By Luis De La Torre and Tyler Kwon
The backyard concert, or “show” scene, has been very strong in the San Fernando Valley since the dawn of rock music. During the 1950’s, housing development in the Valley and the simultaneous growth of rock helped foster the stardom of old school musicians like Ritchie Valens, who was born and raised in Pacoima.
Today, much has changed; however, the independent, visceral spirit that has defined the Valley scene for decades remains. Every weekend, in places as near as Sylmar, Chatsworth, and even Granada Hills, drums, guitar riffs, and shouts sound off into the night sky in front of diverse, dancing crowds. Hand-drawn posters abound on social media, which is now the primary advertisement for upcoming shows.
“The feeling of being at a show is liberating. Being around others your age, enjoying our
adolescence, and getting to have an outlet through music is great,” senior Victoria Munoz, who attends the shows regularly, said.
As soon as you go in, the shows are packed with people from all over the valley. You can find teenagers all the way from Chatsworth who find their way to the houses of these shows sometimes in the heart of Panorama. Young adults will go far and wide when they see these posters all over their social media feed.
“I often find myself running into friends I haven’t seen in awhile which gives me the opportunity to catch up,” Granada Hills Charter High School (GHC) alumni and bassist for the Cozzmos Jesus Mendoza said.
Some bands come from other areas as well to perform at these shows like the Inland Empire and Echo Park. Some other bands that commonly perform at Valley shows are Sad Park, The Red Pears, The Voxes, Manray, the Megaladons, and Good Boy, just to name a few.
“Every band has their own conception of songs everyone is creative,” Jesus Mendoza said.
The Cozzmos and Mexican Slum Rats both consist of members who have attended GHC, and have since become popular staples of the backyard show scene. Their high energy and amazing music that keeps attendees rocking through the night is essential to their rising popularity.
The Valley is an amazing place because you have people of completely different cultures coming together to create music. “I think a perfect example is the ska scene because to have a ska band you have to have a trumpet player, and for example maybe your uncle was in a mariachi here and taught you how to play,” former GHC student and drummer for Mexican Slum Rats Ben Schlesinger said.
Backyard shows offer a good space for teenagers to socialize and bond with one another, telling stories and getting to know each other’s values. It is also a perfect opportunity for creative minds to network, which leads to even bigger projects.
This is what has happened in the past few years as the scene has extended out of backyards and into larger venues. However, some believe that the growing popularity of backyard shows has been a double-edged sword as it has become less of a personal experience. At more recent shows people are sometimes just standing around to post hey are there on social media and not really paying attention to the bands.
There has also been a rise in prices to enter since they cost more money to put together at a bigger venue. The fact of the matter is that if the shows cost less, more people will attend. Those hosting the performers need to do more to warrant the prices for entry.
“I’ve heard people complain that they don’t want to go to a show because it is 8 bucks and I only have 5 to spend on food and that really saddens me, because I feel like a lot of these people that put on shows just do it for money when it should be more about expressing and showcasing talent in the valley,” senior and lead guitarist of the Mexican Slum Rats Kevin Villaba said.
Along with leading to larger shows, backyard shows can help bands promote their online music online as well.