Saturday felt like the ’60s: The Sonics, the Sloths rock the Echoplex

The Sonics at the Echoplex (Photo by Guillermo Prieto)
The Sonics at the Echoplex (Photo by Guillermo Prieto)

Story and photos by Guillermo Prieto

Seattle garage-rock progenitors the Sonics released their first single in 1964, and by the time they went their separate ways in 1968, the country was embroiled in social and political turmoil.

On a Saturday night nearly a half-century later, the Sonics, with three of the five original members, convened in Echo Park, not far from the site earlier in the day of a massive political protest. And the residual energy from Women’s March LA was palpable.

The Sonics started an hour before midnight. Tenor saxophonist Rob Lind felt happy exclaiming, “It’s good to be back in L.A. — this is the Sonics.” “This Is the Sonics,” of course, was the title of the album the band released in 2015, their first album since 1996. Their set Saturday included “Sugar RE,” which got fans shimmying and shaking.

Lind asked halfway through the set, “Are there any bikers in here?” before they kicked into 2015’s “Bad Betty,” following it with the classic “Louie, Louie.” Lind explained in a tongue-in-cheek manner, “We have a relationship with the Kinks going back to the ’60s — that’s what the old guys tell me,” introducing a fine version of the “Hard Way,” written by Ray Davies in 1967. But the fan fave was the “Witch,” which showed the younglings at the Echoplex that the Sonics still have it after all these years.

Earlier, the Sloths rekindled their 1960s Sunset Strip heyday with a superb performance. Iggy Pop-ish Tommy McLoughlin* was a treat to hear and watch as he used the whole stage during their set. Announcing their first single “Makin’ Love’,” McLoughlin affirmed the meaning of the song by saying “This song is about the best thing two people can do.” He relied on a wooden chest of props that would make Felix the Cat proud. The audience became fully engaged when he hauled out a bag full of sex dolls and threw them into the audience.

To kick the night off, zombie punk band Death Hymn Number 9 heated things up when un-dead lead singer Paule Wog said, “It’s the Twenties!” with a heckler in the audience responding, “With Donald Trump in office!” Introducing the song “Guerilla Mask,” Wog proclaimed, “Fuck misogyny — it’s a woman’s world.”

* — An earlier version of this post incorrectly identified the Sloths’ lead singer.