Any punk rock fan living in Southern California would immediately recognize the significance of all the bands that played at Skate Punk Fest 2014. This all-ages concert took place at the Glass House in Downtown Pomona last Saturday night, and cost a paltry $15 to enter. Featuring a lineup of some of Southern California’s most popular independent (not on a major record label) punk rock bands, this show brought out fans from all over to rock out to the best Southern California has to offer, with some fans traveling from Europe as well. Many of the bands paid homage to the late Showcase Theatre, a nearby venue infamous for some of the craziest punk rock shows of its time. The enthusiasm in the crowd carried strong all night, even transferring well between sets, as a large portion of the pit continued their pit to house music between sets. This show also proved that if a venue does not staff enough security, the punks will play.
Kicking off the night, Destruction Made Simple arrived with a new 2014 set. A lot has changed since the last time I saw these guys, as they now played with only four band members, with Andy and Adrian switching off between guitar and bass throughout their set. Their set also changed with the songs they played, as they now mainly focused on new content from their latest release. During their set, vocalist Raul mentioned that by the end of the night, the circle pit would stretch from wall to wall within the venue, a vision that would come into fruition later on in the night. Normally a fan favorite, Destruction Made Simple strangely did not perform 21 Year Plan, one of their most recognizable songs. Their latest album does deviate away from their original hardcore punk sound, carrying some elements of ska and metal – a sign of the progression of Destruction Made Simple. What direction will the band head in from here? They play again next week, so perhaps you can obtain a (free) CD from them at that show!
The night progressed forward when Whitekaps took to the stage. I like to attribute Whitekaps as an acquired taste, as you have to attend some of their shows to get to know them. Upon first seeing them live, one may feel put off by their lewd & crude demeanor. Once you listen to their lyrics, everybody can relate to them. In a nutshell, Whitekaps would like everyone to respect the women in their life. Songs like American Dream and Girl In The Pit highlight respecting women and valuing their presence in men’s lives, not necessarily empowering them like Beyoncé does with her songs. In the end, everyone can all agree – a Whitekaps performance will lead to a fun time indeed.
With the next band, we wondered why they would play so early in the night. Narcoleptic Youth carries a huge following and often headlines their own shows, so to see them perform this early feels unknown. This meant little to the band, as they started their set strong without relinquishing any setbacks. They teased us during their sound check by covering We Are 138 by The Misfits, a move that turned Destruction Made Simple’s vocalist Raul’s declaration into a reality – a wall-to-wall circle pit. Once that got going, Narcoleptic Youth jumped right into their set with Is This Punk, a classic that they usually start with. Narcoleptic Youth wasted little time with their set, quickly transitioning from song to song with hits like McAnarchy, Classified, and Mini Van Soccer Mom, closing out their set as they always do with Bitch Needs A Muzzle. Of course the crowd wanted more by the end of the set, by the band adhered well to the schedule, leaving the crowd hungry for more as the crowd continued the circle pit even into the setup time for the next band.
So much mayhem had already transpired in the pit, and the night had only reached the halfway point! Naked Aggression would test the energy of the pit, and inject some life back into anyone who stepped out. If you ever wanted to see an angry band, look no further than Naked Aggression. With songs like Why Do They Fuck Up My World, Lies, and Bitter Youth, teenage angst wafted all over the venue. Everything came into place when they played their When Life Gives Me Shit I Fuck Shit Up song (whose title slips out of my mind at the moment), and some guys in the crowd attempted to jump onto the stage. At least for now, the few security staff present could wrangle the rowdy punks, but the staff would greatly underestimate the crowd during the next band.
At last, the big moment of the night arrived when JFA appeared on stage. In fact, albeit JFA did not play last in the night, the majority of the audience attended primarily to see JFA. They started with We Know You Suck, and from there, chaos ensued as the venue’s security could not maintain the crowd any longer. One by one, fans jumped over the railing, onto the stage, then jumped back into the crowd, kicking any unaware fans in the front, including me. Other songs in their set included Lowrider, Johnny D, Skateboard Anarchy, Walk Don’t Run, and Beach Blanket Bongout. After about half an hour of getting pressed into the front railing and getting kicked by crowd surfers, I stepped out to the side, so I missed most of the remaining action. I remained put for the next band, but pondered how the rest of the crowd still had anything in them.
After a slow setup, the Angry Samoans finally started their set to close the night. Playing the exact same set that they play at all of their shows, the Angry Samoans did not pull off any tricks or anything different – they just performed like they know how to. Prior to their set, some of the audience members mentioned having a copy of their set list, indicating that they have the set list saved and that they print it for every show they perform at. The long set included fan favorites like Right Side Of My Mind, Steak Knife, and Lights Out, which many fans yelled out during the set. I always enjoy seeing the Angry Samoans, but sometimes a little variety would go a long way.
Remember to LIKE all of the bands’ individual Facebook pages to stay updated on the news of the bands and where they will perform next. You do not get an epic lineup like this often, so check back weekly for news on upcoming shows! In the meantime, check out this awesome preview video for Skate Punk Fest 2014 released a few weeks prior: