By Samantha Sumampong, 17, Bishop Alemany HS (Mission Hills)
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As my dad and I drove to see the all-girl punk band Go Betty Go at the Troubadour, I imagined rockin’ and bopping my head to the band’s energetic music. But when I arrived at the Troubadour in January, I looked at the marquee and saw that instead of Go Betty Go, Astra Heights was scheduled to play first. I was bummed because my parents bought me tickets specifically to see Go Betty Go play. But I was still excited to see Los Abandoned and Foreign Born and to show my dad what kind of music I liked.

“Wasn’t Go Betty Go supposed to play?” I asked two girls standing behind me in line. “Yeah,” answered one of the girls. “I saw it on the Los Abandoned banner on MySpace.”

Then a guy standing behind the two girls piped in and said that opening bands have a tendency to change. My dad and I were annoyed because we drove for two traffic-filled hours from Santa Clarita to West Hollywood.

When my Dad and I went inside the Troubadour, we went upstairs to the balcony. I asked a girl what kind of music Astra Heights is. She told me they were “indie.” I then asked if Astra Heights was mellow since most indie music is pretty mellow.

“Not really, you’ll see,” she said. I went downstairs because I wanted to be closer to the stage, but my dad stayed behind. He was tired and didn’t want to move from where he was sitting.

Astra Heights were five Hispanic guys, who intrigued me with their perfect-pitch harmonies. I rarely heard bands that had such strong vocals. Most of the time I feel like singers are either screaming or whining. I was amazed by the band’s performance because they played so well together and the lead singer had such a strong stage presence. Lead singer Mark Morales passionately rocked his body back and forth as he played his guitar and sang. Also, one of the guitarists jumped down from stage and danced with some of the girls who were near the front. I was freaked out and hoped he wouldn’t get near me because I was intimidated by someone dancing close to me.  My favorite song was “The March,” a catchy song that showed off the lead singer’s talents. Some of the members of the audience and I started dancing when the song played.

Foreign Born played next. My first thought was “Do they play country?” because the members were wearing plaid shirts and the lead singer was wearing a fedora. The music instead was very mellow and reminded me of 70s rock.  I liked the rhythm and energy Foreign Born gave off. I thought Foreign Born would be another Hispanic band because of its name, but instead it was a bunch of white guys. I could barely understand their lyrics because their music was louder than their voices. I liked the musicianship, but I wasn’t impressed by the vocals because I could barely hear them.

Los Abandoned was a surprise for me. I had listened to only one song, “Van Nuys,” on the band’s MySpace. But I liked the upbeat tempo and punk sound. Lead singer Lady P wore a bright red top with silver frills in the middle, and leggings. I barely understood what she was singing since it was mix of Spanish and English. But I was in awe of her stage presence. She was jumping, dancing and singing her heart out. Fast songs such as “Van Nuys” and “Conquistarte Bien” (Conquer yourself well). I really liked because of the spunkiness and attitude she gave in the performance. Her energy reminded me of 80s icons Pat Benatar and Cyndi Lauper. The audience went crazy for her, they sang along with the lyrics, screamed out for her to perform more and danced.

After the third song, I was either bopping my head or attempting to sing the “Spanglish” lyrics. One of my favorite parts of the show was when Lady P played the ukulele, bringing flavor and playfulness to the already energetic band.

I also was psyched when Lady P motioned with her body for the audience to lay down. As the band members and Lady P fell to the ground, the audience members bent as far down as they could, too. As the band members were lying on the stage for about five minutes, the audience was quiet with anticipation. I wondered what they were doing. Lady P then crawled on her stomach to center stage and sang to the audience members. One guy who crowd surfed near Lady P, nearly hit her head when she was on her stomach.

Los Abandoned’s performance lasted around an hour and half. Even though I liked the performance, I was glad when it was over because I was tired from jumping and bobbing my head up and down to Lady P’s vocals. The audience’s energy was insane because they were swaying their bodies to the music and chanting “otra, otra” (which I thought meant “other” in Spanish, but I assumed it meant encore, too.) after certain songs the band performed. After seeing the live performance, they have become one of my favorite bands. Even thought though these bands weren’t the reason I went, I’m glad I kept an open mind because I discovered music that I never knew I would like.