Curt Doughty and Jim Strong are two strangers that came together to do something neither of them had any experience doing: promoting a three-day fest celebrating music, ‘60s culture, and a lifestyle called “mod.”
What is a mod? The mod movement started in England as a subculture characterized by stylish dress, the riding of scooters, and a liking for soul and power pop music. Bands like The Who, Small Faces, and The Creation got their kick start to stardom playing to mods that identified themselves in the powerful, anxiety music.
Though there were mods here in the US during the ‘60s, the culture didn’t really hit in places like Los Angeles until the late ‘70s, then spilling into its peak in the mid ‘80s with inspiring revivalists like The Jam carving out a major presence worldwide.
Doughty – a mod since his teens – had long held the idea of putting together a show with mod bands. “I started thinking that there has to be a place for this type of show,” Doughty explained. “L.A. has mod/soul nights at a few spots around the city, but these are just DJs spinning records. I hadn’t heard of any mod live band shows.” Taking on all this work alone didn’t seem possible, so Doughty reached out to Jim Strong via Instagram. They really only knew of each other through social media; they had mutual friends and Doughty noticed Strong identified as a mod. “We didn’t know each other at all. It’s great how the love of the mod culture brought us together to this,” Strong told us.
Mods Mayhem was inspired by a 1979 mod concert in London called Mods Mayday. The show led to the release of a live album of the same name and it was all the rage in the mod scene.
In the United States, if you were lucky enough to grab an import copy from Rhino Records or your local record slinger, you were the envy of all your mod pals. The album features mod royalty Secret Affair and Anthony Meynell’s Squire, along with other excellent late-‘70s mod bands.
MODS MAYDAY ’79 DISGOG
Inspired by Mods Mayday, the promoters conceived an event for the US. The original idea was to do the show in May, but being new to the promoting process, they found out that sometimes it’s tough to find a club willing to work with newbies in the music business. It can be even tougher to get a bunch of bands that haven’t played in a while together for a certain day. “Scheduling with the clubs and bands can be tasking,” explained Doughty. “However, we were able to pull it together for a June spot. Not the month we wanted, but were still happy it’s gonna happen.”
June 3-5, 2022
Los Angeles, California
“One of the highlights of booking this show was getting a yes from the headliner of our first night,” relayed Strong. “I couldn’t believe it when Curt reached out to British mod icons The Chords, and they were almost immediately on board to do the show.”
The Chords UK will headline night one of the festival at L.A.’s Zebulon with their hits “Now It’s Gone,” “Something’s Missing,” “Maybe Tomorrow,” and “The British Way of Life.” They will be joined by Manual Scan and The Tigerellas, a supergroup made up of members of the garage band, The Pandoras.
Strong, who is also a fan of ska music, was also happy to enlist L.A. ska/soul legends The Untouchables who will headline the second night of music, also at Zebulon. The Untouchables are the “OG” mod ska soul boys.
They will be playing their hits like “I Spy for the FBI,” “Wild Child,” “Free Yourself,” and “Agent Double O Soul.” The SoCal band will be joined by The Question and The Odd Numbers for night two.
Though this festival is about music and getting people together who are like-minded mods, Doughty and Strong want people to know that everyone is welcome. “You don’t have to be a mod!” Doughty said eagerly. “I hope that some of the younger generation will come and see what this scene has to offer and I promise, you will be welcome here.”
The final day of Mods Mayhem will include a scooter ride that will end up at the L.A. club The Redwood. Mods love scooters, but not just any scooter; it must be a vintage Vespa or Lambretta, classic not plastic. Make sure to bring your sweetest scoot to represent as there will be prizes and awards provided for categories including Best in Show and Who Rode the Furthest, and many more.
The scooter rally will be followed by a vintage and record swap meet, the prizes and awards from the scooter show and rally, plus various vendors. (BTW if you are a record or vintage vendor and want to participate in this incredible event, there are still spots available, so contact Mods Mayhem for more info!)
There will also be a discussion panel with the topic “The State of Mod Today: Tribalism and Youth Subculture in the Era of Social Media.” Doughty says topics will include What does it mean to be a mod today?; Are there more than just the few hundred middle-aged mods who were around during the heyday?; Has the younger crowd latched on to this mod label?; And, do labels even matter to younger people anymore? This talk will be moderated by seminal-‘80s mod magazine Wh-a-a-am! editor and writer Liz Pepin.
The panel will be followed by a showcase by Outro Records with up-and-coming mod and garage bands on their roster including The Premonitions, Violet Mindfield, The Sweet Nuthins, and The Wyld Gooms.
Tickets are on sale now, including a limited edition package with tickets to all days of the festival entertainment, of entertainment, commemorative festival lanyard, 12” vinyl EP, and collectible pin. Individual tickets for the first two nights of the festival are on sale now at zebulon.la. Tickets for night three will be available at the door of the Redwood Bar & Grill.
Come out and join the culture, the fun, and of course the exciting music from the UK in the great state of sunny California.
We are the mods, we are the mods, we are, we are, we are the mods!