During the month of November, Red Bull Sound Select presented an innovative music showcase in Los Angeles called #30DaysInLA. A different show or event, at a different venue, each night, for 30 nights. The shows include big names such as Juicy J, Chance the Rapper, Cut Copy, and A$AP Mob, but also present the program's rising stars such as Houston's Wrestlers and the Tontons, as well as Los Colognes, Thurz and more. Rocks Off's Marco Torres was on hand for a week of the thirty shows and captured these highlights.
First things first: what is Red Bull Sound Select? According to a poster I found hanging on the wall of the Red Bull's North American headquarters in Santa Monica, the program is defined as:
...an artist development program and music discovery platform to help break emerging artists hand-selected by the most influential curators in the industry.
That sounds really cool, but what does it have to do with Houston?
Currently 12 U.S. cities, including Austin and Dallas, officially carry the program. Houston is not yet one of them, but that doesn't mean the Bayou City is missing out. Three Houston bands and one rapper have signed onto the program: the Tontons, the Suffers, Wrestlers and Fat Tony. Houston is also hosting its first-ever official Red Bull Sound Select show on December 19 with headliner Lee Fields & the Expressions.
I arrived in Los Angeles on a warm, cloudy mid-November morning, barely escaping the cold front that was about to hit Houston. I picked up my rental car and headed for the Hollywood Hills. Red Bull had rented a massive four-story mansion at the very top of the hill, which served as the housing for the Sound Select bands during their stay. Here is the view:
Drummer Justin Martinez of the Tontons was sleeping outside near the pool, wrapped in a towel. The band had spent the last two days recording a new track inside the Red Bull Music Studios, and their nights partying at the mansion. It has been a long year for the band, who have spent most weeks on the road and performing at music festivals, including Red Bull Sound Select Stages at Hangout Fest and Voodoo Fest. A little sleep was certainly necessary.
Later that night they played alongside The Grizzled Mighty and Reignwolf at The Mint, a small bar on West Pico Blvd. Somehow, each time the Tontons play L.A., they always get booked at this charming venue.
The Tontons played their as-yet-untitled new song at the gig later that night. Lead singer Asli Omar sang about the realities of life on the road ("there's no glitter here...") as well as "breaking the path" and how "it wants to be alive." Moody, dreamy and sonically appealing, it feels like another hit for the band. I'm told that the Sound Select peeps loved it, and expect four more tracks to be ready for an upcoming release.
The next night was the show I was most excited about. I missed every single Run the Jewels show that ran through Texas earlier this year, but there's no better place than L.A. to catch EL-P and Killer Mike "burn the place to the ground." I overheard that special guests would appear during the show, so I was even more pumped than normal when choosing my spot near the front to capture all the action.
The show began with Thurz, a rapper from Inglewood with a stellar backup band that provided the jazz and funk backbone to his smooth lyrical rhymes. The OG rapper/producer DJ Quik served as his special guest, much to the crowd's pleasure.
Once Run the Jewels hit the stage, the energy made the whole room shake. Killer Mike squeezed every bit of voice he had left as EL-P showed why he's one of the best lyricists in the rap game. Special guests included Gangsta Boo, DJ Z-Trip, Travis Barker and the one and only Zach De La Rocha of Rage Against The Machine. I ought this quick photo of Mike, Travis, and A$AP Ferg after the show:
The next few days were a blur of delicious food (All you can eat Korean BBQ!), spectacular sunsets, and more excellent music. I cought Death From Above 1979 show at the new Regent Theater, covered a Latin-music showcase for our sister paper L.A. Weekly, and ended my week at The Well with the Dum Dum Girls. I was somewhat sad to miss Chance the Rapper's set at House of Blues, mostly because his special guest was Big Sean and hearing "IDFWU" live would have been perfect. (I also might have run into my future babymama, Ariana Grande.)
Story continues on the next page.
I wish they all could be
California girls Red Bull Sound Select days.
When he's not roaming around the city in search of tacos and graffiti, Marco points his camera lens towards the vibrant Houston music scene and beyond. Follow his adventures on Instagram at @MarcoFromHouston.
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