California Love: A Travelogue, The Final Days
A truly inspiring place to be, California’s got it going on like nobody’s business: slammin’ music, art, film, nature, weather and, of course, people. There are endless amounts of things to discover out there and too many places to explore and get lost in. My love affair with the Golden State is far from over, but, here’s my final round-up of sights, shows, parties, interviews, munch, adventures and more from the West-Coast… for now.
On the 17th November we caught the legendary Roy Ayers playing at the Exchange downtown – a pretty special show in an epic art-deco, Narnia-like venue. Pete Rock was due to play with the band, but, as it fell on Heavy D’s funeral (Rest in Peace my Overweight Lover) J.Rocc stepped in and stepped up. Playing a perfect warm up set, cutting up and slowing down classics such as Deelite’s ‘Groove is in the Heart’ to create an eclectic hip hop buzz, before providing sample-heavy introductions to the main show songs. Roy and his band had an impressive and infectious energy, and you could feel the love for Ayers’ music without a doubt as the crowd sang along and danced up a soul-induced storm. Personal highlight had to be a climactic rendition of ‘Running Away’ – how could you ever stay still to that song??
A much more intimate show went down at Sky bar on the 21st November when Blood Orange played as part of the Mondrian Sessions. A small and completely enraptured crowd gathered hotel poolside and allowed the soulful vocals and tender electro rhythms to wash over them in the chilly night air, with one hella pretty view of LA at night from West Hollywood providing the show’s backdrop.
Switching up the tempo again – the next night we checked out the OverDoz gig at The Roxy on Sunset Strip. The famed venue was absolutely heaving with a young, hyped up crowd – the stage even got stormed by excited fans right at the end of the lively, theatrical show.
One of the absolute highlights of working at Delicious Vinyl was having the privilege of meeting one of my heroes – the one and only Fatlip from my favourite band The Pharcyde. On my last day in LA we managed to sit down at the office for a chat about his music and career, so watch out for that feature coming up…
As well as putting out dope music, Delicious Vinyl are responsible for curating and inspiring equally fresh and inspiring music videos, fashion and pieces of art – and, last month one anonymous graffiti artist dropped by the offices to bless the building’s balcony with this dope piece:
For a taster of some of Delicious Vinyl’s extensive back catalogue of heavy tunes- check out these Bobby Evans mixes:
To celebrate Thanksgiving weekend, Freak City hosted ‘Black Power Friday’ – a night of late shopping, dancing, expressive fashion, dj sets from Chico Sonido and Venus X, live graffiti, and yours truly on the bar opening up cheap cans of beer like a pro.
A couple of the evening’s highlights for me had to be a silver spray-painted performer from the Boulevard busting in whilst OldYoung was on the mic and pulling some flash robot moves on the dance-floor, as well as when a sexy, high-heeled, suspender-wearing lady whipped out her spray-can and began tagging the walls with unparalleled nonchalance.
When I was kindly given some men’s tees by Twelve Bar clothing and Delicious Vinyl I handed them over to Vally of LA Rap (http://www.rapraprap.la/) to personalise them a little – here are the fly results of my custom cropped ‘California Love’ tee and one of a kind ‘Jay Deelicious’ dress (Thank you Vally!):
For some ‘beauty bass’ flavours check out this Freak City Mixtape – first track ‘Hoodrats and Copycats’ is by Freak City’s very own Vally Rap and Justin Time, together known as The Keyishe:
Once again, courtesy of underground comedy guru Kelly Piercy we were able to check out some up and coming sketch and improvised comedy at The Groundlings Theatre & School (http://www.groundlings.com/) – a massively revered spot on Melrose where the likes of Will Ferrell and Kirsten Wiig trained.
A charming and historical place for traditional cuisine is The Musso & Frank Grill (http://www.mussoandfrank.com/) on Hollywood Boulevard – eating there is like stepping into a Humphrey Bogart movie where its menus and waiters that have barely changed since it opened in 1919, complete with old-school style telephone booths and mad authentic ambiance.
For a touch of more rustic Americana there’s a little spot on Sunset called ‘Township Kitchen Americana & Saloon’ (http://www.townshipsaloon.com/index.html) – a nice, chilled atmosphere with whiskey, American beer and comfort food in abundance.
Need some Chicago style deep dish pizza? Just head to Masa in Echo Park (http://masaofechopark.com/) – the vibe is super warm and friendly, halfway between an Italian restaurant and a cosy friend’s living room, and the food is as delicious as it is hearty.
The Oaks Gourmet (http://www.theoaksgourmet.com/) deli in Franklin Village is worth checking out for an array of fine foods and intriguing selection of alcohol – pumpkin beer anyone? There’s a nice café counter too serving bakery goods and coffees…
A cool bar worth checking out downtown is La Cita Bar (http://site.lacitabar.com/) on South Hill St for a pretty varied line up of DJ nights and kitsch-y décor.
On the 24th November I experienced my first ever Thanksgiving and, being lucky enough to celebrate not once but twice in one day, ate my weight in pumpkin pie and just had a pretty perfect day chilling with and appreciating friends – big love and gratitude to Cali.
Before coming out to Los Angeles we were of course aware of Griffith Park, but it took us a while to locate some other greenery in the city – though, we did eventually manage to discover two nice parks to get your picnic on and take in the beautiful view. Firstly, there’s the petite slope of a park at the California Plaza downtown which really is just worth visiting in order to ride the cutest and most unnecessary train ‘Angel’s Flight Railway’ (http://angelsflight.com/).
We hit the road and headed to Las Vegas on the 30th November and, given that we spent less than 24 hours there, managed to tick an impressive amount of boxes: hotels, casinos, slot machines, dangerous amounts of alcohol, outdoor walkways, blackjack, clubs, fake Europe, strippers, swimming pools, one tanked-up birthday girl and some intensely beautiful, epic drives through the Nevada Desert. One of the best parts was surprising said birthday girl (who was psyched up to stay at the Travelodge) with a sexy suite at the Hard Rock Hotel – what can I say? That’s how we roll…
Before eventually heading back to London, I stopped off where I started: visiting family and friends in San Francisco, managing to scope out a few places I wasn’t hip to before. Deep into the Mission District is a place called Dynamo Donuts (http://www.dynamodonut.com/) which serves up super foodie flavours such as ‘Chocolate Rose Geranium Hazelnut’ and ‘Molasses Guinness Pear’. Another well-known bakery worth hitting up is Tartine (http://www.tartinebakery.com/) on Guerrero for their sweet goods – just expect queues. On the 10th December I was lucky enough to go to a party at Engine Works – a ridiculously cool gallery/studio space doubling up as a warehouse party venue. It has a dingy basement for bands downstairs, and sofas, a bar and dance-floor upstairs with hella cute vibes – there was a serious Wes Anderson vibe to the night and crowd coming in and out of the inconspicuous red door on Capp St.
Well, I guess all good things must eventually come to an end – and, on the 15th December I flew back to London in time for Christmas festivities in the UK. Having had a truly incredible time in California I’m already plotting ways to return in the not too distant future… But for now I’m going to leave it out on some good vibes with this tribute to the departed Heavy D:
THANK YOU FOR READING!! Much Love xx