Plaza De La Raza Los Angeles, CA
Contact: [email protected]
Players: Karis Brizendine, vocals, guitar; Giselle Etessami vocals, bass, piano; Isaac Cruz, vocals, drums
Material: Three years ago, a playwright tandem consisting of a mother and her adult son set out to bring a theatrical production to life that combined the essence of the punk rock scene in the Bell Gardens area of Los Angeles with the storied history of “The Old Lugo House.” What started off as the brainchild of Theresa Chavez and Gabriel Garza quickly evolved into a fully developed play with music written by the director and Nina Diaz (the lead singer of Girl In A Coma). The storyline focuses on a close-knit trio of punk rockers who are living as squatters in an abandoned adobe house. They chronicle their journey by cranking out some impromptu jams on stage, like “Diddly Squat,” a rebellious post-punk anthem that practically epitomized the play’s edgy set design.
Musicianship: The music from this live performance resonated in a manner similar to legendary anti-establishment acts such as The Dead Kennedys and Richard Hell. The musicians who conveyed the original compositions were a trio of actors, Karis Brizendine, Giselle Etessami and Isaac Cruz. While Brizendine is a classically trained musician, her theatrical bandmates had very little experience as live musicians prior to being cast. Therefore, they relied heavily on three months of music lessons and rehearsals leading up to opening night on March 19th and delivered satisfactory skills.
Performance: Abode Punk was presented to the live audience at Plaza De La Raza as a self-described “theatrical zine with music” and it featured four original compositions along with a melody for the finale. The real gem of the evening was the way in which the guitarist, Brizendine, and the bassist, Etessami, harmonized with one another on punk rock songs like “No Waiting.” When Etessami sang lead during this rendition, her voice resonated like Ann Wilson from Heart.
Summary: Overall, the musician-actors captured the essence of punk with impressive musicality and subtle nuances such as feedback and distortion from the amps. At one point, the trio settled on “Bell System” as their band name, a way to honor their hometown of Bell Gardens. The group’s rendition of “Bell Underground Gardens” embodies that notion well.