I got my first job at a coffee shop in Chula Vista when I was 15 and a half. Don't ask what the place was called because I guarantee you never had coffee there unless you were a 30 something Navy guy or you were one of my high school friends who came by to sing karaoke. But it was a funny thing...my boss was a 37 year old Filipina who told me repeatedly to "dress more sexy". The funny thing is that even at 15 I might've looked older, yet all our clients were really there for my hot boss who was in her mid 30s. On weekends we had cheesy jazz bands and after we'd close, my boss' friends would come by with beer and would sing karaoke that we had linked up on a big screen TV via a lazerdisc player. Some of the time the songs were in English, and sometimes in Tagalog. Sometimes, they'd convince me to sing in Tagalog for everyone's amusement. There is a reason why I haven't sung karaoke since that job.
The one thing that always surprised me, and I'm making very broad sweeping generalizations here, it seemed like every Filipino could sing. Even people who spoke with a thick accent could sound just like Elvis.
This really has no relevance to Wednesday night at the Zombie Lounge, except that when Beta Lion took the stage, it made me wonder why Asians, and specifically Filipino-Americans, are so underrepresented in the local music community when they are the 3rd largest ethnic group in San Diego. Beta Lion is out to change that. Or maybe they're just trying to play great music, and I'm charging them with waving the pinoy flag? Either way...
The band plays at times sweet indie pop and other times soaring pop rock. Being used to so many really loud bands at the Zombie, I was impressed that everyone was loud enough to enjoy but quiet enough that all parts could be heard. When Mark's mic cut out, the equally strong vocals of Op (Opie?) on guitar or Dean on drums were there to pick up until the mic worked properly and were also there in multi part harmonies throughout the set. I really enjoyed watching this band and they were such a nice group of guys to talk to after the set. At least one of them is living in LA now, so their gigs are probably a little infrequent, but if you like to sing "oooohs" and "ahhhs" along with a sweet band, Beta Lion are definitely worth checking out. I'd like to get them on a bill with The Infants...think they'd be great together.
As I mentioned to the band, if music doesn't work out with Op, he really should get into stand up comedy. The kid had great stage banter and after was cracking everyone up. He's pictured below on the left. He's actually Vietnamese and they lovingly call him "the Veit" because of some chick referring to him as such once upon a time.
This is just a random pic of my friends, Adrian and Jamie, who came out to the show.
And my friend Fermin who I know from my former life as a collegiate athlete.
And the kids from Secret Apollo.
For anyone who doesn't regularly visit the Zombie, it's worth noting that they have various drink specials depending on the night. On Wednesdays, a domestic beer and a shot are $5 until 11pm. Bud & Jameson go down nicely when it's a bargain like that.
The Modlins were second to hit the stage and had a good crowd of people there to check them out. They played a healthy set list chock full of songs from "Here's to Being Happy" and if I could discern properly, some new stuff as well. There are some album titles that just really don't tell you anything about the music, but The Modlins are pure pop bliss that remind me of listening to Oldies stations with my parents and them talking about their collections of 45s and when a certain song would come on saying something like, "this is when songs had meaning." And I like it. Sometimes I wanna hear "the-end-is-near, we're-all-gonna-die, my-life-is-so-tragic" music. And sometimes, I wanna hear The Modlins, who remind you that it's ok to get over yourself and really escape from reality with happy, quirky, pop music.
I thought it was a strange bill...to have the Bloody Hollies close up the night for two bands who sound nothing like the Bloodies, but it had been a long time since I'd seen them, and they were fresh from their 2nd Music Award win and I was just happy to be catching great local bands just a short hop away from home. The first time I ever saw the band, they were so turned up that nothing was coherent and I was glad to see that either they turned down to match the night or that they've grown enough to know that it's quite possible to rock hard without shattering eardrums. They seem to have become tighter and "cleaner" in the sense that they let the music speak for itself. They rocked out and in turn, the crowd did, too.
It was such a good night at the Zombie, good crowd but not too crowded, good music, good sound, and great friends all around. I wish I'd had the energy to write this after the set, but with a full Thursday planned for LA, I knew I had to rest up, so sorry for the Thursday blog hiatus. I'll make it up to you.