"Is everyone drinking?" asked the man in the aisle, with some real level of concern. "No!" shouted some people behind me, and the man passed around some bottles of Bud Lite. Satisfied with the community service he'd performed, he took a seat while we waited to leave.
I was aboard a chartered bus (not a party bus so much as a bus going to a party) on its way to the KROQ Microbrew Party at Santa Anita Park, featuring Lose Control and Shiny Toy Guns. I had never been to a racetrack before, nor had I ever been on a bus filled with so many attractive people. I wondered if I mistakenly got on a bus filled with the cast of the next beautiful-people-oriented reality show, and self-consciously smoothed my hair.
The bottle brush blooms brushed the bus windows as we pulled away from the Hermosa Beach pier, bottles of beer brushed thirsty lips, and we were off to KROQ-n-roll the Santa Anita horse track!
LOSE CONTROL TO ROCK-AND-ROLL!
We arrived on the infield just as ("the world famous") KROQ's Stryker was calling Lose Control to the stage. The band started rocking, and I tried to place its sound. Was that. . .Soundgarden crossed with Nirvana, mixed with a little Black Crowes? I had no idea, but it was guitar-driven and it sounded amazing. You should have heard lead guitarist AJ Bartholomew shredding it during "Mr. King Of It All." It was all the more impressive because he was playing with a fresh Nirvana-logo palm tattoo. He got it at Silver Platters record store in Seattle, which was giving the tattoos away for free in honor of the 20th anniversary of In Utero.
CLICK RAWR TO ROCK-N-SCROLL AFTER THE JUMP!
I talked to Jeff Nisen, lead singer of Lose Control, about his band's sound. He acknowledged the eclectic feeling of the music, telling me that he describes Lose Control's vibe as "hard rock flirting with metal while listening to punk rock talk about the blues on the radio." I mean. . .yeah! Nailed it. Once you hear them, you'll see.
If you haven't had a chance to catch Lose Control yet, you will. The band will be touring California and Arizona in the coming months. They're also plotting the follow-up to their 2012 EP. Nisen said, "The sophomore album will showcase our evolution into a more cohesive signature sound. If the first EP was testing the waters, this album will be the cannon ball." I expect the cannon ball will make a huge splash upon its release in early 2014.
Certainly you can find my opinion on Lose Control suspect. The lead singer is my boyfriend’s cousin. But. . okay, I have been to a lot of shows, of all genres, in lots of venues. So I know from a show. And the Lose Control show was. . .YEAH! Totally pro. Maybe I don’t really know how to review music yet, but I know how to say that I felt. . .YEAH!
They got me dancin, and singin, and movin to the groovin.
After Lose Control, Shiny Toy Guns took the stage. Are you kidding me? Who woulda thought there'd be some kick-ass rock show on the middle of a horse racing track? Lead singer Carah Faye is a true rock-n-roll performer. I wanted to interview Carah for this, but I'm just a cub blogger, man. I was too shy. But I could dance to Shiny Toy Guns' beats backstage. I guess the cool people don't dance backstage, because I was the only one dancing. There was even this seven-year-old girl who was way cooler than me. She was just like. . .so cool. In my entire life, I will never wear a pair of black slouchy boots and a cheetah-print hat. I just won’t, because I can’t pull it off. That seven year old. I aspire to be her someday. She was not dancing.
This was a KROQ Microbrew Party, but I don't really like microbrews. I had a sample just to say I did it, but you know. To me, a lot of microbrews taste like flower petals steeped in gym sock broth.
You know what sucks about food trucks? There are like, so many of them, and so many good choices, and you have just but the one belly. There were so many food trucks at this thing. I felt very harumphy that I had eaten a sandwich on the bus. I jealously watched as my boyfriend ordered a grilled cheese with bacon from the grilled cheese truck.
Also there was an Italian ice truck, Mustache Mike’s Italian Ice. I swear I have received no promotional consideration for this. I bought my own damn Italian ice, cash money. Tip in the tip jar, baby.
An Italian ice is like a Sno-Cone crossed with ice cream. You know those Icees you can get at the movie theater, cherry or blue, with the polar bear in the sweater on the cup? Or if you grew up like I did, as a luxury item at the KMart snack stand, two hours away?
An Italian ice is like an Icee, but like, mixed with a velvet pillow inviting you to relax your taste buds in a shady hammock on a hot summer day. And without that damn polar bear insulting your intelligence with the very idea that he’d wear a sweater. I’m working class, not stupid. I got the idea of cold with the name ICEE!
It was hot out, and I really liked that Mustache Mike’s Italian Ice. I ordered this one called “The Bomb.” If you grew up around the ice cream trucks of the 80s, you’ll remember The Bomb Pop. It ran around the time of the Cold War. It was a vaguely bullet-shaped, tiered popsicle. It was striped with the red, white, and blue of cherry, lemon, blue raspberry, and American aggression. The Bomb Italian ice was really the same thing. Delish!
Honestly, I felt kind of bad for Mustache Mike’s Italian Ice because they got a shitty spot in the food truck line up. Basically last, and next to the eternally popular grilled cheese truck! It was really an act of mercy that I ordered, but man. That was a good decision. The Bomb was like. . .the bomb. Mustache Mike’s Italian Ice. First in your line-up.
COMPETITIVE HORSES WITH SMALL MEN PERCHED ATOP THEM!
I had never been to a horse track before. I had no idea how to bet on horses, but I like to try new things. I struggled with figuring out the betting machine, and finally hit the help button. While I waited for an agent, I listened to people place bets at the windows with live agents, who I didn't want to bother with my cluelessness.
Soon, Susie arrived to help. Burgundy-vested, she said she'd been working at the track for 25 years. She told me she enjoyed showing new people the ropes. She helped me place my bet. After I wagered, she walked me over to the big screen to watch the race. I jumped and cheered and did that thing where betting people tear their hair out, but my horse come in third from last. Susie looked at me. I shrugged. "I have no idea what I'm doing! The guy at the window next to me said, 'Five dollars show on #4!' So that's what I said to you!" Susie shook her head sadly. "Kari," she said. "I've been here 25 years. Never, ever do window surveillance. You'll always lose." She's probably right, but I lose the lottery frequently, so I'm accustomed to the sting.
BALLOON HATS WITH KROQ'S SAM THE ARMENIAN COMEDIAN!
"Look," Matt said. "That's Sam the Armenian Comedian." I had never heard of Sam the Armenian Comedian. Matt told me that he had been listening to him on KROQ for a decade, and that he was a punching-bag kind of character. Kind of like Meg on "Family Guy." I watched him delight children with some basic balloon animals, and give a grown man a balloon hat.
I wanted a balloon hat. Also, I'm into celebrities of all kinds: minor, major, loved, hated. I said to Matt, "I want to get a picture with Sam." He said, "Well, you're not really supposed to want to take a picture with Sam. That's kind of the point." But no, no, no. I saw the good in Sam's heart, and I saw how happy he made those children. I wanted a photo with Sam.
So I strolled on over to Sam backstage (I like saying that: "I was backstage"). I asked him I could take a photo. He kindly agreed.
So, Matt took a few shots, and after the third, I tried to pull away from Sam. Three seemed like enough, both for me and the man's time. But Sam. Hung. On.
In this photo, that's me looking at Sam to say, "I think that's enough shots." He said, "No, no no. I forgot to take my sunglasses off." And he's moving to peel off his glasses. He did that, and basically held them in front of my face while Matt courteously took a few more snaps.
Before we left, I thought, well, for all of that, I'm getting a damn balloon hat. So I asked Sam if he would make me a hat, and he was happy to.
He made it in blue and orange, the colors Matt and I use when we are being one of those really annoying adorable couples. I was happy. I said, "You made that in our colors!" Though annoyed, because that kind of bullshit is annoying, he was gracious. "I'm psychic," he said, and told me a story of how he had a strong feeling a 1963 parade in Armenia would be halted for some reason, and it was. Due to the assassination of JFK. Who knows why he felt that, but his story kind of made up for the near-groping. He was telling us that he loves America.
Sam made me an awesome balloon hat. I wore it for a while, happily.
After walking around rocking my balloon hat for a while longer, it was time to leave. On the bus back, there was a drunk guy. A realllly sloppy drunk guy. He was delightfully incoherent. I decided he was really the prime candidate for a balloon hat, so I plopped it on his head.
He laughed madly, pulled it off, and popped one of the balloons that made up the hat. I think it was really the most awesome send-off for Sam's balloon hat.
Sam wanted us to know he's at the Comedy Store on Sunset, Mondays, at 10 pm. Go support him. He makes balloon hats for grown-ups! :-D
A SUNSET SEND-OFF!