Art and music collide with Liphemra, The Buttertones, and Walter at Non Plus Ultra.
Pictorial Display by Julien Kelly
Nestled on a derelict street in Echo Park, Los Angeles, behind an indistinguishable apartment building lays Non Plus Ultra, a bunker/warehouse and more notably local D.I.Y. venue. Shows here are somewhat rare, although evermore increasing as the venue gains traction. Above it lies the Sunday gallery, an apartment turned open art space that tonight catered to the zine release of L.A. bedroom goth-pop producer Liphemra.
In Sunday’s main foyer, under the pink fluorescent light, an exhibition called ‘Screwball’ by Kyle Leeser was on display. Although unrelated to the show, the exhibition was actually quite spectacular – featuring Basquiat-like doodles on canvas, arranged around the gallery as if they were telling a story in of themselves. Down the hall in a quaint little bedroom a pop up gallery had been set up, featuring the Liphemra zine front and center. They also had t-shirts with the words “DID U CRY” on them, mirroring the front page of their self-made zine. The zine itself was beautiful, co-released by burger and lollipop records, and featuring striking photography and text overlay. Everything in the bedroom was for sale, including: pins, lighters, prints, clothing and a bunch of other bits and pieces that keep the gallery alive.
Next was down a tight staircase into an even tighter side alley that led around the side of the apartment block to an even more dense and dark communal smoking area. DJ collective Honey Power was in charge of the mezzanine level, spinning vinyl before and after the main attractions. Downstairs Walter aka “the greatest band ever” was setting up as the first band of the night. I mentally prepared myself for the subtly sweet fuzz that was about to ensue, and ducked under the mezzanine for a beer. This is where the secret hot pocket of the venue really is, with couches overseeing the stage, a very clean bar, a bathroom, and a merch table filled with even more Liphemra and Buttertones merch.
Walter began their musical onslaught. Something about the trio and their music is almost demonic on stage, but instead of a more biblical devil, I imagined something more like Homer Simpson with a pitchfork, almost a caricature of the devil himself. It was good, really good, and kinda sexy, in a ticklish goosebump kind of way. A definite highlight was the newly released single, “Ice Cream”, which had the crowd crawling all over each other – If you haven’t seen the music video for this song you’re missing out, and live it’s something else.
Next, headliner Liphemra blew down the house. Producer Liv Marsico aka Liphemra managed to transfer her dark electro-pop from the bedroom to the stage, with the help of a bass player, guitarist and drummer. Liv herself even played a separate pair of drums for a couple songs, all the while singing in that dreamy ethereal voice that practically is Liphemra. They seemed pretty excited that this was their night, as both upstairs and down, people were swarming to catch the set. Although their set was in stark contrast to Walter’s, they pulled off every song without a hitch, owning the stage with a sense of purpose that makes me very curious to see what they’re going to be up to in the near future.
The Buttertones closed out the night with a tight set. The combination of throwback rock n’ roll with new school punk attitude puts these guys on a pedestal — because they do it exceptionally well. The trippy acid wash background that had been looping around the whole night made their set all the more dreamy, forcing the crowd to pulse with beat. The addition of a saxophonist center stage made their sound all the juicier, but as they played through most of their debut album things started to get a little repetitive. If it wasn’t for the suave guitar sounds and smooth bass lines, they might have left me a little lost.
The night was running late as usual, but luckily there were only three bands so everybody shuffled out at a reasonable hour. It turned out to be an eclectic night, with both music differing from act to act and art upstairs differing from room to room. Takeaway: you can find some really weird shit in an apartment building in Echo Park, and more than likely have a great time too.