Ron DeSantis at the Abortion Access Benefit Show

By Sarrah WolfeJanuary 27, 2024

Ron DeSantis at the Abortion Access Benefit Show


Last Saturday night, Highland Park’s Lodge Room hosted an underground industrial rave for Ground Control Touring’s Abortion Access Benefit Series. A collaboration with Noise for Now, a nonprofit that connects artists with reproductive rights organizations, the sold-out event hosted a slew of musical acts and DJs, many of them Desert Daze alumni. To pack 20 different acts into a seven-hour event, sets were capped at 30 minutes with many running for as few as 10, punctuated by a smattering of cervical jokes from comedian Ellen Harrold. For a minimum donation of $1, attendees could project their name or a message onto the upper right-hand corner of the stage’s backdrop. Ron DeSantis donated his remaining campaign money ($20), and Nancy Reagan made a generous donation of $2. One anonymous tipper left not their name but the cryptic note “Simon explored Garfunkel.”

Ceremony’s Anthony Anzaldo opened the show with a half-hearted stripped-down set on his pink electric guitar, followed by 10 minutes of thrashing and clashing by nu-metal shoegaze punks Cold Gawd. Austin Getz of Turnover then soothed the crowd with his tender lyricism and acoustic twang. The small crowd that had arrived early struggled to find their footing in the vacillating energies of the opening acts. But as audience members and donations trickled in, the music became more cohesive. Choir Boy foreshadowed the darker turn that would come with a setlist somewhere between Joy Division and the Cure, followed by a moving three-song set from Blondshell, a ’90s-PJ-Harvey–esque act.

Bouncing between the main venue and the adjacent Checker Hall, I realized that two of the acts I was hoping to see, Kate Bollinger and Shannon Lay, were no longer on the lineup. Had the two folk singers appeared, they might have helped make sense of Tim Heidecker’s billing—and perhaps drawn a better crowd for the comedian-turned-songwriter’s own folky sound. But I must still applaud Heidecker for getting a crowd of goths and punks to join him in a sing-along of the lyrics “Why am I like this?” while wearing a dadcore outfit of a crewneck sweater, straight-legged blue jeans, and standard-issue three-stripe Adidas. 

Of course, no party in Los Angeles is complete without an appearance by Reggie Watts. After providing backing falsetto during one of Heidecker’s songs, Watts delivered one of his storied comedy-infused musical improv sets, stoking laughter while speaking eloquently in support of abortion access: “I don’t want your lies deciding my fate / We’re all autonomous sovereign beings.”

With spirits heightened by Watts, the night plunged further into all things freakish and peculiar with acts like Patriarchy, whose Nine Inch Nails–influenced sound was overshadowed by their vampiric personas. Two acts later, the brother duo Faux Real, clad in eyeletted white straps, parted the audience to make room for their riveting choreography, complete with kicks and spins and a leap from the bar at the back of the room. By then, the audience was surging and ready for more, which came as Sextile, Black Marble, and Panther Modern took the stage to close out the night. A red-and-blue haze filled the hall as spotlights began to strobe and wraparound sunglasses went on, while the three final acts delivered DJ sets of bleak and gritty sounds that left me dreaming of the UK underground and wondering, “How did I get here?”


Photo of Faux Real performing onstage by contributor.

LARB Short Take live event reviews are published in partnership with the nonprofit Online Journalism Project and the Independent Review Crew.

LARB Contributor

Sarrah Wolfe is a California native who’s just figuring it out as she goes. She holds a BA in film and is pursuing an MA in English literature at California State University, Long Beach. She is currently co-executive editor of her graduate program’s journal, Watermark.


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