Photographer Matt Adam is capturing “the side of LA that most people will never see”
Photographer Matt Adam recounts his experience capturing LA's underground punk shows and how his project Unwrap & Steal has gained a cult following.April 27, 2022
I was filming for a documentary that Sam Lipman-Stern was directing about me, and we were taking some photos of a homeless wedding in Echo Park. Sam’s childhood friend was living there at the time in one of the tents. That graffiti life, you come to meet a wild array of people. We ended up grabbing some tacos across the pond and shared some Modelos with the lady who made them and her friends. They were mad cool.
One of the guys started showing me this insane footage from the night before, telling me he had a punk band and they did underground shows. The footage was fucking crazy; this kid jumped off this ledge, which must have been 20 feet off the ground at this abandoned library or something. Shit was wild. I was blown away — I’ve never seen anything like it, to be honest. He told me that they had a show coming up in a few weeks’ time, so we exchanged info. There was no way I was going to miss the show, so me and Sam obviously went. The show was insane. These are some stills from that performance and a few other shows that happened under bridges, and even one that got on the news, where the cops came and started shooting everyone with rubber bullets.
That’s the shit I live for. That’s the part of LA I want to show people — the side of LA that most people will never see. The documentary that we were filming is all about this movement I started called Unwrap & Steal. I make art from photographs, then wrap them like gifts and hang them in the streets for people to steal. It’s a real-life treasure hunt, and I post clues on my social media accounts for people to go on a hunt to find and steal the art. It’s garnered a cult following in the city. Make sure to keep an eye out for my drops, and follow me on my socials @mattadam___.