Archive for Grind

Grindcrusher…I mean, Gangbanger Tour

Posted in music, photography with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , on June 17, 2008 by Kevin Estrada

Napalm Death
April 20, 1991
Grincrusher Tour
Country Club : Reseda, Ca

I didn’t plan on this, but yesterday’s post on Godflesh and The Grindcrusher Tour had to be THE most popular post thus far. I was asked by a number of loyal readers to talk a bit more about the set by co-headliner’s Napalm Death that evening. I guess many of you have heard the rumors…so here is the truth. And away we go…

For some reason, besides all the “Death Metal Latinos,” Napalm Death seemed to attract a handful of the most violent gangs in Los Angeles. It made sense to me when the Venice gangs would show up at the D.R.I. gigs…but Napalm Death? They are from Birmingham, England…what does England have to do with the gangs in L.A.? I still have not figured that one out.

Anyways, as the openers burned through their sets, the gang-bangers would walk around in a slo-mo, kind of crazed style…almost like an animal as it stalks its prey. As Napalm’s set got closer, you could feel the tension in the room rise, and the crazed looks of the gang-bangers got crazier and crazier. Just before Napalm Death hit the stage, a few dozen more gangsters entered the venue. I have no idea how or where they came from, but the room was filled with blue and red bandanas and gangster-plaid shirts.

As soon as Napalm’s fury began, so did the gang’s. Violent and bloody fights were breaking out everywhere. My roommate was in the balcony watching the fights from above – he couldn’t believe his eyes. There was nothing that the club security could do – the violence was way to extreme and it was in every corner of the room. They had no choice but to frantically call the police, otherwise it was not just gang members who were going to get hurt.

Just before the police stormed the venue, a huge pile-up broke out on the floor – right in the middle of the mosh-pits. Yes, unbelievably, the mosh pits continued, even during the gang violence – amazing! Almost in unison, all the gangsters jumped off of the pile and stood in a circle. The circle quickly opened and out came a slow, stumbling man. He was shirtless and dripping wet with sweat. People began pointing fingers at the man and jaws began to drop. Then I saw it. The man’s stomach was sliced wide open – the only thing holding his belly together was his hand. His innards began to poke out of the gaping, bloody wound – he shoved them back in with his left hand. I had never seen anything like it. Then, to make things even more unbelievable, he started jumping up and down and then he started running around the club and “high-fiveing” people with his right hand as he held his guts in with his left hand. Perhaps he was smoking some of that Angel Dust that was going around that night.

The bloodied man ran straight out one of the emergency exit doors that lead to the outside parking lot. Dozens of people followed right behind him. As soon as Napalm finished their set a song or two later, I ran out the same door to see what was going on (yes, I kept snapping photos until they were done). I saw a crowd of people fighting to get past the police. Cops were everywhere, police helicopters, everything. I fought my way through the crowd and got up to the front. I was distracted because I saw my good friend Melissa freaking out, screaming at the cops. I couldn’t figure out why she was so upset – she didn’t know this gang-banger. Then I saw what was upsetting her. The police had her car taped off with yellow “do not cross” tape. And there he was, dead – sprawled out on the hood of Melissa’s Mazda RX7.

I am not sure what you heard, but I know most of you Grindcore fans heard something about this amazing show. This is what happened – straight from an eyewitness. That show had to be THE craziest show I have ever attended. Little did I know that in just a few minutes, I too, would be bloody and sliced up – for that story read yesterday’s post, Grindcrusher…I mean, Grindcutter Tour.

Photographed at the casting call for the movie Colors with my Canon F1 and a cheap, no name 28mm-80mm f5.6 lens. Shot on Kodak Ektachrome film.

Grindcrusher…I mean, Grindcutter Tour

Posted in music, photography with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , on June 16, 2008 by Kevin Estrada

Godflesh
April 20, 1991
Grindcrusher Tour
Country Club : Reseda, Ca

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(This photo and many others now available for sale.  Email: IamKevin@fairwarning.com)

At this point in my life I was heavily involved in three music genres – the underground L.A. Rock scene – in which Jane’s Addiction was leading the pack; the early stages of what came to be known as Grunge – I was seeing bands such as Soundgarden and Mother Love Bone and of course Nirvana; and my new love at the time – Grindcore. Grindcore was a new movement in metal spearheaded by hostile bands such as Napalm Death, Terrorizer, Bolt Thrower and Godlflesh.

At the time, I was still struggling to establish myself as a rock photographer, trying my best to have my images and my name printed in as many publications as possible. There was a lot of anticipation for this L.A. area show as it approached. I don’t know where they come from, but there would be masses and masses of death metal Latinos that would come to these shows – I’m talking hundreds of them. The violence inside and outside the venue started even before any of the bands hit the stage as three of the most notorious gangs in Los Angeles were in attendance. And to make things worse, they were all rivals. If that was not enough, add handfuls of concert-goers high on PCP / Angel Dust. I’m not kidding, this show was out of control.

As each band played their sets and the night progressed, so did the level of violence. I began to notice that there were less and less photographers as the night went on. Just before Co-Headliner Napalm Death hit the stage, there was just me and the photographer from the Los Angeles Times left in the barricade. As soon as Napalm came out, a horde of kids rushed the stage…the stage was filled with dozens and dozens of crazy, violent kids, you could barely see the band – and they were using us as stepping blocks to get on the stage.

At one point, during Napalm’s first song, the L.A. Times photographer started freaking out, totally panicking. He started grabbing me and pulling on me. Then he started screaming that we needed get out of there. The venue was way out of control and he feared for his life – and mine. He must have thought I was nuts, because I was getting off on the chaos, my adrenaline was so high, I did not want it to end. I looked at him with a crazed smile and screamed back at him that I wasn’t going anywhere. He grabbed his gear and ran…I never saw him again.

By the time Godflesh hit the stage, I was the only photographer left. I was either the bravest photographer that night, or the stupidest. I am sure it was a fine line between the two. My passion for the music just took over, and I was in it ‘til the end. I noticed that the PCP usage really kicked in during the Godflesh set. There were people freaking out, hallucinating and hurting people right behind me.

As I was snapping Godflesh, I began to feel a cold, tingling sensation on my back. Every once in a while, I would need to scratch or rub my back as the sensation grew more and more frequent. A few songs later, I again rubbed my back, this time I noticed that the top of my hand was smeared with blood. I had no idea what was going on. Was it my blood? Was it someone else’s blood?

Then I saw it. One of the kids, out of his mind on Angel Dust, had an exacto knife and had been slicing my back. The back of my shirt was in strips and I had about eleven bloody slices on my back. I started screaming at the kid and I knocked the exacto knife out of his hand with my camera. Just then, one of the other PCP freaks started biting the kid’s cheek. He then ripped a handful of hair out of his head and pounded him in the face until he was in a bloody daze. The whole scene was surreal to me…it was almost like Godflesh was playing the most amazing soundtrack music to the most out of control, violent, drug induced movie that I had ever seen. But this was not a movie, it was real, and it was exploding right in front of my face. Godflesh finished their set at about 2am and I was still standing, camera in hand. I went home, feeling like I had been run over by a bus, but I knew I got some killer photos.

The next morning, my telephone woke me up. It was the publicist at Earache/Relativity Records – Godflesh’s record label. It turns out that the Los Angeles Times heard how out of control the show was and they wanted to do a story on the show and on the Grindcore movement – but they had no photos because their photographer bailed. I was the only guy with the photos that they needed. I tried my best to negotiate with the L.A. Times – I got a whopping $60 – I was lucky to get paid at all. Nevertheless, my photo and my name made it onto a full page in the Sunday Calendar Section – the biggest entertainment section that the L.A. Times runs. It was a huge success for my career and me. I might not have been paid very much, but this photo and this story gave me street cred that you just can’t buy. Talk about having to pay your dues.

Photographed under the blade with my lethal Canon F1 and a cheap, no name 28mm-80mm f5.6 lens. Shot on Kodak Ektachrome film.

Murderfest

Posted in music with tags , , , , , on April 23, 2008 by Kevin Estrada

Spent Sunday night on stage with The Godfathers Of Grindcore, Napalm Death. Here are a couple of shots from the mayhem that took place at The Knitting Factory on the final night of their tour. The amazing thing about these guys is how humble and down to earth they are offstage.

kevin estrada~

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