By DONNA BALANCIA
NORTH HOLLYWOOD – The Hyaena Gallery celebrated its 10-year anniversary but it wasn’t with any vow renewal or cake and coffee. The event was more like an early Halloween party with great music.
The art gallery in Burbank, known for its eclectic and spooky collection of art, had an off-the-wall celebration at California Institute of Abnormalarts. You know, the home of the dead clown, and Carl, the storytelling master of ceremonies who greets you with that low voice, top hat, and ghoulish laugh.
This party brought all sorts of cool artists, featuring musical talent including The Slow Poisoner, The Hellflowers, and Michael Aston’s Gene Loves Jezebel. All somehow in keeping with the hauntingly artistic theme.
Bill Shafer, who owns Hyaena Gallery, said he was happy with the great turnout and he appreciates the supporters his gallery has attracted over the years. He made no bones about the type of artwork he curates and that the taste leans to the slightly other-worldly in nature. The gallery has steadily gained its share of fans over the 10 years on Olive Ave. in Burbank.
The music mirrored with the theme, particularly opening act the Slow Poisoner, AKA Andrew Goldfarb, whose tunes range from tales about swamp witches to hot rod worms. But what makes Poisoner’s act gel is the show-and-tell aspect of his gimmickery: He scrolls through some cool art on a makeshift “TV” that takes the audience to another place and time. Most frequently in a setting with scary creatures.
Poisoner’s work is charming and fun. There is also an audience participation segment, where he hands out swords to have a minute of battle. He wears a giant mushroom on his head and for the finale, he sets himself inside a cardboard, light-up monster head.
The Hellflowers weren’t a surprise as they have a new album out there and we knew what to expect. What was unexpected was the personality of this band, how the players work together as a group live and also how each stands out for his or her own personality. Drummer Katherine Wing has some chops as a serious musician with a wayward Betty Boop eye that catches you and lets you know who’s the boss.
Matt Eskew the bassist keeps the swagger flowing and throws down some serious basslines keeping it all moving in the right direction. Lead singer and guitarist Christina Lopez is more than a cute front gal; she can really sing and has a good range in somewhat similar tone to Debra Harry. It’s a pleasure to hear this voice.
Maybe the most interesting story here is Pete Grosso whose lead guitar is so blindingly fast and resonant that it left the audience collectively agape, wondering from where the dynamic sound came into the picture. Grosso’s mellow exterior belies the fancy fingerwork he’s got that takes a lead guitarist from good to truly great. And hats off to this serviceman!
The evening capped off with Michael Aston’s Gene Loves Jezebel, complete with longtime collaborator Michael Ciravolo, who plays a wicked lead guitar for a “suit.” The skirt-sporting Ciravolo is the president of Schecter Guitar Research by day. Gene Loves Jezebel sent the regular fans into a frenzy with their familiar tunes; the band has had many changes since the late 1970s, but the quality of their music stays the same. And there’s nothing scary about that.