No one is dancing. You were warned, but it still doesn’t look right. At Sunset Temple, there’s a hip young local band, Little Deadman, and an all-ages crowd. Some 200-plus people. There are a few seating areas created with white vinyl cubes, some high bar stools, and a couple of throne-like chairs (all occupied) near the walls. Much leaning takes place. Those jammed up against the stage bob their heads. Otherwise, nobody moves.
“Don’t expect a lot of dancing,” Stacy told you an hour ago, over pork-belly tacos at El Take It Easy.
A freelance photographer who seems to know everyone in this town, Stacy often tweets photographs of the hip places she goes and the people who inhabit her world. When she invited you to an evening of music for the final night of Sezio’s Four Day Weekend festival, you were psyched. Headed to a music festival in North Park, you figured jeans and heels would be a safe choice, but then Stacy and her friend Natalie, also a photographer, showed up at El Take It Easy in jeans, hoodies, and sneakers. At one point, Stacy referred to her shirt as a “luxurious two-dollar tank top.”
The shoe of choice in this crowd is the classic Chuck Taylor low-top; the print of choice is plaid. The girls are mostly Chloë Sevigny cool, in dresses or shorts and boxy men’s blazers. On the guys, jeans and beards complete a skater-meets-lumberjack look.
“There’s a guy in overalls,” Natalie says.
“He roasts his own coffee,” Stacy says. “He has personally delivered coffee to me.”
This doesn’t surprise you. Stacy and Natalie have friends all over the place. At El Take It Easy, Natalie said she knows the guy who made the shelf behind the bar where the glasses hang. When you first walked into this venue, both women laughed at the video montage playing over the stage — their friends made it. Before the show began, they mentioned that they know the DJ and the photographer running around taking official event photos. They also know the organizers.
Up near the front of the stage, you make a friend, a 50-year-old woman named Tori. She wears a knee-length dress, dark leggings, ballet flats, and a newsboy cap. She’s here with her 13-year-old daughter, Bella, who won the tickets on 94/9 FM.
Tori tells you that if she had to choose the coolest person here, she’d pick “any of the guys from Sezio, because they’re super artistic.”
You wonder who you would’ve become if you’d had a mom like Tori. But as cool as she seems, Bella looks as if she’d rather have given the second ticket to her best friend. Bella’s wearing flats and a little dress, too. She doesn’t take her eyes off the band’s guitar player, Anthony Levas.
“He’s nice to everybody,” she says, “and he’s really cool.”
After Little Deadman’s set is over, the over-21s swarm to the bar at the back of the room, where cute girls with platinum-blond pixie cuts serve drinks in plastic cups. The under-21s sit on the floor and pull out their smartphones. Outside, the MIHO Gastrotruck is parked by the curb. A group of under-21s count their pooled money. They check out the menu to see what they can afford.
Cigarette-smokers light up a polite distance from the venue’s door.
Stacy introduces you to Sezio’s Zack Nielsen, a clean-shaven guy who, from the looks of him, could as easily work on Wall Street as run a nonprofit arts organization. He estimates that 25 percent of tonight’s crowd is under the age of 21. Many of Sezio’s interns are high-school kids, he says. Even though teens are major players in the music-buying market, there are few all-ages venues where they can hang out and listen to music. So he tries to accommodate them when he can.
A teacher from High Tech High walks up in sweats and a T-shirt. The money-counting kids in front of the gastrotruck greet him with familiarity.
Before he turns to chat with the teacher, Nielsen says he loves the people that surround him. “No one cares about being cool.”
Hannah, a 16-year-old collage-and-mixed-media artist from High Tech High, admits that she does care. She says “cool” is no accident. You just have to know how to do it right. For girls, it can go in two different directions.
“Girls can look nice and be cool,” she says, “or they can look gross and be cool.”
After a pause, she explains: “It’s a mix of looking nice enough, but grungy enough.”
Hannah wears an ornate, brocade-looking black-on-black top, jeans, and ballet flats. There is pink in her pixie cut. Long feather earrings dangle. She picked out this outfit a couple of days before the show. At the last minute, she almost changed her mind.
“I was going to freak out about it,” she says. “But then I just decided to wear what I was going to wear.”
Gaslamp: “There’s a variety of music and culture…and brown people!”
It’s Thursday in the Gaslamp, the night of the Good Foot. The entrance to the Red C Lounge descends from Fifth Avenue and spits you right onto the dance floor. You arrive at 10:30 p.m. or so, trailing along behind Omar, aka Roxrite, and Marisol. They’re greeted with hugs and handshakes from the group of guys hanging around near the booth where DJ Mane One spins.
On the other side of the 10-x-14-foot dance floor, the bar stretches back into a darkness that separates it from the front of the house. A few people seated on bar stools hunch over their drinks. A lovey-dovey couple huddles on a vinyl-covered bench that extends the full length of the wall across from the bar.
Marisol introduces you to some of the guys. Among them is Saso, short, and dapper in a T-shirt and jacket. You don’t catch the name of a taller guy with a mustache and zipped-up leather jacket, but note that he is Saso’s brother. Another guy, sporting dreadlocks and red-and-white Adidas, is Art. All wear hats, mostly newsboy caps, and a couple of snapbacks. You shout this observation into Marisol’s ear, over Chubb Rock’s “Treat ’Em Right,” and she shouts back, “A lot of B-boys start balding from head spins!”