Last Friday, bands from the early-80s, psychedelic folk-rock revival movement in L.A. known as the “Paisley Underground” came together for a reunion concert. The short-lived scene—equally indebted to the east coast’s noiser side of ’60s psych as to the west coast’s janglier sounds— produced crafty revisionists (the Three O’Clock, the Long Ryders, the Plimsouls), inventive and influential punk/psych blenders (the Dream Syndicate, True West, Green On Red), and one huge hitmaker in the Bangles. While the scene moniker was almost comedically used by the bands themselves back in the day, it’s been somewhat forgotten, but most of the musicians from it are still active today in one form or another.
Since a number of them no doubt have kids by now, this reunion party was a benefit for Education Through Music, an organization that aims to raise funds for struggling—and more and more frequently, disappearing—public school music departments. The lineup included The Bangles, the Three O’Clock (whose frontman, Michael Quercio, coined the phrase “Paisley Underground”), the Dream Syndicate and Rain Parade.
The evening was MCed by actress Kate Flannery (best known as Meredith on The Office), who had the pleasure of bringing out legendary Los Angeles radio DJ, Rodney Bingenheimer, to introduce the Bangles, who kicked off their set with Hazy Shade Of Winter. The ladies looked youthful in their shorts over nylons combo, as Vicki Peterson instantly whipped her hair to the beat of sister Debbi Peterson’s drums. Although the band started with that hit 1987 single, the rest of their set was mostly early songs from when the Paisley Underground was at its height (and the band had just had to ditch their original name, the Bangs). Some were disappointed when they didn’t do “Walk LIke an Egyptian,” but that mood moved on during the encore when all the bands of the evening returned to the stage along with Bingenheimer and Flannery to jam out the evening on the Byrds’ “Feel A Whole Lot Better,” which was essentially the template tune for that whole scene. A great nostalgic night for a great cause.
Photos and words by Annie Lesser.