The show planned for Saturday, April 29th, was supposed to be a banger. All the teens and young adults of the valley were prepping their tightly laced shoes and punk blazers for the boiling mosh pits that were bound to take place considering acts from bands like Sad Park, Clit Kat, Beach Bums, and Pity Party.
For whatever reason, there aren’t many good DIY shows happening in the valley. If you really want to be in with the LA underground punk music scene, you’ll be taking the red line to downtown LA every weekend. But this show was supposed to be the exception.
Van Nuys? I’m there. Lucifurnace? Count me in. That’s what we were all saying on Friday during lunch. We even picked up a bunch of stuff from Goodwill to bump our self-esteem for the event that would rival any prom. But to our great disappointment, it was shut down.
It wasn’t a traditional DIY show. The flyer on Instagram announced that it was to begin at 3pm and end at 10pm. Typically, shows start at 7:30 or 8 and go until midnight. But Bad Wizard, the collective that organized the whole thing, decided to do things a little differently, staying true to the spirit of the San Fernando Valley. There were seven bands on the lineup, and instead of having them play back to back, they had 20-minute intermissions between each act. This was a cool idea because it created a more festival-like vibe, and allowed people to leave and come back. Also, food was supposed to be sold which excited everybody.
So what happened? How could this brilliant work of art be shut down so quickly?
Well my friends, it’s becoming apparent that Bad Wizard’s fatal flaw was that they advertised the event as a “Trap House” on Instagram. It seems the flyers were causing so much excitement online that the police found out about the show and assumed that “Trap House” guarantees buckets full of fire, guns, and crack cocaine (which cops love). But really, Bad Wizard just added “Trap House” in a scary font because it looked cool. Doesn’t it?
So the mighty spoon of valley punk noise never even got a chance to stir the inevitable pot to a whirlpool because cops raided the house before the first band went on. They were disappointed to find a few beers and respectful kids who like music. But instead of admitting their mistake, they stuck to Plan A, and desperately arrested people- one for not being a certified security guard, and another because she was the oldest person there. The cops even tried to fine the kids who put the show together, claiming they were concerned about safety. But Herbert Guevara from Bad Wizard tells me that “after a meeting with the DA and investigators they didn’t see it as a big deal as we were just trying to throw a show.”
Is this a story of justice? Or the oppression of young artists just trying to bring something beautiful into the world? What is a cop? And what can be said about the impact the Internet now has on our lives? Is Instagram becoming a boon to the already embattled DIY music in Los Angeles? After all, it was an Instagram post that allegedly got Non-Plus Ultra shut down right at the pinnacle for any self respecting, contemporary DIY venue- a gig by Thee Oh Sees.
So are these post-Ghost Ship raids and closures really about the public safety of underage music fans or is this just more of the same- protecting the interests of wealthy liquor license owners who had to pay through the nose to provide entertainment as a cover story to make a killing at the bar? Because, let’s face it- Los Angeles NEVER needed an excuse to shut down these bastions of free thought and expression before the fire and now it seems the long arm of the law is willing to reach all the way into the heart of the Valley to crush independent ventures and thought, wherever it may lie.
Words: Olivia Debonis