Mosh Pit, Jam Session, or Drum Circle? We Attempt to Figure Out FMLY Ride
STORY BY SAM BLOCH
Sam Bloch Leaving Media Park. Not pictured: riders delighting in agitating financially secure couples on date night, and said restaurant patrons asking each other if this is Critical Mass
On Saturday, over 200 bicycle enthusiasts descended upon Culver City's Media Park for the monthly FMLY Ride.
Since late 2009, show promoter Cameron Rath has taken his "do-it-together" ethos to the streets of Los Angeles, leading sprawling group bike rides from Venice to Pico Union, and stopping for bands anywhere in between. Prohibitively expensive permits be damned: these brief guerrilla shows take place wherever there's an open outlet or enough space for a portable generator, and benefit tremendously from the cover of night.
"I have a loose definition of public space," Rath says.
Rath has been throwing shows since he was a teenager. Dissatisfied with the all-ages venues on the Strip, he started organizing shows in houses and backyards near his home in Venice, before moving on to off-kilter locations like the Santa Monica Bay Women's Club, a furniture showroom in Culver City called Out of Asia, and eventually opening a art space called McWorld in Midcity. And while Rath has long been interested in using music to recontextualize Los Angeles architecture, it was a group bike ride that got him thinking about neighborhoods.
"In Los Angeles, the city is controlled by zoning. Urban decay can only happen here, certain socioeconomic classes can only live here," Rath says. "Group rides show that things can be different."
We went along for Saturday's Ride, and asked both old pros and rookies the best biking soundtrack, what they ride, and just what the fuck FMLY Ride really is:
Beth Willow Yeah, 19, Mar Vista
Spotted: Blasting George Michael's "Careless Whisper" through a megaphone in Media Park.
FMLY veteran? Truest deepest. "Lost count" of how many rides, but has been there "since the beginning."
What kind of bike are you riding? Her name is Gladys. It's a French fixed gear with blue headlights and glitter spray painted on the body. It's a piece of shit.
Favorite song to ride to: "54-46 Was My Number," Toots & the Maytals.
When you're not listening to music on your bike, the city sounds: Like a metal song during rush hour, and like Beethoven at 3 AM.
If a drum beat is a pot hole, then a wailing guitar solo is: Riding along a really bumpy, cut up road. I have bells on my bike, so they'll make a beat too.
Is a FMLY Ride a mosh pit, jam session or drum circle? Mosh pit. It's fucking mad, and you're always moving.
FIRST STOP: PROFESSOR CALCULUS, SANTA BARBARA PLAZA, INGLEWOOD
Japanther-style skate punk in a vacant shopping mall. '80s samples and thrashing guitars are punctuated by bursts of literal fireworks.
Joseph Floris, 31, San Fernando
Spotted: Checking out Professor Calculus at the abandoned Santa Barbara Plaza in Inglewood.
FMLY veteran? Casual participant.
What kind of bike are you riding? Giant NRS 1.
Favorite song to ride to: Orko Eloheim, "Outbreak."
Headphones or speakers? Speakers. I'll be bumping hip-hop, metal or dubstep out of my backpack.
Is a FMLY Ride more of a mosh pit, jam session or drum circle? Jam session, because people are playing different kinds of music while they ride.
Gia De Jesus, 24, Koreatown
Spotted: After the Professor Calculus show at the abandoned Santa Barbara Plaza in Inglewood.
FMLY veteran? Fifth ride. Also rides with Spoke-N-Thursdays and MOM Ridaz
What kind of bike are you riding? Peugeot seven-gear road bike from 1982.
Favorite song to ride to: Zoot Woman, "Woman Wonder."
Headphones or speakers? Always headphones. I like to keep the rhythm going. But I keep one off so I can catch the vibes of the city.
Is a FMLY Ride more of a mosh pit, jam session or drum circle? Drum circle. There's usually boom boxes and sound systems. This is the first time I've seen live music.