LOS ANGELES, CA- Nestled in the pulsating heart of the music scene, Penniback Records and Mass are carving out a position to be the torchbearers of rock’s raw and unadulterated ethos. Known for their eclectic mix of garage rock, punk, and psych-infused melodies, they appear to stand as bastions of an era where rock music is not just heard but felt. Their commitment to the underground scene and the elevation of its acts to the limelight is a testament to their dedication to the craft.

The anticipation hanging in the air at the Teragram Ballroom was palpable as I stood amidst a sea of fellow rock enthusiasts. The lineup was a smorgasbord of rock styles, a promise of an auditory feast that had both the familiar comfort of bands I’ve seen before and the tantalizing mystery of new acts. This was an event that promised to span the vast landscape of rock, from its glittering peaks to its gritty underbelly.

Frankie & The Studs at Teragram Ballroom 2/4/24. Photo by Derrick K. Lee, Esq. (@DKLPHOTOS) for www.BlurredCulture.com.
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Frankie and the Studs is a Los Angeles-based rock band fronted by Frankie Clarke, who brings an intrinsic rock pedigree and a dynamic punk rock edge to the table. Frankie’s rock roots are intrinsic as her father, Gilby Clarke, is an established guitarist, not to forget he also played for Guns N’ Roses.

Frankie and the Studs seem to be carving out a nice little niche in the punk rock scene. Their sound is often described as a blend of punk and rock with a pop sensibility. This was my first time seeing them perform, but I was really digging the balance between catchy melodies and in-your-face rock n’ roll energy.

Frankie and the Studs took the stage with a presence that belied their relatively recent arrival on the rock scene. Their music, a fresh take on glam rock with a modern twist, was both a homage and a challenge to the genre. Their sound was a blend of razor-sharp guitar riffs and anthemic choruses, a call back to the days of glitter and leather, but with a contemporary edge that spoke to today’s generation. As a group, you get the sense that they are embracing influences from the ’70s punk and glam rock scenes while also incorporating contemporary punk influences into their sound.

Urns & Argyles at Teragram Ballroom 2/4/24. Photo by Derrick K. Lee, Esq. (@DKLPHOTOS) for www.BlurredCulture.com.
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Urns and Argyles emerged as the dark horses of the evening. Their performance was my first experience with their sound, a mesmerizing tapestry of alt-rock and indie that commanded attention.

Urns and Argyles is a Los Angeles-based hard rock band known for blending elements of grunge and goth rock. The group is composed of (and I could be wrong as I had to look this up on the internet… Their Spotify description is simple “big amps” … lol) Mark Spencer, Jason Funston, Nich Santana, and Violet Lewis. Their music presents a mix of fierce and gentler perspectives, and their live performances are characterized by a fiery, lowkey intensity with gloomy tones and a hint of psychedelia. Though this was my first time catching them live, what I could glean from their songs were intricate melodies and brooding lyrics.

Bonavega at Teragram Ballroom 2/4/24. Photo by Derrick K. Lee, Esq. (@DKLPHOTOS) for www.BlurredCulture.com.
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Some, like myself, recognized Bonavega from his participation in Season 15 of “America’s Got Talent”. He was a standout performer who was able to make it all the way to the quarterfinals.  Bonavega, whose real name is Brandon Wilbarger, hails from Toledo, Ohio, and his performances for AGT displayed his flamboyant personality, powerful vocals, and dynamic stage presence.

Bonavega’s performance was a riotous journey through the flamboyant side of rock. It was a true performance, incorporating equal parts bawdy campiness and hard rocking attitude. It was a spectacle of theatrics and musical prowess, a delightful blend that kept the crowd enthralled. His ability to couple showmanship with solid musical chops made for an unforgettable act that was both entertaining and musically enriching.

Speed of Light at Teragram Ballroom 2/4/24. Photo by Derrick K. Lee, Esq. (@DKLPHOTOS) for www.BlurredCulture.com.
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I’ve covered this band so many times, but I can’t help it. They just keep getting better and better each time I see them.

In case you’ve been living under a rock, Speed of Light is a sibling trio from Santa Monica, California, blending 70s punk and desert rock into their hard-hitting garage rock sound. Comprising Cameron (guitar), Tyler (drums), and Riley (vocals and bass), they’ve made a significant impact on the Southern California music scene and beyond. Their following is completely organic (they’ve amassed over 70K Instagram followers) and they hustle hard to keep their numbers strong.

Seeing Speed of Light command the stage with such ferocity is seriously a source of immense pride for me. I remember when they were performing in “barbershops”, and now they have opened for bands like Bad Religion. Their future and potential, in my humble opinion, is limitless.

Riley’s vocals keep getting stronger, and more melodic as time goes by. Don’t get it twisted, she call still scream with the best of them, but when she’s singing melodies now, her tone is about as pure and strong as they come. These young musicians, with their fingers dancing on the fretboards, and smashing up the drum kit, are a testament to the enduring spirit of rock. Their performance was not just a display of technical skill, but a passionate declaration of rock’s timeless allure.

Starcrawler at Teragram Ballroom 2/4/24. Photo by Derrick K. Lee, Esq. (@DKLPHOTOS) for www.BlurredCulture.com.
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Starcrawler’s evolution from the band I first saw at SXSW in 2017 was stark. Gone was the raw, untested energy, now replaced by a refined and polished artistry without losing an ounce of their wild heart. Their performance was a masterclass in how to grow without losing the essence of what made them special in the first place.

Their set covered their entire repertoire pulling from selections from each of their albums, a select number of covers, and even single releases. From their debut singles “Ants” and “Used To Know”, to “Train”, “I Love LA, “Chicken Woman” from their debut album, to “Lizzy”, “Hollywood Ending”, “Bet My Brains” from “Devour You” to “Roadkill”, “Stranded”, “She Said” from “She Said”, they basically played all of the fan favorites and jam packed a set of over 20 songs. A killer performance.

As the final chords resonated through the Teragram Ballroom, it was clear that the evening was not just a gig; it was a testament to rock’s tenacity and evolution. Penniback Records and Mass curated a lineup that was a microcosm of rock’s current state – raw, diverse, and utterly captivating. From Frankie and the Studs’ glittering homage to punk’s heyday, to Bona Vega’s theatrical flamboyance, and Speed of Light’s relentless energy, each act brought their unique thread to the rich tapestry of modern rock. And as Starcrawler’s polished yet wild heart closed the night, they didn’t just perform; they assured us that rock’s pulse beats as strongly as ever in the veins of a new generation. This night was more than a showcase; it was a declaration that rock’s cradle, nestled in the arms of Penniback Records and Mass, continues to rock the cradle of musical innovation, ensuring the genre’s legacy thrives and transcends into the future.

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