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I know people are automatically skeptical when they hear anything referred to as “the next big thing,” and music journalist are always looking for something exciting to write about, so we will often find grand proclamations that this band is the “next big thing” or this music scene is the “next Seattle”. Most fans after hearing this a few dozen times begin to ignore it and it losses it’s power of persuasion. So that makes my task today that much harder because I am going to be talking about a dynamic music scene that just may be the next big thing and the next Seattle. 

I will try to spare you the hyperbole and get right to the heart of the matter and spell out exactly why the music scene in Long Beach, California is deserving of attention and putting all the hype and proclamations aside, it just might be the next major center for launching bands into the big time.  Over the past couple of years we have looked at a few of the bands on the Long Beach music scene here at iconoFAN, the most notable were twelvehourmary and Bird3. 

Twelvehourmary is still going strong and further on their path to stardom. Bird3 however is but a memory. It saddens me to think that I will no longer be able to see this amazing band’s live performances again. I consider myself fortunate that I was able to see them many times and fans across North America also had the opportunity to witness their high-energy show during two national tours in 2001 including treks with Veruca Salt and The Cult, Stabbing Westward and Monster Magnet. Though Bird3 was short lived they left behind one great album and lots of great memories. But with the demise of Bird3, two new bands emerged, one of which we will be covering here today. 

Over the past couple of years I have stood on the sidelines of the Long Beach music scene drinking it all in, so to speak. With each new band I discover from the scene, my faith deepens that there is indeed something major going on in the large port city on the southern most edge of Los Angeles County. And unlike other “big music scenes” of the the past that had a follow the leader atmosphere, Long Beach offers up music that covers a wide cross section of rock. Where as Seattle was defined by the “grunge” sound, there is no one set sound that unifies Long Beach musicians. The unity comes in other forms, mainly from the bands working closely together to achieve their dream of stardom instead of getting into the petty jealousy that eats away at other music scenes like a cancer.  Each band in Long Beach does there own thing musically and have something unique to offer but the most important thing is the fact that they do it together. That unity has brought together a musical collective that has been unparalleled in recent history. The music is always focused on quality over hype. 

What follows is first the introduction we used to describe the Long Beach scene in our profile of twelvehourmary last year. There is no use rewriting it, since those few paragraphs gave so many readers an insight into the Long Beach music scene. That is followed by profiles and reviews of several prominent bands and artists from Long Beach and surrounding areas that have made an impression on me over the past couple years. There is not enough room to cover all of the exceptional talent that is found in the Long Beach music scene in one article, that is why this is the first in series of articles on the Long Beach scene where we will profile the most promising bands and tell you why they have what it takes to hit the big time. In this first installment, I will be covering a few of the bands with a Long Beach connection that I have seen perform live within the past couple of months. In future installments we will look at other prominent and promising bands that are helping to put Long Beach on the musical map. So with all of that out of the way, let’s take a closer look at what may really be the next Seattle! 


Long Beach: 
The Next Seattle? 


(from the unsigned heroes profile of twelvehourmary.) 

There is a lot of talk on Rocknworld.com and the rest of the iconoFAN network among the readers about the need for a new Nirvana and the hope that such a band will appear soon and shakeup what has become a rather complacent commercial music scene. One thing that most people forget however is that Nirvana wasn’t created in a vacuum, they sprang forth from a vibrant music scene where bands practiced in the same rehearsal studio, played the same clubs and were constantly looking to each other for inspiration to come up with something better and unique. Nirvana, Alice in Chains, Soundgarden, Pearl Jam are but some of the bands that burst forth from Seattle after “Smells Like Teen Spirit” started a musical revolution that knocked popular music on its ass. This didn’t happen overnight, the bands on the Seattle scene worked for years perfecting their craft, playing to enthusiastic local audiences and building up an arsenal of music to take into the battle for stardom. 

Through the history of rock there has been many such scenes. Seattle’s grunge music in the early 90’s, Hollywood’s brand of sleaze turned glam in the 80’s, Detroit's Motown sound, San Francisco’s “West Coast Sound” in the late 60’s and the “Swinging London” scene in the mid sixties that varied between pop and blues band that gave us many of the groups we now call “Legends”. What locale will be next to spring up out of nowhere and change the face of popular music? That is almost impossible to predict, however there is a music scene going on in Long Beach, California that is a strong contender. 

One industry veteran recently joked that he would like to put up a fence around Long Beach and sign all the bands to his independent label. Why? Because, unlike most music scenes where we find a dozen or so bands basically mimicking what is popular on the charts and MTV, Long Beach hosts an eclectic group of bands that dare to do their own thing and create the best music they possibly can. There may be a healthy dose of competition between the bands but you can’t see it when looking from the outside. What you see is a burgeoning music scene where the bands willingly coexist, often help each other out in the studio and on stage, and most importantly encourage one another. 


Where the Music is: 
The Space

Several years ago a group of musicians got together and converted an industrial warehouse into what amounts to a nightclub-esque rehearsal and showcase facility that they have dubbed “The Space”.  The ground floor sports two stages where the bands can perform. Even the smaller of the two stages is larger than most music clubs offer and the main stage is comparable to a medium sized cozy theater. There is also a smaller acoustic stage for a real coffee shop feel. It’s all very professional with a nice PA, lighting rig and even a projector which plays videos and DVD’s on a full movie screen which descends from the ceiling when they want to watch something in movie theatre style. 

Over the past couple of years I have been on hand for several showcases at The Space and that experience only strengthened my conviction that the Long Beach music scene is one of the most thriving Mecca’s for music that I will ever see in my lifetime.  The way “The Space” showcases are set up is that every band that participates gets an abridged 20 to 30 minute set. With three or four alternating stages you can easily walk from one stage after a band completes their set to the next stage right in time to catch the next band perform. They pull it off with a precision that puts professional music festivals like Ozzfest to shame. During any given showcase or private party you can watch up to 20 bands perform. That’s a lot of music for one night but with Long Beach bands, you really have to search hard to find two bands that sound alike, I’ve tried in vain and still fail to do so.  So let’s take a look at some of these bands. 


Twelvehourmary

Twelvehourmary was the second Long Beach band I was introduced to and from that first show they sold me on their promise. A personal measure I use when listening to a band is who they remind me of. After seeing twelvehourmary perform dozens of times and listening to a preview of most of the songs from their forthcoming CD, I still can’t come up with another band to compare them to.  It’s impossible to accurately describe the twelvehourmary sound; their brand of cerebral modern rock really sets them apart and there simply isn’t another band that sounds like them. Ask twenty different people what band twelvehourmary sounds like and you will get twenty different answers.

Lead by frontman Brett Bixby, twelvehourmary like most bands on the Long Beach scene are content to make music they love, not what seems the most commercially viable or a springboard to stardom. Their artistic independence shines through in their music with intricate arrangements, thought provoking lyrics and quite simply exceptional music. Let the reader remember that any band can come out and produce copies of what is popular at the moment and find a small measure of success but it is the bands that strike out on their own and try something new that CREATE new shifts in popular music. So it may be difficult to find a band to compare twelvehourmary to but you can bet if things work out like they should and this band becomes widely popular, within no time we will begin hearing new bands that sound like them. 

Continue for more on twelvehourmary, Wonderlove, Lowfive, Sara Overall and find out where to get more info on these bands....

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