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Lobster Fest! Indie bands and crustaceans invade San Pedro

September 18, 2009 |  1:10 pm

THE_HENRY_CLAY_MUSIC_6 Patrons mill about in bright red hats with skyward-pointing lobster claws. Fingers retain the smell of butter and arthropod juice. Grown men wear pirate shirts and eyeliner, and the musical lineup features everything from a midget KISS cover band to some of the most buzzworthy East Side hipster bands. If the Lobster Fest is wrong, we don’t want to be right.

Set on San Pedro’s open, breezy harbor, the annual Port of Los Angeles Lobster Festival runs tonight through Sunday and claims to serve the largest amount of lobster anywhere on the planet. This year, the fest is gunning for a world record, with Guinness on site for the official weigh-in. A lobster lover by the name of Jim Hall created the festival in 1999, and this year he brought on Mark Sovel (a.k.a. Mr. Shovel, Indie 103.1’s former music director) to curate the lineup.

Tonight’s lineup features glam rocker Dilana, the Binges and Spider Problem, and Saturday’s roster is a who’s who of L.A. indie bands, such as Oliver Future, Dios, Love Grenades, the Henry Clay People and the keytar-wielding Dazzler. On Sunday, Gram Rabbit, the Happy Hallows and Dave Wakeling and the English Beat wrap up the festivities.

We chatted with Sovel about bands, crustaceans and what he’s been up to since Indie’s broadcast demise in January.

How long have you been working with the Lobster Fest?

This is my first year booking Lobster Fest.  In years past, Jim booked a lot of local bands he heard on "Check One Two" on Indie 103.1, but unfortunately he wasn't able to do that this year so he asked me to be involved directly.

How do you convince bands to play a lobster festival?

Easy. "Free lobster and beer! Are you in?"  Actually a lot of bands asked us to play.  It's a really fun event and it's very beautiful at the port. I always love doing shows in unusual settings. And I love being able to help bands get paying gigs.

Have most of these bands heard of it or been in past years?

Dave Wakeling has played Lobster Fest in the past and enjoyed it so much he decided to bring the English Beat this year. Los Straightjackets are returning as well. For the locals, the Henry Clay People, Oliver Future, the Binges, and Rocket are Lobster Fest vets. This will be the first time for the Happy Hollows, Love Grenades, Dios, Dazzler and Gram Rabbit. Oh! And we just added Spider Problem.

Where else are you booking live music?

I curated the Hammer Museum series again this past July, which has been a great love of mine. I am also curating the music portion of the Tarfest Music, Film and Arts Festival. That’s going to be at the El Rey on Sept. 26th with the Deadly Syndrome, Eskimohunter and Polyamorous Affair. Each band will make a special presentation to incorporate film and art into their shows. Sterling Andrews from Goosberries is doing a special [backdrop] for the Deadly Syndrome set.

What's your current role with the online Indie 103?

My role at Indie ended when it went off the air. I have not been involved with the online effort.

Do you eat lobster?

I may grant a special pardon to my lobster.

-- Alie Ward

The Port of Los Angeles Lobster Festival runs today through Sunday at Ports O' Call Village, 77 Berth, San Pedro. Admission is $9, lobster meals $17.

Photo: The Henry Clay People. Credit: Simon Cardoza