Real Scenes: Los Angeles

Resident Advisor goes beyond the sunshine and the sprawl to explore LA’s underground scene.

LA’s reputation precedes itself. Around the world, Hollywood looms large, presenting America’s second-biggest city as a land of palm trees, red carpets and celebrities. This couldn’t be further than the truth. As Mahssa Taghinia of Mount Analog puts it, LA is a “geographical memoir, there’s no truth or falsehood really, everybody’s idea of LA is very personal.” There is an escapist bent to the place, and many artists find a small patch of paradise to hole up and work on music.

Of course, that lifestyle and the so-called “Autopia,” criss-crossed by freeways inhabited by single-driver cars, can be incredibly isolating. People cling to the communities fostered by record stores, radio stations and raves. The endless expanse of the city provides warehouse space for promoters pushed underground by a 2 AM curfew. Since the early ’90s, artists from around the world have flown to LA every weekend to play back-alley spots whose locations remain unannounced until a few hours before the party starts. The word-of-mouth aspect of these events reflects a large trend in the city: so much of what LA has to offer happens behind closed doors. Our latest Real Scenes film tries to take you there, documenting a scene as thriving as it is elusive.