Aloha, Hawaii!

goodbyehawaiiWell, it has come to that time; We are moving from Hawaii. Actually we are travelling from Hawaii to Germany at this very moment! The house was packed and the car shipped earlier this week and goodbyes were given at several dinners. It’s a bittersweet thing, really; The excitement of living in a new country offset by the sadness at leaving the place that has become our home.

We’ve had a good run, though. We met many cool people and had many awesome times in China Town and the greater Oahu area. L and I fell in love and got married. We made a baby. Truly, it has been an eventful three years.

This blog has chronicled some of those times, but it is by no means complete. Maybe some day I’ll actually get around to telling all of the stories we’ve accrued, but not today. I’m a bit too busy moving halfway around the world.

So, what of the future of HEP? Honestly, I’m not sure know where we go from here. I have some ideas, but I’m going to stay tight lipped until I figure everything out. For now, I will leave the 33 posts from the past two years as a sort of memorial to our love for China Town, Oahu, and the people who made those places great. We will miss you all and hopefully we can get together again some day.

Stay classy, Honolulu. Aloha and mahalo.panoramahawaii

Advertisements

No Suck Fest 5

Awesome NSF 5 Banner by the Gurus Themselves

No Suck Fest, Hawaii’s biggest DIY music festival, is going on this weekend for its fifth year. I managed to attend NSF 3, but not the outing last year, so it was high on my priority list to make it out this time around. Tonight was Day 2 of 3 and included performances by Animal Mother, The Instigators, Pink Mist, TV Microwave, Beaman, Harshist, Siblings, Botoroke (Karaoke), and mainlanders Gentlemen Prefer Blood and Big Eyes.

The mix of bands was actually quite amazing. There was a strong pop-punk showing in TV Microwave and Beaman. The former is very reminiscent of an early Blink-182 with the same strong beats and a sort of rough, fun-loving edge to it. Beaman is a bit harder to describe, though definitely inspired by early 90’s  alt/pop-punk with snappy, quick beats and songs about buttholes. The band also includes Adam Funari, China Town’s fastest drummer and an all around good dude. Oh, and he also managed to smash his way through his snare drum half-way through the set. Good job, Adam.

                          

We’ve talked about Harshist quite a bit, but it’s worth noting that they have honed that noise rock/experimental sound even more since I last saw them and they are playing damned tight. Honestly, I still haven’t found a way to fully describe this band beyond calling them a tempest mixture of harsh and smooth. If that didn’t make any sense to you, then maybe you should check out the live set they did for KTUH on their Bandcamp.

The out-of-towners that played were as different as their roots suggest. Big Eyes, originally out of New York but now residing in Seattle, is an eclectic mix of genres that falls more or less into indie rock, albeit with a definite ear for rock of decades past. I picked up their latest LP (Almost Famous) after the set and I will say they certainly played a grittier set for the mostly punk crowd tonight. Glad they repped well for us Northwesterners.

LA natives Gentlemen Prefer Blood, however, is all punk. The three-piece’s fast, growly set really got the crowd moving. The band was very experienced and crafty, dealing easily with a broken guitar string and three or four microphones knocked over by sprawling moshers. I think the lead singer may have been kicked in the face, too, though it certainly didn’t slow him down. I’m rubbish with punk, but I will say I sensed some Rancid and Irish Punk themes in the music. You punks can call me stupid after checking out some of the free music on their Bandcamp.

I managed to miss the first three bands (Animal Mother, The Instigators, and Pink Mist), but I’ve heard tell they rocked as expected. I have actually seen Animal Mother recently and would highly recommend their Strokes/Weezerish sound.

I want to make a separate note to the crowd tonight: You guys are fucking crazy. Now, I may not be as active in the scene as I used to be, but I definitely feel as though I know most Chi-To crowds. The one that came out tonight was like nothing I’ve seen before. They moshed every song. They screamed every song. They crowd surfed every last song. That’s right, crowd surfed. At Mercury bar. Sometimes there were two surfers riding the thirty person dance floor. And every time one would finally drop down, another would just jump right up. It was madness, with limbs flailing and beers spilling. Not that I hated it. I loved it. It was just so different than a usual night at Merc. And wow, do my arms feel tired.

So, you think I forgot about Siblings, eh? Well, that is far from the truth. Due to their placement between the travelling bands, Siblings actually only got about 11 minutes worth of stage time. But it was 11 minutes of raw punk power. They had the mosh spinning and slamming harder than at any other time during the night.

Not fully content with that small of an outing, however, they invited some of us to a super secret location for a post-show set. Now, I wouldn’t use the word ‘intimate’ to describe any punk set, but this was a good as it gets; Just the band and fifteen people in a tiny room. No moshing. No talking. Just the sound of every song in their repertoire washing over us, all of the fury and frustration ricocheting off of the walls and our psyches. It was an amazing experience I am glad to have been able to take a part in.

So, if any of this No Suck Fest business has piqued your interest, tomorrow night (or tonight, I guess) is the Third and Final Day. If you are available, you would be silly to miss. It’s at Anna Banana’s starting at 4 and going all night. The two travelling bands from Day 2 will be there as well as the rest of the visitors and some new local talent. Also, check out the No Suck Fest website for the schedule and updated information about the after-fest beach party. And, as always, you can see more pictures at Flickr as well as check us out at Facebook and Twitter. Keep rockin’, Honolulu.

These Damned Out-of-Towners

Last night was pretty surprising. I badgered some friends into taking me out to celebrate my five year Army anniversary (wish I could say those flew by…). Being the smooth, culture savvy dudes we are, we made our way down to the always fantastic Downbeat Lounge for beers and bullshit. At the door, we discovered there was actually a show going on. Well, thank my lucky stars. The cover was $10, a rarity for the Lounge. I knew something big was up.

Show Poster

So, what was up? Jesse Wagner of The Aggrolites and Vic Ruggiero of The Slackers were playing! Don’t recognize anything from the previous sentence? Neither did I before last night, but my more ska-oriented friends quickly pushed me into slapping down $10 to find out. It was definitely worth the sum.

Josh86 and the Pressure were opening when we arrived. This is the more reggae/first-wave ska side of the various bands Josh plays in. I had actually never caught this one before last night, but it certainly keeps up with the high standard of awesomeness his other bands have set. Josh also owns the bar and half of the shows these days, so you’re unlikely to hear any negatives out of me.

Jesse Wagner is a guy. A very cool guy who, like Vic, wears a straw hat and knows his way around a guitar. He played a smooth mix of Aggrolites tunes and covers, including a ska version of a Clash song that had the whole crowd ooohing along with him. Speaking of audience participation: Jesse began his set solo on guitar, but each new song seemed to bring another excited fan to the stage to share the backup mic. By the end of his set, there were six drunken belters on the stage and a crowd screaming the words back at them. This is not usually how these out-of-towners do it. Luckily for us, Jesse did.

Vic Ruggiero brought a different show with him. Whereas Jesse is a ska/reggae playing Californian on guitar, Vic is a folksy/bluesy New Yorker with a lovely Long Island accent simultaneously playing guitar, harmonica, drums, and tambourine. Oh, and singing. The kind of coordination this requires for the simplest of songs is beyond me, but these songs were not simple at all. From “Takin’ Care of Business” (No, not the Bachman-Turner Overdrive song; That one has a g) to the Hawaiian-adapted, fifteen minute wildlife screeching story-song “Animals Run the House,” Vic laid down his own beats then danced across his guitar  and waa-waaed his harmonica to them.

Eventually Jesse jumped back on stage for some duo-action. While this seemed fairly impromptu at first, the performance eventually revealed its true nature in the form of a twenty minute medley of nearly every 50’s rock song I can name, all wrapped by a story of one friend warning another of (what else?) a woman. Then, with a twinkle in their eyes, they informed us they would be playing until Josh kicked them out. And, you know what? Like stand-up dudes, they kept their promise.

Want to get your very own Jesse-Vic experience? Well, they’re burning down Breakers as I write this and they will be making a return to Downbeat Lounge tomorrow, Saturday, June 8th, with Black Square. You’d be a sucker to miss it.

As usual, there are plenty of blurry, camera-phone pics at the Flickr (people still use this one, right? There are some still holding out against the Instagram onslaught?). Also, check out the Facebook and Twitter, ’cause, like, whatever. Animals Run the House.

Kendle Sings Bad Touch and Other Silliness

Hello there! Long time no see. We’re now 3/26 or ~11.5% of the way to our goal I laid out last post, oh so long ago. Not so bad.

Still, since I haven’t posted since January, here’s an embarassing video of my friend and me singing Bad Touch by Bloodhound Gang at his going away party:

I think that was punishment enough.

Anyway, on the HEP front, we’ve been working on how we want to structure our online creative presence. While I have been sitting on my lazy ass, L has been blogging up a storm over at From Honolulu to Eternity. Now that I have finally started moving again, I’ve been working on some projects that I think will be great for HEP, but I’ll post more about those when they are a bit more developed.

So, there are some shows going on this weekend that we should talk about:

Downbeat Lounge (who we should be profiling soon) is presenting Drunken Lullabies, an showcase of local bands playing classic and contemporary Irish music. Starts at 9pm tonight and is free, like most Lounge shows.

Friday Night Freak Beat is also happening tonight  at 9 down on Kapiolani at Edge Bar. Blood Cave, Emu Attack, and Birds of Paradise are playing as well as friends Annie, Travis, and Corby DJing vinyl. This show is also free and will be open to 18+ for you youngins’.

Finally for tonight, Kaleidoscope is having a special event named “The Hot 4“. These four are Melaniie and the Mel-Tones, Dischord and Rye, DJ Jet Boy, DJ Ross Jackson. I’m in it for the John Ridgeway. You can find this one at  Thirtyninehotel at 9, though it’s gonna cost you $10. Totes worth it in my opinion.

The big event for us this weekend is Metric at the Republik. BAMP really does bring great music out our way and Metric will be the first time I’ve actually been able to get out to enjoy it. It’s a bit steeper at $35 ($45 for risers), but should prove to be a great time. Make sure to get your tickets at Flavorus. Seek us out in general admission and say hi! I’ll be the one in the tie. Lounge opens at 6pm and show starts at 8.

If you are more interested in a sexy show, tomorrow night will also see the always great Cherry Blossom Cabaret hosting a Mad Hatter’s Hat Party! These lovely ladies host a great Speakeasy every month and the few I’ve been fortunate enough to attend have been the best of times. It all goes down at Mercury Bar at 9pm. $10 at the door, or $8 if you play along and wear a hat.

Let’s end this silliness with a classic:

Happy New Year!

Well, it’s 2013 now. I hope you all had excellent New Year’s Days and, if you’re like me, the hangover was well earned. We’re going to ring in this New Year a little differently than 2012. We haven’t put together any lists (though I reserve the right to change my mind about the lists later), but we have been pondering what is it we do here at HEP.

As you can see by the lovely little Year 2012 summary, we only posted nine times last year. That’s not even one post a month. The reason for this drop from twenty the year before? We just went to far fewer shows this year. Now, we’ve already talked about this in a previous blog, but not much has changed and that post was in September. So, what do we do? There are three options here: we can limp along like a three legged dog, just posting every so often and racking up about the same amount of posts this year, or we can let HEP fade into obscurity like some grizzled old hipster wandering off to Ventura to die.

Or we can evolve to fit the niche we now live in. When we started this blog, we were two young people going to shows most nights and having few cares in the world. But we got married. We got a dog, an apartment, married friends with kids. We foster dogs and ride our bikes and try to get to the beach on the rare days it’s not raining. We shop at funky little shops and buy silly things. We listen to NPR.

Put simply, we’re not who we once were. So, this blog cannot continue to be written by people who don’t exist. Starting with the next post, we are expanding our gaze. We will, of course, still cover what’s going on with the music scene in Chi-To when we get our lazy bones that way. But we’re also going to talk about restaurants, bars, stores. The works. We are a culture blog, after all. Culture exists in more than smoky rooms filled with the rattle of sticks on drums and picks on guitars.

With this expanded subject matter, we have made a New Year’s resolution of sorts. We think we can post at least twice a month until we depart the island sometime later this year. This should be somewhere near the twenty we put up in 2011. The ultimate number would be twenty six posts, an average of one per two weeks of all of 2013. If we can make that goal, I will buy a giraffe or something.

Hey, we all have to have our goals, right? Here’s to the New Year and good luck on those resolutions you all have. Let’s see if we can work on them together.

One Thousand One, One Thousand Two…

Oh, sorry, I wasn’t expecting you. I’m just working on my guns a bit (I don’t know if you heard me, but I did over a thousand).

Well, since you’re here, why don’t we talk a little? Have you heard about Harshist recently? They’re blowing up all over the place! Every time I check up on them, they’re putting out a tape or touring my hometown or something else awesome. Certainly an excellent beginning to this newish band.

I tramonti just released an album tonight at a pretty excellent Mercury shindig.  We missed Emu Attack and Harshist, but did manage to slide in before Siblings hit the stage to melt some faces.

I miss Gnarwhal. Luckily, vets Adam and Nick are rolling around with new bands Beaman and Francis Knife, respectively. You might have seen pop-punk Beaman in your Honolulu travels. Did you know they’re releasing a 7″? Well, now you do and can join the party for it. And guess what? Francis Knife will be playing, too. Temple Fugate and TV Microwave are even more icing on this musical cake. Won’t you partake?

So, I’d love to leave you with a promise that we will post more often, but let’s be frank: my reputation for fulfilling such promises is in shambles. Instead, I’ll promise that we will attend more shows. Hopefully, more shows equals more HEP. And I hope more HEP is good for all of us.

That’s all for us here at HEP. You stay classy, Honolulu.

P.S.: All of you who recognize and thank us at shows are a huge boon. Blogging can be painful work, especially since we rarely see our posts commented on or shared. Seeing the faces behind those view counts rocks us. Huge thanks to you guys and gals.

End of an Era: Gnarwhal’s Final Show

So, it’s been a month and I think I have sufficiently grieved over the passing of my favorite Honolulu band, Gnarwhal. As we reported last time, Erica Westly, rhythm guitarist and belting vocalist, has left the building… or island, or whatever. Their final show was at Mercury Bar on Thursday, the 24th of May, 2012. It also happened to be their best ever.

As per HEP style, we were actually late to the proceedings and missed another set by the newcomers Dead Dead Millies. I’ve heard tell their near weekly shows are paying off in stage experience. And, as every good nerd knows, experience is how you level up your sound.

Harshist was just setting up when we rolled in. I’ve been hearing a lot of buzz about this new band featuring Steve Smith on drums, Travis Wiggins on guitar, Alex Nagata on bass, and Annie Hollis up front with the mic. I was quite excited for them to start as they sound checked.

Suddenly, a cacophony of noise erupted from the speakers louder than any other time I’ve ever been to Merc. Everyone in the band threw out all their instruments could muster in a screeching, ear splitting shriek, with Annie’s unfathomable screaming over the top. As the inexplicable sonic power continued past the minute mark, many of us began to wonder if this was the song or merely the most outrageous final sound check in the history of music.

And then, as quickly as it had come, the discord slid into a rhythmic headbanger. It was as if someone had turned off a spot light and we were left there, blinking the world back into focus. That world was one of 90’s inspired noise rock. From song to song, I felt so many tugs from the bygone decade that I could barely nail them down. This one would evoke Hole, that one felt very Rage Against the Machine. Even Smashing Pumpkins seemed to bleed into the rhythm-centric music. Over the top of the instrumentals, Annie Hollis’ voice lashed about like a whip. At times, she would sync up, flowing with enough rhymes and unrhymes to color the sound in a hip-hop vein. And at other times she would tear across the fabric of sound, eschewing harmony or beat to course with vocal adrenaline. These complete paradigm shifts came and went seemingly at random.

And that (aside from the banshee’s call at the beginning of the set) was my only hangup with this band: they never seemed to stay in one place long enough for me to sink in and get comfortable. Being kept on your toes can be fun and interesting, but at times I felt like those poor White House guards fighting Nightcrawler in X-2. Not to say that I didn’t enjoy Harshist, because I honestly did. They’re bringing a new, original sound to China Town and they’re talented. I’m confident that, with time, they will hook me. And, perhaps, change the scene in the process.

Up next was the band we all had been waiting for: Gnarwhal! Well, not exactly. With the addition of a bass, they had transformed into The Muskrats, a more pop-friendly band that might have been the Ed Sullivan Show version of Gnarwhal. The crowd danced swing instead of moshing and we all generally had a great time with the sticky-sweet faux-band.

But, of course, we had come to see Gnarwhal, so the bassist found his way off the stage and the main attraction kicked it into high gear with several of their Gold songs. The crowd surged and cut loose, getting rowdier with every song. During slow, deep songs, there was a ripple and twitch of growing excitement, only to explode when the music shot into the atmosphere.

They rolled into the familiar songs, the ones from Cow Belly I had fallen in love with originally. “Cadillac,” “Lies,” and “Fist for a Face” were all there. Adam even stepped out from behind the drums to exchange places with Erica for a song, though which one it was has escaped me in the world of booze and cigarette smoke.

Showing their solidarity as a band up until the end, Gnarwhal even played a brand new song in the middle of their set. I’ve never heard of a band putting out new music at their farewell show, but, then again, this was no normal band. Of course, they stumbled through it, but these candid moments only endeared them more to my heart. These were truly three people who enjoyed every second of playing together. And we enjoyed every moment with them. I will miss them more than any other band I’ve ever listened to.

They put up about ten songs, then tried to say they were done. The crowd wouldn’t have any of it, badgering them into a first, second, third encore. Still, something was missing and we all knew what it was. A call was taken up for a song, the Gnarwhal song, and the band obliged with the deal that this was their last, last, last, last song. The song to end them was the one to shake the walls with  the voices of the crowd, of the band, of the bartenders. Possibly the loudest noise I have ever heard was two hundred people screaming, “Tell me what you want to do tonight.”

Gnarwhal was a hard act to follow, but Hell Caminos managed to round out the night perfectly. The bass, drums, and guitar filled psychobilly rocked and rocked hard. So hard, in fact, that the band members crowd surfing during the set wasn’t enough. The upright bass, microphone, even the drums, all found their way off of the stage and into the crowd. If this were New Orleans, it would have been called looting, but here it was good old rock and roll.

For more photos, check out the Flickr and watch the Facebook and Twitter for updates on shows.