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“Love Oakland: A Benefit for Those Affected by the Ghost Ship Fire" | Essential Listening


by Dan Goldin (@post_trash_)

Last year on December 2nd, 2016 there was a tragic fire at Oakland DIY venue Ghost Ship which resulted in the death of 36 people. It was an incident that could have happened anywhere, but for the families and loved ones of those involved, it's a day they will never escape. In the wake of the incident, the Oakland Family Fund was started as a way to give help to those in need and assist  DIY/warehouse spaces by providing resources and funds as needed to keep them operational. Doing their part to help, Loose Grip Records released Love Oakland: A Benefit for Those Affected by the Ghost Ship Fire with all funds being directed toward the Oakland Family Fund. It's been a year since the tragedy, but there's a continuing need to raise money.

The compilation itself is a mix of well known bands and some of the Bay Area's best up-and-comers, each track adds a different element of the area's DIY landscape. Love Oakland features more than a few Post-Trash favorites, Damaged Bug, Nopes, Saba Lou, Planet B (members of Retox, Yeah Yeah Yeahs, The Locust, etc), Naked Lights (Castle Face), and Scraper among them. From the blistering noise rock of Nopes, the abrasive post-punk of Naked Lights, and the fuzzy skate punk of Scraper, the three bands offer a type of catharsis in their reckless shredding and aggression. Damaged Bug, the solo project of Oh Sees mastermind John Dwyer, offers a sinewy slice of noise pop and post-punk squalor on the claustrophobic groover "Anchorite Showdown". The song's lyrics deal with carrying on in the face of tragedy, a tough but important sentiment. Planet B flip the punk spirit into a electronic pop and hardcore hybrid, a song with a pulse entranced in dance beats and processed synths. Justin Pearson's vocals are as agitated and pointed as ever, creating a juxtaposition both harsh and hypnotic.

There's more than one way to grieve and process tragedy though, and the compilation isn't all aggressive. The back half of the record is the calm after the storm, led by Saba Lou's gorgeous bedroom pop rendition of Juanita Rogers' "Love Letter Full of Promises" and the twangy folk pop of New Faultlines. Tony Molina offers an acoustic instrumental and King Khan stays funky even with "The Mourning Song". There's relief in community and Love Oakland is a great example of bringing community together when its needed the most.