MUSIC In 2010, while Franki Chan contemplated the pros and cons of bringing back his much-beloved Los Angeles-based Check Yo Ponytail party concert series, he wasn’t entirely sure where it all might lead. All he knew is that he’d become detached from the rapid takeover of the DJ scene and the lackluster dance parties that were becoming the norm.
At the urging of a friend, he resurrected the popular event from a two-year hiatus, knowing there was an undercurrent of exciting electronic artists and bands just waiting to break out. Now, less than a year and a half later, Chan is excitedly discussing the first ever 10-stop, two-week, cross-country Check Yo Ponytail tour featuring Spank Rock, the Death Set, Pictureplane, Big Freedia — and DJ Franki Chan.
Chan, who also runs the IHEARTCOMIX record label, started the first version of Check Yo Ponytail in 2006 at a downtown Los Angeles club called Safari Sam’s. The shows quickly developed momentum, filling a niche that perhaps people hadn’t yet realized they’d been yearning for.
“At the time, we were one of the first parties in town to put a focus on the breaking electro scene,” Chan says. “And that attitude of mixing bands, electronic artists, and DJs was part of what made it feel different.”
Soon word spread outside of Southern California and Check Yo Ponytail began drawing high-profile acts such as Justice, The Horrors, Boys Noize, Das Racist, even Andrew W.K., whose relentless party anthems actually might best encapsulate the underlying spirit Chan strives for at his shows.
Though it tends to favor electro, rock, and hip-hop most, the characteristics of a Check Yo Ponytail show go beyond genre limitations. Chan doesn’t care what kind of music an artist or band makes as long as it’s fun and adds to the whole tight-knit, projector screen visual-fueled, dance-minded feel of the evening.
“There’s a linear feeling in these bands’ outlook that is expressed in their energy and how they perform,” he says. “We want it to feel like a very family style show and we invite all the performers to join each other onstage. We hope audiences will come and want to be there from the start to the finish. It’s run like a show, but it feels more like a party.”
Spank Rock, a.k.a Naeem Juwan, is of those performers expressing energy on the tour — fresh off the release of his long-anticipated sophomore LP, Everything Is Boring and Everyone Is a Fucking Liar. Forgoing some of the straight-up party rap and Baltimore club bangers of his debut for a decidedly more all-over-the-map approach, the album’s excellent mashing of pop, electro, hip-hop, and rock sounds like a business card for the Check Yo Ponytail “sound.”
“I just get bored with the same genres, dealing with the same sounds,” Juwan says. “I think it’s a pretty cohesive album, but the parts that might feel weird or schizophrenic about it I think are just because it’s my album,” he continues, referencing his decision to release the album on his own label and break free of his previous one producer approach.
Juwan was very familiar with Check Yo Ponytail even before Chan asked him to headline its maiden tour voyage, describing it as “one of the few parties in LA where you get to be exposed to a lot of new independent dance and rock music together.” He’s also well acquainted with New Orleans bounce rapper Big Freedia, who guest stars on his new album, and the Death Set, after befriending the Australian electronic punk group during its stint living in Baltimore. This familiarity will no doubt come across at a show that is essentially a big group of friends traveling around the country, partying, and playing music together.
“Every act has a ton of energy,” Juwan says. “So if people are packed in there, I’m expecting it to get pretty wild.”
CHECK YO PONYTAIL TOUR
With Spank Rock, The Death Set, Pictureplane, Big Freedia, and DJ Franki Chan
Fri/21, 9pm, $20
444 Jessie, SF