Two local musicians redeemed their tickets for a journey to the past with their ode to High Voltage Arcade.
Last year, Jason Ford Turner, the mastermind behind the fantastic local act All Yours, along with producer and keyboardist Schuyler David Johnson put together an ode to the former video game arcade in northeast Bakersfield that held a special place in both their hearts.
"Schuy (Schuyler) showed me this picture of him as a kid at the East Hills Mall's High Voltage Arcade," Turner said. "We were immediately transported and we just bonded over it. It was almost an assignment that he gave me, write a song, a story, that revolved around this place."
"It was more than some place we went to, it was a magic place, full of possibilities."
Named for the defunct game palace, the song is a synthwave throwback to the mid-1980s and its video, written and directed by Keaton Punch, is wonderful and sweetly wholesome.
It tells the story of a young man, played by Turner's 10-year-old son, Ford, on a quest to win enough arcade tickets at High Voltage Arcade to purchase a Nintendo 64 from the prize counter. The six-minute video hits every nostalgia button and is instantly engrossing while also feeling like it's both of and not of certain eras. Imagine the vibe of "Stranger Things," but without the monsters.
The good guy gets tested, a villain is established, allies are made and the final challenge ensues. Who will win? The bully or the diligent hero? Well, I won't spoil it but in this 1980s/1990s/2000s air hockey version of Gryffindor vs. Slytherin, there's still a sense of honor between the two combatants. If only some adults acted as noble.
"That's kind of the code of the arcade: You just kind of look after each other," Turner said. "This is where kids learn how to treat each other, where they have to learn from right or wrong, too. We still have a lot to learn from kids."
Cameos by local musicians abound (Luis Velez! Matthew Prewitt! Seth McConnell!), but none so much as the outside of Pizzaville doubling as the arcade's exterior — with an animated High Voltage Arcade sign superimposed over the Pizzaville sign — and the Camelot Park arcade for its interiors. Both the song and video deserve greater attention.
"We wanted to emphasize how important it was to make this a total grassroots-level project," Turner said. "That's why we had all local collaborators, musicians, locations and family involved."
"We wanted to remember that space where we went in our community and invite anyone who sees the video into our local world."
‘Violent’ times for Adema
Less than a year since the release of its single "Ready to Die," our globally outsourced but locally based hard rock quintet Adema has released its latest, "Violent Principles."
This is the second release with new singer Ryan Shuck, and the band seems to be embracing its inner Depeche Mode. The song is dark, melodic, moody and propulsive, expertly produced by Shuck's Julien-K bandmate Amir Derakh, and lyrically deals with the fallout of dealing with a destructive, narcissistic relationship.
The video for the song follows the same template Adema used with the video for "Ready to Die," both directed by The ANIX (Brandon Smith) and Oscar Gutiérez: The band performing energetically in a single warehouse location. Both videos ably represent the intensity of the band and "Violent Principles" even has drummer Kris Kohls playing standing up on a neat little drum kit.
What the band has done with both "Violent Principles" and "Ready to Die" (my pick for 2021 song of the year) is in solidly establishing the band's evolved identity. Shuck isn't merely standing in for the group's previous vocalists, who each gave the band distinct sonic identities of their own; he's changed Adema's musical DNA without losing its inherent core. This is a whole new band enthusiastically and confidently embracing its new, earned stability and bold power.
There's a scene in the 2004 movie "The Incredibles" where a 10-year-old superfast superhero named Dash is being chased through a jungle by a bunch of dangerous bad guys. He fights and runs away from them, realizing that he's headed directly to a large body of water at the edge of the jungle.
He shuts his eyes in terror and keeps running — only to be surprised to find out that he can run so fast that he's running on water.
With an emboldened laugh, he takes off even faster and eventually prevails, enthusiastically and effectively exploring the possibilities of his own potential. That's Adema.
As of now, there is no set release date for its upcoming full-length album titled "360 Degrees of Separation." It will embark on a national tour this summer with (hed)p.e., Crazy Town and Flaw.
Bakersfield Local Launch, 6 p.m. Friday, 1933 Event Center, 7900 Downing Ave., B; $10 presale, $12 at the door; livemusiccity.com
What makes the inaugural Bakersfield Local Launch happening at 1933 Event Center so intriguing is in its variety of styles and genres and how it's carving out its own exposure in an enthusiastic, very punk rock do-it-yourself manner.
The event will represent local rap (the excellent Riddy K, who will close the event, and Static) local indie rock (the grungy Culture Machine and Beware the Sleeping Giant), and local acoustic singer/songwriters (Ariel Dyer, whom I once described as writing music for "disillusioned Disney princesses" but is so much more, will kick off the event).
Hardcore skate punk act Rabid Assault had to drop out of the lineup and will be replaced by N$F (Non-Sufficient Funds) who plays cover songs "ranging from Johnny Cash to Nirvana." It's six acts performing under a brisk four hours for a very frugal $10 ($12 on the day of).
This 18-and-over event is a case where each act is its own headliner. Here's to hoping it's successful enough to take hold and continue.