren Kelsaw

Australian born Natasha Sultana, known on stage as Tash Sultana, is representative of a new cadre of artists in the internet age. The self taught guitarist and singer-songwriter garnered millions of hits with busking videos before embarking on her professional career. The warm reception even led her to ask the audience at The Echo “How did you hear about me?”

Sultana came on stage in her trademark style. A loose Harley Davidson T-shirt and baseball cap covering her long curly locks. Her looping guitar style mesmerizes as she uses beatboxing and rhythmic licks to build the base of sonically fulfilling tracks. What is most compelling about her performance are the dynamics she uses to work the crowd. Unafraid to reach for the upper notes whilst still availing herself of the raw and rugged parts of her voice. Varying her playing style between fast guitar in rock style and quiet almost bluesy tones throughout the set. Tash is reminiscent of early Ani DiFranco crossed with the timbre and sweetness of Adele. Perhaps her most recognized song “Jungle” brought the sold out concert venue to raucous appreciation. Continue Reading →

Our Picks for NYE 2017 in Los Angeles!

by Tom Nguyen

When I’m considering where to spend New Year’s Eve in Los Angeles, I look for 3 things:

  • Great live bands and dance music we typically cover on this site.
  • It won’t break the bank (Some free, most under $30).
  • Whether big or small events, I’m looking for good vibes, not pretentiousness.

If you’re looking for the same, here are my recommendations (in order of cost): Continue Reading →

Review: Princess Nokia, Afro-Nuyorican feminist rapper, defiant and proud at sold out LA show

Story and photos by Mayda del Valle

Armed with a microphone and a stick of sage, Princess Nokia cast a spell on everyone at her sold out LA show at The Echo. After baptizing the audience with a bottle of water and jumping off stage to crowd surf during her first song, the anthem Tomboy, she stood poised at the edge of the stage dressed in a white sports bra and baggy pants, proclaiming “These are the rules of the show: ladies to the front, all you ally brothers get to the back. That’s right, this is a brown queer space. We don’t do none of that misogynist shit.” And with that the crowd cheered in response, and the women present claimed the space we usually have to elbow and shove our way past men at concerts to stand in. It might be this unapologetic claiming of space for marginalized identities that has led to Nokia’s growing popularity on the underground scene, and the sold out European tour she just returned from. Continue Reading →

Weekly Highlights: Mbongwana Star, Ibeyi, Bombino, Imarhan

by Tom Nguyen

It has been an incredible April month for LA fans of music from Africa and its diaspora, as many new bands performed for the first time here, as well as returning favorites. After I saw Songhoy Blues (read my previous review), I was looking forward to seeing Mbongwana Star from the DRC, a new band with former members of Staff Benda Bilili.


A lot of Staff Benda Bilili fans like myself were saddened to hear of the band’s acrimonious breakup but according to a Guardian interview, Yakala “Coco” Ngambali and Nsituvuidi “Theo” Nzonza have not wasted any time dwelling on it, as they take their music to a whole other level with Mbongwana Star. The music is raucous, energetic and full of the infectious soukous dance rhythms Congolese music is known for. Add to that the hard-charging electric guitar riffs and drums, and you have a combustible, unstoppable dance party! Here’s a taste of what went down at The Roxy:


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Weekly Highlights: Daymé Arocena, Quantic and Songhoy Blues

by Tom Nguyen

TOO MANY superlatives to describe Daymé Arocena, the talented Cuban singer and composer who graced us with her presence last Monday, March 28 at CFAER: Incredible, charismatic, glowing, powerful, humorous, magnetic. I had chills during so much of her set and I definitely wasn’t alone…everyone in the room was enthralled by her.

Daymé let us know she was playing a different set than her usual…much more rumba faithful to the documentary Havana Cultura Rumba Sessions: La Clave, the very thorough documentary on the history and current state of rumba music and dance in Havana, that was screened before the show. With clave in hand and an excellent band backing her, including LA’s beloved Lazaro Galarraga on congas, she took us on a soaring journey of Afro Cuban rumba and jazz with her powerful voice.

Daymé Arocena is not just a traditional Afro-Cuban singer. She does so much experimentation…her rendition of Ella Fitzgerald’s Cry Me A River with just clave and congas accenting her voice was such an eccentric and unique Afro-Cuban take on a soulful classic. In fact, she told us she was trying new compositions that very night. So bold, so confident! She always humored us between songs and got playful towards the end of her set with a very funky Don’t Unplug My Body. Thanks to Docta Sez for capturing some of her greatness!

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Echo Park Film Center: Empowering Community through Affordable Filmmaking

Story and Photos by Oscar Bautista

We all have stories to tell, no matter what our backgrounds are or what experiences we have had. It’s what makes us individuals and brings us together as people. Though we live in this world of constant social traffic, it doesn’t mean every voice has that platform and it especially doesn’t mean that every story is heard.

That’s why when I recently visited the Echo Park Film Center (EPFC) I was relieved to find a space and community dedicated to changing this state of communication. Walking through the busy cross street of N. Alvarado and Sunset, you may not even see it, but this hidden space is where individuals give back to the communities they call home.
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Hollywood Hills Realtor invites Hipsters to discover Boyle Heights

by Tom Nguyen

I happened to see the following post on my Twitter feed yesterday from Boyle Heights resident, Ofelia Carillo, asking others to respond to a post which upset her:


Reading it alarmed me too. It’s brazen and it’s obvious in its message and its audience: touting Boyle Heights to “hipster” home buyers as some kind of newly discovered oasis amid the increasingly unaffordable Los Angeles real estate market. The twitter account lists a real estate blog Just Off Mulholland run by Jimmy Bayan of John Aaroe Group. The properties listed run up to the multi-million dollar range in areas of Beverly Hills, West Hollywood, Hollywood Hills, Los Feliz, Silverlake, Echo Park…it’s a westward march that has apparently now led him to discover Boyle Heights.

His post strikes me as insensitive as last year’s flyer by another realtor wanting to lead a bicycle tour for prospective buyers. If you recall, that realtor was also touting “charming, historic” Boyle Heights with the headline “Why rent in Downtown when you can own in Boyle Heights.” The community backlash then was quick, vociferous and clear — anything hinting of gentrification would be challenged.

What is maddening to many residents and activists like Carrillo is this Christopher Columbus-mentality of “discovering” places to live for a more affluent set of people, who have the means to come in and buy property in minority and working class neighborhoods, where ownership is beyond the means of most people already living there. As wealthier inhabitants move in, prices and rents go up and working class families who’ve been eking out an existence for generations get displaced.

Boyle Heights especially has great historical significance in regards to housing in Los Angeles, but its the “historic” part of that charm that often is lost on new discoverers like Bayan. I personally tweeted to Bayan to educate him on some of this history and the challenges the community has overcome. Continue Reading →

Culture Collide Lineup Announced! One of our Favorite Festivals!

by Tom Nguyen

Hands down, there is no other festival in LA like Culture Collide where you can see emerging independent bands from so many countries all in one weekend, up close and personal in venues across Echo Park! We love the fact that we never recognize most names on the roster each year…they really do search far & wide all over the globe for an eclectic selection of acts that most often are reaching LA audiences for the 1st time!

If you love discovering new rising stars in intimate venues, you’re in for a treat! Our 2 favorite discoveries last year were Adi Ulmansky from Israel, the talented bad-ass who went from technical glitches her 1st day to having Moby show up to her last show, and Maya Vik from Norway, who’s bringing back Prince’s 80s Minneapolis funk and making it her own. We can’t wait to see who captures our musical hearts this year!

This year’s headliners are Cloud Nothings (USA), Nina Persson (Sweden), Quantic (Colombia) and Until the Ribbon Breaks (UK) and there are so many more bands! We love the festival’s international happy hours too, pairing music with food and drinks from the artist’s homeland. In its 5th year, the fun will run October 16-18 and tickets are $35. Start getting acquainted with the artists announced so far and follow Culture Collide on Twitter for latest updates and more bands to be added!


FILTER Magazine’s 4th Annual Culture Collide Part 2: US Acts

We’ve been eagerly anticipating FILTER Magazine‘s Culture Collide music festival and it’s finally here, starting Thursday, October 10 and running thru Saturday, October 12. We’ve already written about the international acts we’re keen to see in Part 1, and here are the bands from the US in our Part 2. Click on the genres below to explore the bands!

Acoustic/Folk/Soul     Electronica/Dance       Pop     Rock