Archive for August, 2013

Foundation returns to The Republik

August 28th, 2013

The Forest For The Trees mural bike tour starting at Madsteez's mural of Clyde Drexler (Christa Wittmier)

The “Forest For The Trees” mural bike tour starting at Madsteez's mural of Clyde Drexler. (Courtesy Christa Wittmier)

Portland? It was amazing. The whole Pacific Northwest is so outdoorsy, but in a totally different way than Hawaii. So much plaid and beards, along with tons of carabiner keychains clipped on fitted jeans so nothing gets caught in bike spokes.

The most AMAZING fried peanut butter and jelly sandwich with bananas and cream cheese (Christa Wittmier)

The most AMAZING fried peanut butter and jelly sandwich with bananas and cream cheese (Courtesy Christa Wittmier)

So much art — everyone is an artist or musician there — so much fantastic food, huge bike lanes and solar panels everywhere. The weather is soggy, too, so there is so much lush greenery. Evergreen trees (or “Christmas,” as Flash Hansen called them while he was there last weekend) are everywhere.

I must have happened on at least three food cart pods while exploring murals situated throughout southeast Portland.

I ate a macaroni and cheese pie with buttery, flaky crust that melted in my mouth.

I tried a fried peanut butter and jelly sandwich with bananas.

I ate poutin.

I got to see the studio of a self-proclaimed nerd who makes vintage suitcase boomboxes and sells them under the Case of Bass brand.

I got to have dinner with Chef Gregory Gourdet of sky-high trendy restaurant Departure and tons of other people who are on top of their game and appreciate a laid back, yet artsy bar you go to for amazing life experience conversations in between shots of whiskey.

That was my trip.

Jimmy Lee and Ramyt of Foundation (Courtesy of Rich Kim)

Foundation's Jimmy Lee and Ramyt Islam. (Courtesy Rich Kim)

IT'S HARD not to compare Honolulu’s scene to other cities after traveling, and it’s a conversation I have with a lot of people. While there truly is no comparison, Honolulu is extremely unique in what works and what doesn't. And there are still a lot of us who feel like there is so much opportunity on Oahu.

While talking to Foundation's Jimmy Lee and Ramyt Islam recently about their show on Friday, Aug. 30, with Gabriel Sordo at The Republik, I discovered they shared my sentiments.

“I think we both miss the type of audience that the original NextDoor used to attract – an amalgam of people spanning all walks of life, but retaining somewhat of a refined quality,” Islam said. “It would be nice if we had a few outdoor and/or oceanfront clubs. I mean, we do live in Hawaii! Nothing touristy, just something proper.

“But beyond that, I really do feel that something is missing in our scene here. I just can’t put my finger on exactly what it is, or how one would fix that problem. I just know we're missing ‘something’ every time I come back home from visiting other cities.”

Gabriel Sordo plays Safehouse Friday (Courtesy of Jorge Lopez)

Gabriel Sordo plays Safehouse inside The Republik on Friday, Aug. 30. (Courtesy Jorge Lopez)

“I think the way (the old) W Honolulu used to be is what’s missing now,” added Lee. “I would say (the Modern Honolulu's) lobby bar on a Friday or Saturday is about as close as you can get to that. There’s a definite demand for more spots that combine a refined crowd and a good atmosphere.”

"Hawaii doesn’t have a large nightlife crowd like other cities do, so I think it discourages club owners and promoters from taking too many risks,” Lee continued. “Money always seems to have the last say.”

The focus on the bottom line is why mainstream music will usually prevail in Honolulu. The good news for Foundation and other promoters is there are still many who appreciate the music and show up at events. The last Foundation party proved this, and this weekend at Safehouse should be no different.

“What we love about Gabriel is that he plays just the right balance of house music that will satisfy an audience of people that prefer the more traditional sound as well as those who want to hear the more cutting edge stuff.” Islam said.

After Honolulu, Sordo will head to Playa Del Carmen, where he'll spin at a nightclub owned by Rob Garza of Thievery Corporation.


Christa Wittmier has chronicled Honolulu nightlife since 2004. She is senior marketing director at Young's Market Co. of Hawaii and executive director of music for POW! WOW! Hawaii, and also helps promote the popular "Bacardi Pool Party" on Oahu. Contact her via e-mail or follow her on Twitter.

POW! WOW! hits the road

August 21st, 2013

“Thank you for choosing to spend your Friday listening to us. You could have been anywhere tonight, but you are here.”

The lineup at PechaKucha Honolulu Nights (Courtesy Christa Wittmier)

The lineup at “PechaKucha Honolulu Nights.” (Courtesy Christa Wittmier)

That's what artist Richard Rayla told us at the 18th “PechaKucha” last week at the Honolulu Museum of Art. He had just presented his 20 slides in 20 seconds, sharing artwork that stretched from contemporary true abstract paintings to tongue-in-cheek ink drawings of large freighters in miniature.

The entire program was intriguing, to say the least, not only because it caters to my frustratingly short attention span but because there was so much to learn in such a short amount of time. From art to architecture to fashion to food security, I wasn’t bored, even for a minute. The event is timed so well, with a nice reception before and intermission during, plus drinks and food. There wasn’t anywhere else I wanted to be that evening.

I had gone to support Jasper Wong, Lead Director for POW! WOW! Hawaii, a colleague I haven’t been able to see much of lately since I’ve been working so much and he’s been traveling so much. While he is currently in Berlin for the Warsteiner Beer Art Collection unveiling, I will be representing our organization in Portland, Ore., for our first satellite event, “Forest for the Trees.”

While we have been able to significantly grow POW! WOW! Hawaii in terms of scale and reach over the last three years, it’s very humbling to see an individual taking the initiative to pull it together in another city. “Forest for the Trees” organizer Gage Hamilton is a well-connected Portland artist who partnered with Hellion Gallery owner Matt Wagner to bring the mural project together under the guidance of Wong and Kamea Hadar.

PechaKucha night at the Honolulu Museum of Art School (Courtesy of Christa Wittmier)

“PechaKucha” at the Honolulu Museum of Art. (Courtesy of Christa Wittmier)

This event will be reminiscent of the first POW! WOW! in Hong Kong, where a gallery is involved, but also keeping with the spirit of the event engaging the broader community in the process and creation of art.

There are nine mural locations throughout Portland and 17 artists working and living with local artists to share and celebrate their cultures. With six of the visiting artists POW! WOW! Hawaii veterans, including Hadar, there will be a fantastic union of experiences and the family will grow significantly. I’m so excited.

I remember bumping in to Aaron “Woes” Martin at last week’s “Iron DJ Challenge” at The Republik, where he told me there are more mural projects around the globe than ever before. Being involved from the beginning, I have heard so much feedback from so many different angles, but the one that I hear most is there is no other event like POW! WOW! Hawaii. What sets it apart is not only the focus on the process, but the feeling that it is one big family. The artists are not staying in Waikiki hotels; they stay together in one house, encouraging more dialogue and inspiration — which is reflected in the resulting artwork.

Murals in progress in Portland: Madsteez (LA), Gage Hamilton (PDX) and Zach Yarrington (PDX) (Courtesy Matt Wagner)

A mural in progress in Portland, Ore., by artists Madsteez (LA), Gage Hamilton (PDX) and Zach Yarrington (PDX). (Courtesy Matt Wagner)

Portland will be similar with local artists hosting the international artists. They have already begun painting and plan to end the week with a party at the White Owl Social Club.

It’s never easy for me to leave Hawaii. I’m usually homesick after a day or two. But this trip will be good for me. I’m excited to get back to the Pacific Northwest and even more excited to be doing it in support of a beautiful project like this.

Follow “Forest For The Trees” on Instagram or visit Hellion Gallery's website for updates and photos.


Christa Wittmier has chronicled Honolulu nightlife since 2004. She is senior marketing director at Young's Market Co. of Hawaii and executive director of music for POW! WOW! Hawaii, and also helps promote the popular "Bacardi Pool Party" on Oahu. Contact her via e-mail or follow her on Twitter.

The Pineapple Clan

August 14th, 2013

Farmer's Market Hawaii L-R: William Robertson, Keoni Payton, Sean Paul Wilkerson. (Image Courtesy of  @Orrinhaloa)

Farmers Market Hawaii, from left: William Robertson, Keoni Payton and Sean Paul Wilkerson. (Image Courtesy of Orrin Nakanelua)

I might be one of the last people in Honolulu to get to know Keoni Payton, but that’s the best part about our scene — it really is never-ending.

While I’ve been chipping away at my day job and seeking out the new and the fabulous at night, Payton has built his second lifestyle brand from nothing and raised it with his team to celebrate one year of business in the bustling retail district around Ala Moana Center.

Payton’s artwork is already quite familiar to me, as I see his distinctive tiki pretty much everywhere — at block parties, festivals, concerts (both EDM and reggae) and just about everywhere T-shirts or hats are allowed. His tiki has become iconic and it’s only a year old.

Kaeo and Keoni Payton (Christa Wittmier)

Kaeo Payton, left, and Keoni Payton. (Courtesy Christa Wittmier)

I stopped by his Farmers Market Hawaii's anniversary party earlier this month and was warmly welcomed by their team. You could feel the energy of their "Endless Summer Ali’i" release still present even though the massive crowd of fans that had been waiting in line for hours had already purchased their merchandise and left.

“This is when we get to rage,” musician Kekai Namauu said, draping me in the ʻahuʻula towel that was part of the pack against my will.

I cringed at the thought of wearing the bright yellow and red towel, designed to represent a feather cloak donned by Hawaiian royalty. I didn't want to disrespect the culture. I’m not Hawaiian.

“Please wear it” they said, taking a photo and offering me a drink. Their kind and genuine acceptance of me, an outsider, made a huge impact and really said a lot to me about their brand and way of life.

“This design concept was to incite and educate our rich culture and instill a deeper pride of what Hawaii’s history was about,” Payton wrote on the store’s blog. “If it can spark a conversation and it makes you feel comfortable sharing your personal mo’olelo (story) with a stranger and a friendship can come of it I have accomplished what the inspiration of this design was based on.”

The author draped in an ʻahuʻula, as depicted by Farmers Market Hawaii, and an original version on display at Bishop Museum. (Courtesy Christa Wittmier)

After I got home, I did some reading and found Hawaiians considered the feathered cloaks to have great mana (power) as the birds the feathers came from lived very high in the mountains close to the gods. Those who donned the feather cloaks were of very high status. The best of the best.

I thought about the experience all day and into the evening as I walked around Bishop Museum during the annual Bernice Pauahi Bishop Awards Dinner and found myself standing before an actual ʻahuʻula. It was the same color and design that inspired Payton — only the feathers were real. It was completely breathtaking.

While Payton pleads with supporters not to look at him as a role model, he continues to share his creativity through his words and artwork and has grown a very large and loyal following. He uses his influence to teach; his message is a positive one coming from formidable life experiences and self-reflection. His humble beginnings and dedication have kept everything in perspective. Something from nothing, as they say.

When I asked him what his biggest lesson learned this year was, he said simply, "The day dreamers are still King!"

Good to know.

Follow the amazing content the Pineapple Clan put out on their website or Instagram, and grab a towel today from their retail shop before theirstock is gone.


Christa Wittmier has chronicled Honolulu nightlife since 2004. She is senior marketing director at Young's Market Co. of Hawaii and executive director of music for POW! WOW! Hawaii, and also helps promote the popular "Bacardi Pool Party" on Oahu. Contact her via e-mail or follow her on Twitter.

Aloha Stadium takes flight

August 7th, 2013

While individual nicknames seem to stick forever, it’s extremely rare to find a crew of people still referring to themselves with a group moniker from childhood.

My first time at (the OTHER) Aloha Stadium circa 2008 (Courtesy of Christa Wittmier)

My first time at (the OTHER) Aloha Stadium, circa 2008. (Courtesy Christa Wittmier)

From what I’ve seen, it usually happens when college roommates name their house. The boys from Aloha Stadium have lived in many different houses with different combinations of roommates, but the name has held strong as the crew is bound by both their love of the ocean and for raging around Oahu.

When you pull up to Sandy Beach, you will still usually see at least one — if not all — of them playing in the shore break, and yes, that was probably them who thought it was funny to take their shirts off in the club and spin them around their heads (sorry).

They've since grown up and become working adults, but still make time to play in the ocean as much as possible.

I met their crew many years ago through a mutual friend and was taken aback the first time I was at their house. I walked inside to find all of them in the kitchen pounding shots with their shirts off.

“So we don’t mess up our nice going out shirts,” one of them explained, since I must have looked slightly terrified.

A very Aloha Stadium Christmas (Courtesy Travis Watanabe)

A very Aloha Stadium Christmas. (Courtesy Travis Watanabe)

I think they stand out more than most groups of friends because of their level of commitment to taking on the scene as a crew. You usually do not see one of them without at least three others in tow. Their collective professional experience stretches across just about every industry, so it’s not unusual to see celebrity athletes or supermodels partying alongside them.

My favorite part? They don’t take themselves too seriously. They really are a lot of fun.

Next month, five of the Aloha Stadium boys will entertain thousands of spectators during the Long Beach, Calif., stop of the annual Red Bull Flugtag.

Flugtag, which means “flight day” in German, is more of an exhibition of who can make the cutest aircraft and see how long it will stay in the air. Everything must be hand-made and human-powered; one pilot must stay in the aircraft while the rest of the team runs it down a runway. The entire machine, including pilot, cannot weigh more than 450 pounds.

Team members Erik "Beats" Beattie and Richard Chan working on their flying machine (Courtesy photo)

Aloha Stadium team members Erik "Beats" Beattie and Richard Chan work on their flying machine. (Courtesy photo)

It’s pretty much a day of watching teams plummet one after another off a 30-foot plank in to the ocean.

Since the teams are judged on creativity, showmanship and distance, the Aloha Stadium boys already set themselves apart. Growing up in the ocean and spending years perfecting their floatilla experience, it’s almost not fair for the other teams.

Their flying machine will closely resemble a traditional canoe, with two large, yet light and durable, 10-foot hulls. They have been working together on it for weeks at the current Aloha Stadium, posting regular updates for their fans.

“I’m sure we will float all the way back to Hawaii with our craft! It’s our ride home! Flights are expensive!” pilot Takeru Tanabe said.

“We want to show the crowd that we travel by ocean, not air” added team member Chris Tseu. “We grew up with a love for the ocean and a sense of adventure. That’s why we’re really close.”

But, the machine is supposed to fly?

“We had an idea in our minds to represent Hawaii and build a craft that says, 'Hey! They must be from Hawaii,” Tanabe said.

“In our minds we want this thing to fly forever,” Chan said.

A sketch of the Aloha Stadium team entry in the 2013 Red Bull Flugtag competition in Long Beach, Calif. (Courtesy Red Bull)

A sketch of the Aloha Stadium team entry in the 2013 Red Bull Flugtag competition in Long Beach, Calif. (Courtesy Red Bull)

The way these guys go running straight towards those huge brick wall waves at the beach like it’s nothing probably makes a 30-foot drop into the ocean below look like a cotton candy bubble bath. I’ll be cheering you on.

Follow Aloha Stadium’s Flugtag on their Facebook page or Instagram.


Christa Wittmier has chronicled Honolulu nightlife since 2004. She is senior marketing director at Young's Market Co. of Hawaii and executive director of music for POW! WOW! Hawaii, and also helps promote the popular "Bacardi Pool Party" on Oahu. Contact her via e-mail or follow her on Twitter.

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