It's tough to keep things like this blog going without a really reliable stream of income. The winter months destroy us financially, as I do a lot of seasonal building/painting type work. What's that have to do with anything? Well, if I can't keep my truck running or afford new blades for my circular saw, I certainly can't afford a better camera or a computer that isn't on the verge of dying.
Lucky for me, I have a decent knowledge of technology. I've been running computers since the mid 1980's and I'm familiar with pretty much every operating system IBM/Microsoft or Apple has come out with. You still don't care...what am I rambling on and on about?
Toward the beginning of this year, with my Mac G5 Power PC becoming quickly and unusably obsolete, I acquired a used HP laptop. After installing Windows 7 Home Premium on it, I started moving all of my music over to it. Gigabytes and gigabytes of glorious punk rock! I then dumped my SD cards full of recent shows and my pocket recorder full of song ideas, concerts, etc. Things were going really well...I finally felt somewhat organized.
Then the HP fizzled, fried and failed. Goodbye everything I failed to actually back up.
The videos below partially represent what was saved from the February 2, 2013 show at the Bows and Arrows Collective. I say partially because I actually do have the rest of the Charles Albright gig, but they're already well represented on our YouTube page. Sadly, I think the Four Eyes footage is gone. I will save this hard drive for most of what remains of my life hoping to one day retrieve that data...but, realistically, it's forever gone.
It was a really great show. Most shows at Bows are. This was my first time seeing the Four Eyes and Scouse Gits, second time seeing Charles Albright, as well as Boats!. Had a really great grilled cheese from the kitchen...crazy good!
I think I'm just going to drop the videos in here and not do too much more commentary...I've got more uploads to take care of before this pile of crap crashes.
I've been meaning to get Boats! on here since they played Reno with Youth Brigade and Adolescents two years ago...hooky punk and humor!
The Scouse Gits were a huge surprise. Trashy garage rock fun!
As always, Charles Albright rules!!
From the subculture rich environs of punk rock has emerged a dark, sometimes campy, variant. Werewolves, vampires, evil doctors, friendly psychopaths and amorous murderers infest songs of love, yearning and other terrors. True, elements of horror have been with punk since the dark beginnings, but horror punk has become a popular, well-defined sub-genre of the greater punk movement.
Early 'horror' acts include the Cramps, Bauhaus, 45 Grave and Alien Sex Fiend, but the most influential of all remains the Misfits. The headliner for tomorrow night's show at Luigi's in Sacramento, Michale Graves, helped redefine the boundaries of horror punk, giving expanded legitimacy to the genre through his strong songwriting and vocal work with the latter-day Misfits.
Songs in the genre can be humorous or dead serious, and there has always been a persistent melodious nature to a large percentage of them. They're catchy, contagious even, and they've infected our Sacramento scene.
I was introduced to the local strain back in February, when we went to the Where House?, a crazy, all-ages venue in the warehouse district of south Sacramento, to play for my birthday at Matthew Marrujo's 'Far West Punk Fest'. I had invited a bunch of people I know from the scene, as this was our first show in the area and I really wanted someone to see us. Scene historian Ken Doose showed up, as did Benjamin Abel of Sucker Punk Productions fame. Benjamin introduced me to Mr. Vic, who described himself as an old punk, and although I believe he is a punk, I doubt he's anywhere near as old as I am.
Vic and I talked about our histories, punk and the Sacramento scene, until the bands started playing. We chatted some more between acts and by the time we went on Vic and I had decided to talk again soon about one of their bigger upcoming shows. That time has finally arrived, as Mr. Vic's band, The Left Hand, will be opening for Michale Graves at Luigi's on April 17th. The Moans, Strange Party and Avenue Saints will also be sharing the bill, as Michale Graves swings through Sacramento promoting the release of 'Vagabond.'
I'll save the gory details of our talk for another time, but have a chat with Vic if you get a chance. He's not as frightening as he leads on and his easy going nature and enthusiasm give him a certain charm. It's interesting to note, there is no rivalry between the bands appearing on tomorrow night's bill. I learned there are actually very real inter-band friendships and a genuine respect for the songs and talents of their fellows.
During our conversation, Vic spoke about Danny (The Moans) and Justin (The Strange Party) with a sincere brotherly affection. I point this out because it's an important dynamic I see, in varying degrees, throughout the entire Sacramento scene. It's this quality that is keeping Sacramento punk alive and thriving. Hoping to see your friends succeed and doing everything you can to provide support seems to be the underlying element of everything I see here...and it's inspiring.
So...this truly is a night of horror punk, Sacramento...it's a Michale Graves 'Vagabond' CD release party (he's bringing a full band with him!), shared with the Moans as they unveil their first full-length CD "The Moans...From Underground". You'll see The Left Hand, who have a new video out, which you can see over here. The Strange Party will also grace the stage...they have a new song on their Bandcamp page. And the Avenue Saints, who will be playing their hearts out tomorrow night! Video of each band can be found below, just to give you a taste of what's in store. Support local music!!
The Left Hand's ReverbNation page.
Mr. Vic's wanted to give a shout out to this blues show on V103. V103 is a Sacramento based internet radio station that does great things for our scene and has recently been invaded by the Sucker Punks, who I talk about way too much because they're so great. Look at my other articles for links to them.
We play a lot of The Strange Party music on our Facebook page...here's their website.
OK...I know I haven't been keeping up with Punk Retrospective. That doesn't mean I haven't been going to shows...I just really haven't had the time to put together videos and write reviews. I still don't have the time to do a proper write-up. Suffice it to say, Charles Albright is a great band and Charles Albright is a nice man. Here's a little treat to calm your nerves...it's Charles Albright and the boys at Bows and Arrows. I think the Babies played, too...but watch this!!
and for god's sake, go buy this cassette!!
It was my second trip to The Where House? and I was pretty excited to see Bad Daddies again. Hit Reset, The Enlows, The Community, Jesus Christ, Mister! and Bad Daddies...my first show in 2013 and worth the trip, even in an unexpected rainstorm. It was Matt from Rise Entertainment's birthday. Ken Doose was there taking pictures (check 'em out). Former Enlow, Chris Sabatoni, now of Croissants and Charles Albright fame, also attended the event.
This is also the first show I've attended since my band played it's first gig, so I have a new lens to view performance through. I used to only judge a band on whether I like their music or not, but I've softened a bit on that stance. I know it takes some people a lot of preparation and courage to step out there and be judged by the crowd...apparently not the case with Bad Daddies' singer Camylle, nor guitarist Matt. Both are used to being the center of attention at work, so they easily took charge of the venue from the first squeals of feedback 'til the final shout of their brutal set.
Bad Daddies are the reason I drove all the way to the southern edge of Sacramento to stand in an unheated warehouse. The sounds Matt grinds out of his guitar are just about the coolest thing in California and the confrontational intensity of Camylle's performance put this band near the top of my current favorites. There's a certain chaotic energy surrounding the first part of the set, but order starts creeping in as they progress into their newer material and it just gets more awesome. Here's Saturday's live version of 'Regress,' the song the band released on their Soundcloud account last week:
Next up...Jesus Christ, Mister!, the newest band on the burgeoning Sacramento scene. I've seen Morgan stand in for a lot of missing guitar players over the last couple years, but missed him in what I hear were quite a few good bands in the years before I got here. They were a success...here's video of 'Baby, I'm Bored' to prove it:
I might come back to this one and drop in some video from the other bands, but I've got a bit of a backlog going now that I'm devoting my energies toward my band. I can say, the Sacramento scene is growing and there are a bunch of great bands that deserve your support. If you can, get out to a show and buy the merch...if you can't make it to a show 'like' the bands pages, leave comments and buy their stuff online. Let them know you care!
December 18, 2009 - The atmosphere in that old convent hall, filled with smoke and the whisperings of something uncommon about to appear, now defines Winter Solstice for me. It was my first time, witnessing the deep, spiritual intensity of Lasher Keen. I remember feeling intimidated and elated by their musical explorations of the dark…the real dark of a less human-constructed reality. Iconic, near archetypal characters, meshed dramatically with multiple, distinct layers of eerie, swirling, shimmering sound, to create something more than mere song. I wish I could put into words what it was that caught my fascination; the way the whole performance became a ritual and seemed to revel in that scarcely known secret truth of our animal nature was profoundly visceral. I walked away knowing I’d witnessed something unique and worthy of great attention.
That night was the official release of “Wither”. I bought a copy directly from Dylan and Bluebird at the show. The feelings conjured by their performance hadn’t faded when I found myself noticing the strangely organic look and feel of the disc cover binding and the artwork. It became startlingly obvious to me that these people I knew peripherally, in the community, were true artists.
By the time the ‘Possessed by the Forest Queen’ 10″ came out, on December 18 of 2010, I knew Dylan and Bluebird well enough that I went to their house to buy a copy. This wasn’t my first trip there, as our children are classmates and friends, but it was the first time I was really able to look a bit deeper into their everyday lives. From just a cursory glance, the fact that their artistry was not confined to the music and its packaging was obvious. They live lives rich in aesthetic beauty and organic texture and somehow seem to take their existence from a place of deeper thematic meaning. Yes, they’re a bit eccentric, odd even, but in a very grounded, authentic and endearing way.
That ‘thematic meaning’ I mentioned is expressed in a very real way in their songs, conjured from the mix of instrumental divination and mythical lyricism. For example, the title track of the aforementioned album, ‘Forest Queen,’ brings to life a Goddess I’d never even known to look for. Not an anthropomorphic deity or creature, but something more akin to the movement of a particular branch of the tree of existence. She is the living nature of new life and growth spread throughout, and between, all matter and time. This is their depth and I find it difficult to express in prose, but it is as clear as awareness on their LP.
I include here a performance of the beautiful 'Forest Queen' from the 10" ‘Possessed by the Forest Queen’. All of the Lasher Keen back catalog is available on their website at lasherkeen.net.
While ‘Forest Queen’ is, at least to me, at least today, the strongest song on the 10”, it is exceedingly difficult to rank the 13 songs of the new double 12" LP, ‘Berserker’. The album moves through a range of emotions, constricting into tight, claustrophobic little spaces, then soaring into unbridled flights of hopeful torment. But the song ‘Sun Chariot,’ which may eventually be seen as the crowning summation of the band's output (*disclaimer near bottom of page), passes through so much emotional territory that it’s hard to remember where it began as it falters out of existence. It is at once condensed and expansive, present and eternal. It is epic and successful in its grand ambition and highlights the most elementary aspects of what Lasher Keen is.
There do not appear to be any genre constraints with Lasher Keen. The album opens with ‘Ancient Chaos,’ which itself opens with a harp intro, somehow reminiscent of the deeper metal gods of yore, then gracefully slides into a sexy, Motown-inspired romp called ‘Rainmaker’ and later explores growly, twangy, swamp rock with a 3-stringed, cardboard banjo in ‘Fabled Wild Country.’ Plowing through the depths of this album we begin to understand the broad range of puzzling descriptors used in reference to Lasher Keen; “Wood Metal for Scandinavian Tree Troll Folk,” “Medieval Psychedelic Folk,” and “Spirit in Mourning**,” being among those the band use to attempt a coherent self-description. Dylan mentions “inspired amateurism,” perhaps quoting Emerson or Lester Bangs, in a recent interview, while describing the multi-instrumental abilities of the three members of the band.
It may be exactly that “inspired amateurism,” which stirs my respect and amazement at this band of artists. Why else would someone like me, who claims allegiance to humankinds’ greatest art form, punk rock, feel so strongly about the music of a group of mystical folkies? There are no distorted guitars - instead cello, harp, banjo, accordion, barbatos, bodran and Glockenspiel rule the soundscape. Their historic usage of percussion had, until recently, been primarily animal skin drums and a wide range of hand instruments, though they now occasionally employ Adam Torruella to play the trap set. Sage is known to play bass, bouzouki, and banjo along with an array of other stringed instruments I don’t know the names of. Hardly punk, yet it carries within it whatever it is that makes punk great.
I suppose in the end it is the raw passion and artistry I really love, though I can’t presume to tell you that you will love Lasher Keen the way I have come to. I can tell you, it is strange to have found a ‘local band’ doing musical arrangement and performance at this level. There is depth, subtlety, awareness, integrity, intelligence and passion in this work and, for me, that makes it genuine. And, the authentic nature of the music, artwork and lives of this band are well represented in this brilliant album, 'Berserker'. It is beautiful to look at, double LP, full-color gatefold with a 32-page booklet and some stunning colored vinyl, if you like, but the flow and depth of the music is what makes "Berserker' a must-have.
I went to video one of the last practices the band will have together. I could feel an underlying mournfulness, aside from what Bluebird's cello naturally brings. You see, after Lasher Keen performs ‘The Psychotropic Cult of the Oracular Sacrificial Severed Head’ at Stella Natura: The Light of Ancestral Fires, string master/percussionist, Sage Arias, makes his disheartening, hopefully temporary, move away from the band. I am assured we can all hope to hear new songs arising in a yet unknown future as the last note of this incarnation of Lasher Keen falters from existence.
Contact the band to get your copy of any Lasher Keen release through these links:
*There are songs on Wither, like 'Animal' and 'Spirit Flesh,' which were critical in defining the sound and feel of the band. 'Forest Queen' and 'Greater Darkness' on the 10" ‘Possessed by the Forest Queen’ are also pivotal in the process. It remains to be seen where the rumored 25-30 minute ‘The Psychotropic Cult of the Oracular Sacrificial Severed Head’ will stand in the overall catalog of Lasher Keen. 'Alone in the Night (Celtic Death March)' seems to be the only hint at what was to come off the first CD, the self-titled 'Lasher Keen.'
**Purportedly a literal translation of 'Lasher Keen'. Why shouldn't I take Dylan at his word? Well, because he also said the definition/translation shifts according to his whim. I like this translation anyway!
Get ready, kids! Bat Guano Fest (September 14 & 15) is just around the corner featuring the release of the new compilation, "Batshit Crazy" from your host, Mr. Ken Doose...and don't forget...Saturday is Ken's birthday! If that weren't enough...it's also the unofficial 22nd anniversary of Bat Guano Productions!
Ken is a deservedly well-known figure in Sacramento punk. His knowledge and documentation of the scene are the stuff of legends...and websites (LoserList69, SactoPunkFlyers, etc.). As part of his nearly 30 years of tracking the history of Sacramento punk, Ken has been co-creating that history by putting together some pretty incredible shows and releasing compilations, including artists from within the local scene, over the past few years.
This years' comp features over 30 bands and will be available at the shows (CD-R) and as a free download upon release (officially, 09/19/12 - Ken's actual birthday)...just Ken's way of giving back to the community!!
Be sure to thank Ken for putting this event together when you're giving him his birthday present! Oh, and tell Paul Imagine he did a great job on the compilation artwork!
Bat Shit Crazy - Local Bat Guano Comp
Released by Bat Guano Productions 9/19/12
Union Hearts - Losing Skin
Cold Heart Re-Press - A Lover's Answer
The Strange Party - I Know Where You Live
City Of Vain - P.M.A.
Bastards Of Young - Achin' To Be
Dead Dads - Trolling At The Moon
The Walking Dead - Driving
Mad Judy - Facial Hair Stare
Urban Wolves - Farewell
The Moans - Son Of The Devil (But He's A Real Stand Up Guy)
The Yoohoos - Bad Hair 24/7
The Croissants - On My Mind
RAD - Victim In Pain
Bad Daddies - Climb The Levy
Abandoned Generation - A.A.
Crude Studs - Night Bathe
MJF & The Parkisins - Love To Skate
Rat Damage - Graveyard
The Community - Modus Operandi
The Left Hand - Undead Bride
Killdevil - "Rusted Dream"
30.06 - Merchant Of Death, Soldier Of Doom
The Porter Project - Start To Finish
Support The Rabid - Government Cheese
Bad Ending - Slave To The Rich
The Aberzombies - Sleep
The Crappys - Wreaks Of Effort
The Secretions - Back In The Day Punk (Live)
The Dumb Fox - Audio Or It Didn't Happen
Eggnog Yoohoo - Cave Potato
The Carbonites - My Vulcan Heart
FRIDAY, SEPTEMBER 14
ZERO FOR ZERO
BOBBY JOE EBOLA AND THE CHILDREN MACNUGGITS
THE LEFT HAND
SATURDAY, SEPTEMBER 15
THE WALKING DEAD
SUPPORT THE RABID
THE STRANGE PARTY
THE PORTER PROJECT
When we shoot shows, it is sometimes hard to enjoy oneself. You have to stand in uncomfortable positions, arms raised, watching a tiny screen. We have a system, where we film three or four songs of a set, try to take in the music for three or four songs, then exit during the closer for a rest or a smoke. Unfortunately, this formula prevents us from fully experiencing the shows most of the time.
That said, it would have been difficult to not enjoy yourself at Punch and Pie. These bands came to play, and inadvertently melt some god dammed faces.
If you’re not aware of whom Urban Wolves are, I feel sorry for you. Sarah McLaughlin, sad one-eyed puppy, hide the swelling tear from your girlfriend sorry. It’s difficult to be an opener, be amazing and not steal the limelight from the headliner. It’s a very fine balance to entertain, enjoy what you’re doing, and still be real. These kids knew what they were doing. “Seasoned musicians” is not a good enough explanation of what I saw. You seriously wanted to dance. How do you dance to punk music? Fuck you, that’s how. The god dammed Urban Wolves are on, don’t question me.
In the first part of this story, I mentioned how Sean Stepp offered to put me on a guest list I was already on. He brings that class with him on stage with Civil War Rust. I disappointingly missed more of this set than I would have liked, but not in vain. Not knowing who he was, I approached Sean and told him what an amazing job he did. We struck up a conversation and I learned he works for Amp Magazine. Holy shit, I was making a friend. Or I was drunk, I guess it was something I’d have to figure out in the morning.
When you watch Bastards of Young, you hear something in their music. You can’t quite make out what it is, but it’s empowering in a way. Lys Mayo (Urban Wolves, Dead Dads) dances wildly beside me as the camera closes, shaking her tall can like a tambourine. In fact, everyone surrounding me is dancing. It’s safe to dance. For a moment, I’m liberated, and who I am or what I’m doing… It doesn’t matter, only the chanting of on and on from “In the Diggins…” matters. Lys bends down in front of me and grabs Sean Hills’ set list, writing “New Reaction” over it in blue sharpie, throwing it at Sean’s feet. Sean picks it up and shows drummer Wyman Harrell, modestly saying, “I like Lys’ idea.” The song starts, and the place goes mother-fucking bat-shit crazy. Where am I and how did I get here? And can I please never leave?
My break came during Red City Radio. When you do what we do, there’s a certain point you don’t care who’s playing anymore, you just want to rest. This was not that opportunity.
I got the privilege to watch from behind the wall at the Press Club, pulling back the curtain and complimenting drummer Dallas Tidwell on his amazing style. He turns and HOLY FUCK, YOU’RE THE GUY I TALKED TO IN LINE FOR THE PISSER!! My life is full of these screwed up coincidences, but it’s been a long, long time since one of them caught me so off guard. It’s safe to dance again. It’s okay to enjoy myself.
It’s night one for me, it’s not yet over, and I’m enjoying every minute of it. Amazing things have already happened. Justin Hell from The Strange Party introduces himself, as well as band mate Morgan (?). He recognizes me from a podcast. Over the course of the festival, Justin and Morgan turn from a couple of guys I’m not quite sure of to a couple of guys I’m not only glad to have met, but am honored to call friends. Someone mentions Ken Doose’s name, and I recognize it from the internet. This is one of the guys always sharing the Video Magazine. I must meet this man, shake his hand and say thank you. No one bothered to tell me I was approaching a legend, or maybe I would have waited until I was sober. I can’t imagine what this man may have thought about me, but I hope good things. And I received a Bat Guano button for my boldness. We were introduced to Taper Jim, a fossil of a man, who tapes shows much like we do at Sucker Punk Productions. The genius idea of trading footage came up, something I’m jealous that I didn’t think of myself. We exchanged contact info with Jim and Sean from Civil War Rust, although I admit I can’t remember why Sean wanted me to contact him now. And I couldn't leave without introducing myself to Pat Hills, whom I'd later learn was in the middle of mixing nine albums at the same time.
All of this, plus Sean Hills. We exchanged gratitude about our little video, and I coined the phrase in that moment, the “Man with Million Dollar Ideas.” It’ll catch on, Sean. Promise.
And at the end of the night, outside with all the younger kids, next to Dennis and Erin Jordan’s merch table, Morgan and a friend play an acoustic set. Why? Because that’s how they fucking roll. Accept it.
It was a long, long day at work the next morning. As well it should have been. But I was anxious to get back to the festival. We arrived to a very crowded Luigi’s, and that’s when the Genius of Sean Hills hit me. The Press Club is a 21 and up bar. Bands like Mad Judy and 9:00 News, younger with a younger fan base, needed somewhere else to play. The under age kids needed to experience this as well. And both bands, with their anthem style rifts and unique vocalists drew in that crowd. I’m posted between the sidewall and the stage for both sets, and I enjoy every minute of it.
I get my break during the Secretions, and this is when they bring it. They slam through what sounds like a decade of music. It’s fast and unapologetic. All of this I’m taking in, it’s too much too soon. I’m culture shocked. I have to step outside and get some air. There’s no will or energy to socialize. It’s night two, and my liver cannot keep up. For Christ’s sake, how much more am I going to be able to take before I just pass out from over stimulation?
Blag Dahlia was the break I needed. His quaint, personal acoustic set was both relaxing and funny as hell. He played to the crowd like they were old friends he hadn’t seen in years. I ran over normal recording time because he was just so damn entertaining. I didn’t want to put the camera down because I was afraid I would never see such a charismatic, crowd-friendly person again.
There wouldn’t be any socializing that evening, and I was perfectly okay with that. I was exhausted, shell shocked, and overall still questioning myself about where my place in all of this really was. The beer was as heavy as the sleep, and if my glasses ended up underneath Jasen’s ball sack that evening, I was sure I would be okay with it in the morning.
I was revived the next day, wanting impatiently to be back at Luigi’s. My hand was shaken numerous times upon arrival, for what I cannot say. I sat down with Ken Doose and was schooled on Sacramento’s rich scene history. I honestly felt like a foolish idiot, and yet proud that a guy like Ken would bother with a guy like me. This man, this iconic figure with such a love for music, spending time being one of the biggest supporters of local music and I imagine one of the best fans a band could have, gave a shit about what I was saying. Tiny, insignificant, lost nobody me. I will always be grateful for that conversation.
And that’s what the day was. Amazing conversations with Justin Hell, Mike Boyd from The Walking Dead, Dave Gordus from The Porter Project and numerous others I can’t even remember. Pints of beer turned into pitchers. People began recognizing and realizing who I was, thanking me for filming and telling me I was doing an amazing thing for the scene. All of which branched out from spending the last decade feeling dead inside and wanting so badly to just not be bored with myself anymore. It was like I hadn’t ever been outside.
I was already dancing when Dead Dads came on. I took my spot on the side stage, a perfect angle to watch Lys Mayo beat the fuck out of the drums. Shoeless. Seriously, is there anything this girl doesn’t do? I would later be told that lead singer/guitarist Cory Wiegert would be a good person to trade footage with and that I must… MUST download their EP. I did that. I was not disappointed.
When Know Your Saints played, you could feel the bitter cold of Seattle. The band relocated to Oakland and front man Lucas Andrews had something to say. And I listened intently, trying to not be distracted by the urge to jump around. The band has passion, and they wear it openly. I was left with an impression of awe that would be hard to beat.
Kill Devil is a different kind of beast, and one I’ve enjoyed since I first saw them almost a year ago at the Professional. Mike Boyd and Alex Dorame are wonderful people and we have a rich history of doing one another favors, like when Alex gave us a shout out, “They weren’t asked to be here. They do it because they love it.” You couldn’t ask for such a lovely compliment. Or for a more amazing set. Their whole style is more alternative, true alternative, not punk. But when they play, you can see and hear why they fit in so well with the scene. It’s their home.
This next part is hard for me to describe. I watched this old guy slam beers all day. He had an impressive wizard beard to go with his impressive beer gut. His movements blended in the crowd and you wouldn’t guess he gave a shit about any of the music. This man was obviously here to get smashed and find a bush to pass out in. He also ended up being Davey Quinn from Tiltwheel.
This guy is smashed before he reaches the stage, and he admits he has no idea what the next half hour is going to sound like. His band mates razz him about talking through the whole set, then they debate what song they’re going to play. This intro fell just short of being slightly uncomfortably long. And without notice, the band slams into playing this fast, heart pounding music that I was not expecting.
My job was to get angles of the drummer. The camera never left Davey Quinn. You could see the passion literally flow through this guy’s guitar playing. All the angst, all the anger of a horrible life… All the shitty jobs to make ends meet, all the fucked up girlfriends, all the people passed away. It was all there, right in front of my face. This man paid his dues in this life, and being up on that stage with a guitar in his hand, it’s the ONLY thing he wants. By all accounts of what I saw, this guy should have been a total wreck. He stole the show. Completely blew me away, so much so that I swelled up and almost dropped the camera. I could feel the music in my heart, and it moved me. Tiltwheel did something to me so profound and far off edge for me... It woke me up. There were no filters, no walls, no denial. Just real, true to blood life. Grounded and pumped out of Davey’s guitar.
I wish I could end right there, at the highest point of a festival that was nothing but high points. But it was Saturday, and the day was only half over.
There was a pause between shows. I had to compose myself. And drink. This was all so crazy for me and I had no idea what to expect next. Cold Heart Re-Press, it’s like they knew. They didn’t disappoint. Bear Williams is a genius in his own right, blending a beautiful mix of grunge era alternative rock sounds with punk. Paul Filthy acts out for the camera and I can’t turn away. The man is made for the stage. We have a rule about crossing one another with our camera angles. You just don’t cross in front of one another. Fuck that, I started behind drummer Kiel Gesicki and circled all the way around the stage to Sarah Shintaku and back again. I had to get them all on my camera, it wasn’t worth missing. I didn’t do this for any other band, and it was fantastic.
By the time Hear the Sirens came on, I finally figured it out. My entire life, people kept telling me to listen to music. My fleeting flaw of being way too literal, it never occurred to me to feel the music. Every band clicked in one way or another, and they were no different. The crowd had swollen and they spoke their compliments with dancing and cheers. This is the point I think my face began to melt.
I broke during Union Hearts. No, I didn’t go outside and rest for a moment. I literally spiritually broke down inside. That is how amazing this night, these bands were. It was a surge, a pouring of something other worldly, frothing through my skin, and it broke me. Union Hearts makes the room spin in a way that makes you feel like you’re moving all over the place while you’re standing perfectly still.
Cobra Skulls has an intensity I imagine being akin to lighting yourself on fire and jumping out of a plane while being eaten alive by fire ants. These guys don’t play their instruments, they slay them like a back-talking indentured servant. It was like fucking in a janitor’s closet when you know the custodian is almost done mopping up. What I’m trying to get across here is that they were pretty good. I didn’t walk out of Luigi’s so much as I stumbled out a drunken shamble of the person I used to be.
Sunday, the fest moved back to the Press Club for an early show. I was in a strange mood and didn’t say much to anyone. The last three days had put a lot in my mind and it needed to sort itself out. This was the night I met Cory Wiegert and we briefly talked about trading film. I had a long conversation with Justin Hell about things of the scene nature. To be honest, it was mostly just me listening. It was suggested I talk to Charles Albright, which I never got around to doing. I was growing a new perspective, and I realized I had been selfish with myself by not allowing myself to experience any of this until I was almost 30.
And then The Strange Party started. When you look at Justin Hell, you don’t expect to hear Jerry Only come out of his mouth. It made sense later when I heard he stood in for Vic Salazar at a Left Hand show just the week before. In fact, when you see the band get on the stage, you don’t expect what comes out of them. Adventure. Excitement. A Jedi craves not these things. Unless they’re at a Strange Party show, because they leave you wanting more. I immediately asked for recordings, which aren’t yet available. I feel like taking methadone to get through the withdrawals.
I saw RAD’s very first show at the Professional last year. They had left an impression on me back then, and I yearned to see them again. I regret waiting a whole year, because they were just as awesome this time around as they were last. What makes RAD so amazing is their ability make you say, “Fuck, that was rad.” Who can pull that off? They can. I felt my skin sliding off my skull again. The thrash from these scene veterans makes you wish you’ve known them all your life. Lory Gilpatric screams so violently into the mic, you wonder if she could punch a hole through your face. And they do it with these huge shit eating grins on their faces, like they’re about to surprise you with a carnival prize.
And then there’s The Walking Dead. I can’t count how many times I’ve seen them play. Something familiar, something I can sing along with. I party with these boys, and ideas are formed and passed around regularly. Front man Andy Harrison had a hand in leading us in the direction we’ve gone. To say anything less than they’re a solid act with class would be an insult. When they’re on stage, they’re top billing performers, and when they’re off, they’re all just one of the guys. I love their sound. Always have, always will.
Everything came to an end for me with Kill the Precedent. Holy fuck. These guys are genius. This isn’t music so much as performing art. They blend their music with costumes, stage presence, film, sound clips and noises that I can only describe as old science fiction sound effects. You have no idea what the hell you’re looking at when it happens, but when it’s done, you’re so glad you saw it. It really is something different, and I don’t say that lightly. While the whole festival was noise candy and some sort of spiritual doping for me, this was by far the most intriguing band I had seen, not for just the elements I mentioned above. These people should be famous.
And that was it. I walked away strangely satisfied by the experience that was Punch and Pie. I would miss the Phenomenauts and Continental. There would be no City of Vain for me, and that was a disappointment. I would leave wishing to have seen the Moans, Prima Donna, the Community, Setting Sons and Cold Feelings. They would all have to be seen at a different time. And that funny feeling came back to me.
Sean Hills, the Man with Million Dollar Ideas, he was doing something in the scene, in the community. He was setting a standard. He was making a point. He was proving this could happen, if we wanted it. And so modest is this man, giving credit where it’s due, shying away from compliments. This wasn’t something he did to gain attention. Like Alex Dormane had said about our company, he did it because he loves it. Because he loves the music and he loves the fan. He is, in my opinion, the new standard of the scene. And yes I would be so bold to say so, even being an outsider coming in for the first time. I don’t believe I would be disagreed with.
Because that funny thing that happened when Urban Wolves started playing… That thing I couldn't describe when listening to Bastards of Young. The feeling I would continue to feel throughout the festival. The thing swelling in my chest that I couldn’t quite pinpoint. The emotion that I continue to feel after experiencing the juggernaut that was Punch and Pie Fest.
Sean Hills put that there. And it’s called revival.
El Dorko has asked me to start contributing to Punk Retrospective, and humbled by the offer, I agreed. But before I turn in my first piece of work, I thought it would be fair to give you, the readers, a little background as to how I ended up here. I, although not surprisingly to anyone that knows me well, ended up here through a series of interesting coincidences that snowballed out of my control.
See, I am not a show goer. Or at least until recently, never considered myself as such. That wouldn't be a big deal... Except I'm 29. My experience with the scene up until this point can be compared to a borderline blackout, with glimpses of memories coming back without explanation and an overwhelming feeling of shame about what I may or may not have been listening to. I'm dead serious. My friends still point out pop rock idols I had once as a teenage girl. My particular taste in music was deplorable, and it seemed to leave a dirty taste in others' minds. That's right folks, I have no real street cred, it's all a sham.
Which makes everything even stranger for me because I know the difference between good and bad music. My guilty pleasures as a teen included obscure b sides of Rancid, the Queers and bootleg Anti-Flag. I was exposed to Rage Against the Machine before the radio was, and my brother spun Les Claypool and the Holy Mackerel when I came to visit. My father introduced me to Arlo Guthrie while I was still wetting the bed, for christ's sake. I don't know what happened to me, but at some point I strayed from the path and started listening to crap.
And this sad fact continued on for years. Even into early adulthood.
This harsh criticism is an echo of one of my oldest and dearest friends, Grayden Day, formally of Soul Kavity, I Hate Everything and The Walking Dead. He constantly reminds me of who I used to be and keeps me humble... Well, really he gets drunk and belittles me, but it's close to the same thing, right?
I followed his arch through Soul Kavity, which I believe is where we both first encountered Tony and Andy of The Walking Dead. These two would later be the catalyst of some of the things we do at Sucker Punk. Through Grayden's stay in Soul Kavity and The Walking Dead, I never really went to a punk show. The closest I think I can come to is the Offspring, but that was on their Americana tour, and that wasn't quite punk anymore. Following Grayden to his shows for support, I ran into hardcore and metal mostly, music that while I have a great amount of respect and admiration for, I don't enjoy. I don't get it and never really have. And I'm judged just as harshly for this as anything else.
I don't want to confuse anyone, but all this time, there was punk spinning somewhere in the background, but I didn't recognize anyone around me listening to it. I discovered it on my own, through compilations from early Warped Tours and the internet. And even then, it was always “don't listen to Alkaline Trio,” or “why are you listening to that NoFX album? This one is better.” So even what I thought could be tolerable by my peers... Wasn't. Pulling that 7 Seconds tape out of my pocket was completely out of the question. It would just be more ammo, and I'd had enough. I gave up on bringing up music or asking what was worth listening too. That was obviously a part of the world I was never going to understand.
Flash forward years. Many, many years. I had tried developing a role playing game, tried selling a script, tried playing bass in a hard rock band, tried starting a comic book. Nothing was taking so I took a sabbatical to Long Beach for a year. I became a fan of talk radio, specifically SmodCo and RadioLab. I finished Battle of the Drunks, a shitty documentary about an underground drinking competition. My liver almost didn't survive the editing process. Nothing was happening for me down there but the bar, and I wasn't sure what the hell I was going to do. But I knew I wasn't going to survive long if I stayed in Long Beach, so I raced home.
I pulled together Matt Farquhar and Brett Jordan and we began writing. But it wasn't enough. We planned on making movies in the future. It wasn't soon enough. I was getting frustrated. And then, of course, came the inevitable lunches and dinners when you arrive home. The long, tedious, drawn out conversations where you repeat yourself over and over and the person opposite of you doesn't impress you at all. That's when Julie Wuest, an old friend of mine, sparked an idea. She works for the Children's Receiving Home off Auburn Blvd. She had been trying to throw a benefit show for a music program she wanted to start at the home, but was continually stone walled by promoters and venues. I though, “Hey, I know plenty of musicians. Maybe I can get someone to help.” We were next door to Luigi's, so I just strolled over and asked the Walking Dead if they'd help.
Michael Boyd was new to the band, but it sounded exciting to him and everyone else. So we threw a benefit show a few months later, with Keeping Score, Kill Devil, STR and TWD. We thought filming the show would be cool, even though we didn't have a whole lot of equipment yet. Maybe if the footage was good, we could cut a dvd and sell it to the Children's Home. That never happened, because we didn't think of what the sound was going to be like. But this is where the ideas of documentaries began being thrown wildly around. We could make one of TWD's ten year anniversary. Or of Andre Love, because of how crazy his life was. We quickly switched from writers to documentarians. We raised $500 for the home, and we went to look at the footage we got from the show.
It wasn't great. But we could fashion a few things with it here and there and hey... This actually looks really cool. What else do we have... Dude, we should film more shows...
And we did. A bunch of metal shows. The music thing became Brett and Jasen Koster's thing more so than anyone else. And good for them, because they were doing awesome things. But I didn't want to film more bands I didn't know and probably wouldn't like. And it had been a while since I had picked a show to go to, so when I saw Autumn Sky playing with the Secretions, I said “That one. I've heard of both of them and have never listened to either. That show, there.” It was a decent show, but not exactly what I thought it was going to be. (I later learned the Secretions didn't 'bring it' like they normally do because Autumn Sky is way too awesome to play fast.)
We continued branching out. My mind was blown away by Sans Sobriety at the Blue Lamp. I watched Bastards of Young and City of Vain at Concert in the Park. One of my favorite videos I've cut is of A Single Second at the Press Club. And it started making sense. I wanted more. I wanted to know the faces I recognized at shows by name. But I didn't know how to get there. I searched the internet and found Sacramento Punk Shows. And it was there and at all these shows that I started admiring the graphic design in flyers. I thought back to how Joe Maumee used to read local show listings on the air every night, and how insightful the idea was. It's something I wanted to do, but I wasn't a radio guy, I was a video guy. And the idea of the video magazine popped into my head. How hard could it be? It was worth taking a chance. I would send out a pilot episode and plan to start in a month, just to see if anyone responded.
They did. Overwhelmingly. I was immediately contacted by Sunny D at v103, El Dorko from Punk Retrospective,and Bob Tul from Maiden's Sorrow. I was so taken aback from the positive response, I knew I couldn't wait a whole month to get started. I immediately released the first issue, and it just took off. I was emailed by the legendary Sean Hills from Bastards of Young and Punch and Pie Productions. It was short but sweet. Just something saying he thought it was a great idea and to contact him if he could help in any way. I thanked him and asked him to send me flyers when he got them. I wasn't aware at the time that he actually made all the flyers for Punch and Pie. After a few issues, I knew it was something that I had to keep doing, for myself, and for everyone that seemed to appreciate it so much. And thought nothing else of it.
About two months went by, and there was quite a scuttle going around about Punch and Pie Fest. We made the choice to make it to as many of the shows as we could and film as much as possible. It would be business as usual, with the majority of the footage being archived for later, and possibly a music video or two, whatever worked out. Sean emailed me again. He wanted a commercial for Punch and Pie. Yes, Sean. I can do that. I can do that very well.
We met, talked about what he wanted, he showed me his amazing talent in photoshop. Nothing less than impressive. We cut the video together in a few short hours and sat down over pizza and talked about the scene. He offered to let us into the shows for free because he had no other way to repay me. I tried to refuse. It seemed like too much for such a simple thing I helped with. I literally did nothing but help him decide on the flow of the video and then put his work to music. He insisted, and that was that.
These offers and opportunities, they popped up everywhere. El Dorko asked if I'd like to write for Punk Retrospective. Of course I would, but about what? I wasn't making it to too many shows. I didn't know how to review a show. But El Dorko couldn't make it to any of the Punch and Pie shows, so someone had to do it. But how was I going to put together something interesting enough for people to watch? Was my writing still sharp enough for that? And worse, what if I didn't like it and had nothing to write about? How shitty would I look? I was already going to miss the first and last show at the fest, and it didn't look like I was going to make it to the Red City Radio show either. What a half ass journalist move, only getting to half the shows. Was it going to be worth it?
I posted online that I wanted to go, but didn't know if I was going to make it. Sean Stepp from Amp Magazine and Civil War Rust offered to put me on the guest list (little did he know, he he). I just wasn't sure I'd be comfortable going to a Thursday show with work on Friday. Jasen called me. Always the voice of reason, he basically told me to nut up and get down there. So I did, not sure what to expect, feeling like an awkward outsider, and fearful that at any moment someone would recognize me for the fraud I was, ruthlessly outing me and tossing me out of the Press Club. I was tense, unsure and nervous. Even more so than usual.
I walked in and got stamped quietly. I politely shook Sean Hills hand. I ordered a beer, flipped open my camera, and took place at the front of the stage. And then, Just as Urban Wolves slammed into the first chord of their set, something funny happened...
That's right...the folks at El Dorko are at it again...yeah, I'm old, so what? Jump on the bandwagon and grab your free download while it's still there...then go to Amnesty International to sign the petition for their release.