Jeff Vincent

Dirty Hippie Radio: A Custom ride with Cab 20

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Jason Almanza, Eric Contreras, and Bert Hoover of Cab 20 during a live performance at KXLU 88.9 FM Los Angeles. The band is performing at South Bay Customs in El Segundo on Saturday, Mar. 31. Photo by Jeff Friebourg

If the South Bay music scene lacks in anything, it’s a selection of venues beyond the boxy paradigm of the bar-club circuit, joined hand in hand by a sparsity in all age shows. Patrons and bands alike go wanting for that cool warehouse venue or art gallery scene, where common respect and a good time supersede excessive rules and stuffy conduct. With the help of Dirty Hippie Radio and South Bay Customs, local band Cab 20 has procured just that.

“There’s no local scene here for a place to play that’s not a bar, so we wanted to put a cool South Bay show on,” says Bert Hoover, guitarist of Cab 20.

Hoover phoned me, posing the great question if I knew any interesting places to play in the South Bay that’s not a bar or club. Cab has gladly played the local bars (which 2/3 of the band aren’t old enough to drink in), the clubs, the sought after Saint Rocke… but like so many shows they’ve played in Los Angeles, they were looking for that different venue here at home suitable for a rock n’ roll band. The first thing out of my mouth was one of the South Bay’s best kept secrets: South Bay Customs.

South Bay Customs is a custom American motorcycle shop located in El Segundo. The warehouse/lodge style atmosphere is profusely adorned with an intricate art gallery which surrounds a stage. The owner Michael Schreiber opens his doors to local bands.

“We checked it out, and it was super rad,” says Hoover. The result? Dirty Hippie Radio Presents: Live at South Bay Customs with Cab 20, Temporal Love, and Hang Dog Expression on Saturday, Mar. 31.

It so happens that the establishment is also only about a 5 minute walk from this El Segundo-based rock n’ roll band. Cab 20 is: Hoover (guitar, vocals, lyricsmith), Jason Almanza (bass, backup vocals), Eric Contreras (drums, percussion). Nineteen year old Contreras resides in Fullerton, while the others are El Segundo locals. Almanza was El Segundo High School class of 2003, and Hoover was 2011.

Inspired by an array of acts like Queens of The Stone Age, Faces, Black Rebel Motorcycle Club, Rolling Stones, T. Rex, The Willows, Kyuss, The Greenhornes, Sleep, and Fu Manchu, this local rock band boasts a raw punchiness in its otherwise difficult to describe sound. They’re heavy, but not enough to be hard rock. They’re indie, but not enough to be boring and flat. They wander, but not enough to be completely psychedelic. And they’re not sloppy enough to be garage. It’s really just good rock and roll.

“We always get put into categories that we don’t fit in,” admits Hoover. “I always tell people it’s rock n’ roll… I like to think that we sound like my two favorite bands: Queens of The Stone Age and BRMC.”

“That’s really what we sound like, honestly,” adds Almanza.

“And who wouldn’t want to sound like their two favorite bands?” continues Hoover. “Because if you’re not enjoying what you’re playing, what’s the point?”

Many draw comparisons to early Kings of Leon and Black Keys, as well as The White Stripes; Hoover does acknowledge Jack White as an influence. Cab finds freedom through their overlapping genres to play with a broad spectrum of different bands.

Almanza says, “We can play with like a surf band one night, come on after them and keep the pace… the next night we’ll play with a jammy psych band and we just play in that pocket for the whole night.”

“I guess we’re like silly putty,” adds Hoover.

Ultimately, Cab maintains their own distinctive sound; one in which Hoover claims will leave a taste in your mouth with its musical fist.

So far these guys have cut a self-released debut LP titled “Dirty Smiles,” a follow-up self-released EP called “Cactus,” and are currently finishing up a new full-length with producer and Manhattan Beach resident Krish Sharma (who also produced a recent Rolling Stones album, as well as the “Exile on Main Street” rerelease), which will be pressed and put out by Mock Records of Echo Park in late spring/early summer. They also have a split single due out soon with the psychedelic band Mr. Elevator & the Brain Hotel.

Cab 20 performs this Saturday, Mar. 31 at South Bay Customs in El Segundo (located at 115 Penn St.) with Hermosa Beach blues-rock band Temporal Love, and opening support from El Segundo folk band Hang Dog Expression. The show is free and all ages. Doors open at 7 p.m., music at 8. For more info visit www.southbaycustoms.net. Official after party at Gasser Lounge. Cab 20 is also performing at the House Of Blues in Hollywood on Apr. 27, and the Mock Records launch party at The Smell in downtown Los Angeles on May 26. You can listen to Cab 20, Temporal Love, Hang Dog Expression, and Mr. Elevator & the Brain Hotel on www.DirtyHippieRadio.com.