It’s baaaaack. First Friday’s at The Natural History Museum returned this week for it’s first installment of the season. I’ve been wanting to go the past few years but had yet to make it to Exposition Park to check out one of the events that test the conventional wisdom that Los Angeles is devoid of culture in the mainstream. And yes, even though independent entities such as KCRW, LA Weekly and Spaceland Presents are at the helm, you could hardly call those established institutions alternative, anymore. Those institutions are still tastemakers but more geared towards well rounded, functioning adults than they are towards angsty teens lost in a drug psychosis. There is always an educational aspect to First Friday musical lineups. Not sure if the education compliments the entertainment or vice versa. This week, the Natural History Museum hosted a spotlight on science in movies with a tour led by Lisa Gonzales, Assistant Collections Manager of Entomology. The musical itinerary was highlighted by headliners, The Hood Internet, along with funk band, Boulevards and electro producer, Spazzkid. The side room DJ’s Aaron Byrd and Anthony Valadez harnessed an impressive energy amongst the Friday night crowd and definitely got the crowd moving.
The audience at First Friday’s is diverse. It’s made up of family outings, date nights, hipsters and of course, you’re normal, everyday Friday night party people. A young man who was definitely tripping on psychedelics passed me on my way into the museum with the biggest smile on his face and laughter that was emanating from the depths of his belly. He welcomed me to the show and disappeared into the shadows of the massive lawn that surrounds Exposition Park. The setting is quite incredible with the lights brought in to add a subtle illumination to the dinosaur bones that separate the two rooms hosting two distinct entertainment areas.
I walked in during the performance of funk band, Boulevards. I did not feel that filthy, bootie shakin impulse that accompanies a great funk band. That void certainly could’ve been attributed to the low energy of the spectators in the room. I crossed over to the other room that is separated by the hungry T Rex bones and rather large, snaking lines of thirsty people waiting for their libations and walked into the other room which hosted DJ Anthony Valadez. The mood in this room was a much more festive one than the main room. The line for the bar was much shorter, as well. Half the audience was dancing and Valadez’s track selections seemed to resonate very well with a room full of people that were ready to party. I got my pop lock on.
After enjoying the vibes created by Valadez for a significant amount of time, I walked out to the steps of the Natural History Museum and weighed my options amongst the multiple food trucks that were parked in front. I decided on some tacos and walked back in for headliners, The Hood Internet. The digital Chicago duo certainly pleased the crowd in their selections. Controlling and moving the room is the only job of a DJ and they did that. I’m just unsure of why what they do needs to include two people to do it. Especially when there are laptops involved. Two laptops and a couple of other components were the set of tools they had in their tool belts. Maybe I’m an asshole for bringing it up but I’ve seen one man controlling four decks and crates of vinyl; mixing and scratching and multi tasking like a motherfucker. I’m an unsure of what the criteria is these days that separates and elevates one act over another. I guess they produce their own tracks and mashups and that is CERTAINLY a creative and artistic endeavor. I just giggle a bit when I see two dudes with a couple lap tops and a room filled with people watching them on stage instead of dancing. I love beat culture. I just don’t always love the culture that consumes modern beat culture. Bah humbug. That being said, I had a great time.
First Friday’s is the perfect appetizer to a fun Friday night. It’s early start and end time are a nice window to enjoy world class talent, educational content and catch a buzz before you either call it an early night or dig in to the rest of the evening.
Words: Danny Baraz
Photos: Mitch Livingston