Thursday, March 25, 2010

Review of the Echo

Here's a review I just posted to Google for the Echo, Los Angeles, CA, titled "The acoustics ruined my chance to see a band I love (2 stars out of 5)‎"

Right now, sitting at my desk with my decent computer speakers, I'm listening to the debut album from Cymbals Eat Guitars with an empty feeling at the incredible experience of which I was robbed. My wife and I went to the Echo last night to see Cymbals Eat Guitars and were sorely disappointed with the sound. The system was simply way too loud for the room (like, conservatively, 12+ dB, often exceeding the pain threshold in something like a 4000 sq. foot space with nowhere to run) and the bass was boosted so far that everything above it was masked, which precluded earplugs from being a viable option. It was so bad it could have been a joke, albeit a terrible ear damaging joke.

I give the place two stars instead of one to entertain the possibility that just maybe these weren't the regular sound guys and it's not always like this. It's a real shame. Everything else about the place is good: the size and decor are cozy, the bar was generously stocked (though we didn't drink last night), the crowd was cool except for the usual couple of outliers, and the bands that come through are really great.

Fix the sound!! I'd consider reporting these guys to OSHA with purely artistic motivations.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Concert Tonight

During our time so far in LA we've been getting more and more into the local scene, finding the best spots to hang out and seeing shows whenever possible. Tonight is no exception; we're going to the Echo to see two great bands: Cymbals Eat Guitars and Freelance Whales (check out some truly great videos of Freelance Whales playing live for NPR here).

The area, Echo Park/Silver Lake, also has some of the best bars and vegan food in LA so it can be tough to choose a dinner spot, but we're almost always drawn to Good Microbrew when we're in the area midweek because every Wednesday night they have Mystery Beer Night, where you get one of about 12 great microbrews in a plain plastic cup for $3 with a code on the bottom, revealing which beer on the list you were served. Woo hoo!

Monday, March 22, 2010

More Biking!

I followed up the 43 mile ride with another 5 mile ride with Kimberly to go to dinner and back. Yesterday we rode 31.5 miles around the Westside and South Bay, bringing the grand total for the weekend to around 80 miles. I feel surprisingly good, considering. It can be hard to concentrate on Monday mornings after these crazy weekend adventures.

Our Sunday bike ride started after church. We planned to drive to Santa Monica and start biking there, but there was so much traffic from the LA Marathon, that we finally gave up and parked near Sepulveda, about 5 miles from the Santa Monica pier. It was actually nice to get to bike through parts of LA and Santa Monica that we wouldn't have otherwise, and it was a beautiful day as usual, so no complaints.

We stopped at West 4th / Jane for lunch and then made our way through the crazy crowds down to the bike path along the beach. We biked through Santa Monica and Venice, around Marina del Rey, and down to Manhattan Beach. We had dinner at the Manhattan Beach Brewing Co., which, despite the name, isn't a brewery. They did have a huge collection of beers on tap for good prices and some amazing nachos.

After dinner we tried to rest on the beach, but it was already too chilly to hang out for long. We made our way back up the bike path, back to Sepulveda, and back to our car, tired from a long day of biking around. With only about a mile to go, Kimberly wiped out on a bush and scratched herself up a bit, but she laughed it off and we finished up the trip.

We celebrated (and Kimberly recuperated) with some unbelievably delicious vegan mint carob chip ice cream from Rice Dream.

Here's our path (click for detail):

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Long Saturday Bike Ride

I decided to go on a long bike ride this morning, and it turned out to be the longest and most challenging ride I've done yet.

Here's the route (click for higher res):

It was challenging but not as hard as I thought it might be. The advantage of rolling hills, as opposed to long climbs, which I've done a few times now, is that though the elevation gain might be equivalent in the end, there's always a goal in sight and a rest for your legs. I was a big fan and I'll be back to these hills ASAP.

There's a long bike route through the southern part of the valley that I took advantage of, after which I followed Ventura Blvd. to the end and kept going on roads that paralleled the 101, up and down hills till I got to Chesebro Rd. I followed that up into Cheeseboro Canyon park.

There's a route out of the park that eventually meets up with Las Virgenes Canyon Rd., which gets back to the valley at the very end of Victory Blvd. From there I pretty much retraced my steps back through the valley all the way home.

It was such a nice day. The beauty of southern California never ceases to amaze me or fill me with a sense of adventure and longing for more. I was also surprised, as I've been many times here, at the volume of people found even in fairly remote areas. It's encouraging to see others enjoying this day and these hills as much as I did.