‘Emo night’ in Hollywood: Hey Mercedes rocks The Roxy
I’ve posted lots about my dear friend, former roommate and Invisible City recording studio partner, Michael Shumaker.
READ: Mike Shumaker’s Hey Mercedes homecoming at the Agora
Well, twenty years ago [I’m posting this retrospectively in 2022] I got to see him be a rock star in his band with ex-Braid bros, Hey Mercedes. In (West) Hollywood no less. In front of a bunch of screaming fans—mostly young ladies—just six weeks after we said our goodbyes back in Cleveland. Cool!
Here’s the contemporaneous entry from my L.A. concert diary:
Seems I saw Hey Mercedes twice that first week of December 2002, both times with Avail and The Curse. First was at The Glass House in Pomona, which was enjoying a lot of prominence as an Emo-friendly venue at that time—arguably the peak years for the trend.
I don’t remember anything at all about driving to Pomona on a weekday night. But then I’ve already established that back when I was new to SoCal, I did not think twice about driving 50 or 100 or 500 miles to see a great band. Especially if the band included a close friend like Mike.
Case in point: My first concert at 924 Gilman
When Hey Mercedes finally made it to Los Angeles proper, Solea was the added opener. I don’t remember anything about any of the support bands to be totally honest. All I remember was the audience, which I stupidly did not take any photos of.
As with any trend at its peak, the Emo crowd at this time was a lot of fun. Their faction had ‘won’ the music game (for the time being). There was a lot of joy amongst the pierced-lippped, mascaraed, sleeve-tattooed, spiky-haired masses.
Emo had arrived.
I feel like Hey Mercedes was a little more rooted in rock ‘n roll of the past (esp. Noise Rock) and, being from Milwaukee, was inherently a lot more meat-and-potatoes than the run-of-the-mill band of the genre.
Mike was certainly on fire, delivering his trademark guitar lines—honed in his Cleveland bands Primitive and Sheilbound (as well as our band The Divine Invasion)—that alternated between noise, melody and pure rock.
Mike and the band sounded so good coming through the Roxy’s PA!
It was a relief seeing a friend. It had been a turbulent, humbling first month in Los Angeles where I had worked a whole bunch of part-time, crappy jobs to survive and establish myself.
20 years ago I became an Angeleno; Cobra Verde welcomed me—& Falling James got me a job!
I was doing a lot of stuff, meeting wonderful people. I’m not sure I was having a ton of fun though. I just felt really unsettled.
READ: Young People, Get Hustle, Mummers at Anthony & Dan’s loft, November 2002
But things were changing. I remember Mike was one of the first people I broke the news to: I had finally found what felt like a permanent position. I had just been hired at Hustler. I was Larry Flynt’s newest assistant and associate editor. What!?
Look at the crazy revenge I’ve taken on my late mentor Larry Flynt
Anyhow, looking back, it was pretty miraculous that both of—kids from the Rust Belt—had come so far so fast. Despite the horrible George W. Bush / illegal Iraq War situation that was reaching a fever pitch in the background, in the early Oughties it really did feel like anything was possible.
We’d soon find out…
Read more Mike Shumaker-related posts:
Never can say goodbye: Yet another star-studded Invisible City farewell
Maraca mania: Sheilbound quartet line-up at the Lime Spider, 2002
DC’s Black Eyes & rare Sheilbound quartet lineup at Mohawk Place, Buffalo 2002
NOT the “Jim Clevo Stage”! The Divine Invasion at Speak In Tongues
1996 was the best SXSW ever: exclusive video, photos & more
Classic scene photos! U.S. Rocker’s Rock Explosion ’96 at Peabody’s DownUnder
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