JONATHAN GOMEZ / STEPHEN VAN DYCK
As Echo Park residents we’ve observed the effects of gentrification and displacement. Perform Chinatown plays a role in it, bringing mostly white people into a low-income neighborhood of Asian and Latino families. We wanted to bring attention to this in a non-confrontational, pleasurable way. We wanted to blast cumbia beats across Chinatown, and to reflect on the facets of daily life in a diverse gentrifying area, to highlight the ways white hipster artist yuppies and LA Latino families co-exist, and to appreciate the cumbia sonidera experience: Sonideros are Mexican and Mexican-American DJs who play cumbia music and techy sound effects while talking ceaselessly over it to shout out names of audience members and relay messages from audience members to loved ones both near and far.
At Perform Chinatown at 4:30 PM on the stage at the north end of Chung King Road, Stephen stood in front with a mic, wearing faggy grey Walgreens leggings and sparkly teal sunglasses with dark lenses. Jonathan, at the laptop and mixer on stage, wore headphones and a print t-shirt of an Alex Grey painting depicting a meditating body with chakras and energy center lightning. Stephen sang in a genuine, confessional tone, in English, and Jonathan was the sonidero DJ using smooth fade-ins and outs to casually, merrily, frequently interrupt the cumbia music, giving shoutouts in Spanish to the audience, famous artists, local realtors, LA landmarks, Blum & Poe, Bernie Sanders, Wal-Mart, bike lanes, taco trucks, etc. We played our four songs twice. “Maybe You’ll Like My Dog” appropriates the music and sentiment of a mid-tempo 90s cumbia song about forbidden love. It’s about someone walking their dog who encounters people who don’t speak their language. “Maybe you don’t like me / I can’t understand you / Maybe you will like my dog / He’s a labradoodle.” “Uber Driver” combines dark synthy cumbia with soaring reverby vocals: “Let me spend infinity in your Infiniti / Uber driver, don’t take me home.” “Yummy.com” uses the words published on the Yummy.com storefront in Silver Lake: “chicken, eggs, love, yummy yummy yummy, dot com.” Finally, a parody of “Run Away” by Eurodance group Real McCoy: “Run away, run away, run away from Echo Park, run away, run away, run away if you want to make art. It’s time to break free, oh oh ay oh, you better move out, oh oh ay oh.”