Posts Tagged ‘Mike Virus’

One does not simply waltz into a mosh pit and expect to not get hit. In most types of rock music, a live concert almost always involves some sort of a mosh pit. Depending on the genre, the mosh pit adopts different movements and actions. Harder genres like metal sees more unorganized movements with pushing, elbowing, and arm flailing. Modern hardcore involves a lot of jumping on or over people, as far as I have observed. Punk rock and ska involve a circle pit of either slam dancing or skanking, respectively. For now, we shall focus on slam dancing, and its importance to the history of punk rock. In the early years of punk rock, slam dancing merely involved moving, typically in a circle, and slamming into others in the pit. Those in the pit expected to get pushed around and even knocked down, only to get picked up, shrug it off, and continue slam dancing. True slam dancing has toned down significantly since those days, since most kids nowadays cannot take a solid hit without crying about it. However, a show in East LA last week aimed to celebrate the slam dance by booking bands prevalent in local street punk, the genre known for the most brutal slam dance pits.

The Slam Dance Fest wrapped up the end of May with a show originally containing 20 bands booked. This 7+ hour show at The Airliner in East LA brought street punk bands from all over Southern California to play this crazy show at a venue containing two stages – one on the main floor, and one upstairs. For an old building, the walls contained enough insulation to block out the sound between the two rooms. Although the bill contained 20 bands, only 11 bands ever played this show. The other nine bands (Testicle Difficulties, Short Temper, Child Abduction, Corrupted Youth, Underground Alliance, The Runts, The DiPS, Infirmities, and RF7) failed to adhere to the 18 & over rule by forgetting to bring ID’s. Looking back, this also prevented many of the bands’ fans from attending this show, as a lot of the kids did not have an ID, as I observed them all standing outside the venue as I entered. All the bands that played all played the loudest, angriest show they could muster up.

A band called Desastre opened the night, playing to a very light crowd. I actually had not arrived at the venue until the next band, so I completely missed Desastre.

I arrived at the venue during Slow Children‘s set. As I entered, I immediately recognized them from a show I attended back in February. They kept up the same energy as they did at that show. As the night had not truly started, they played to no more than ten people in the room. I still believe they deserve a larger audience, as they have a great sound, more than just a typical garage band.

Although the show’s organizer originally booked Hollywood Hate to play later in the night, no other band had arrived to set up for the next show, whereas Hollywood Hate had all already arrived at the venue. As a result, they decided to play following Slow Children. Much like the last show I saw them at, their set contained fast and angry songs designed to motivate the crowd into entering a berserker frenzy. Their reputation as a hard-hitting band preceded them, as I encountered many people from the last show at this one. After all, once you go to enough shows, you start to recognize other fans. However, once their set ended, their night would not – more on this in a bit.

Age of Fear opened the upstairs stage. This new local band played their first show only a month prior, so they never even officially made it onto the show’s lineup until very recently. They ended up playing a rather short set because the lead vocalist broke a guitar string. Their music sounds like a mix of street punk and anarchy punk, with lots of loud and angry hits. This upstairs stage contained significantly more space to move around in compared to the downstairs stage, so Age of Fear actually managed to incite a pit, albeit a small one.

As mentioned above, the night would not end for some of Hollywood Hate’s members. A rare treat for LA, Last Round Up played next in the downstairs stage. Although they arrived shorthanded, they received assistance in the form of Chris and Suzy from Hollywood Hate, filling in on bass and drums, respectively. Last Round Up carries the similar loud, fast, and angry sound of Hollywood Hate, but with their own personal take on the music, which ends up slightly catchy as long as you can wrap your head around the slam dancing going on in the tiny space in front of a small stage. With the night finally in full motion, bands now played back to back alternating between the stages.

Once I stepped upstairs for the next band, I knew I had gotten more than my money’s worth when I witnessed familiar faces that I had not seen in a decade. Much like with my recent discovery of the return of Destruction Made Simple, I pumped myself up for the first All Out Attak show since my high school days. This rad female-fronted metal-punk band from Wilmington used to rock backyards back in the day with other local bands like Just Like Before. After that, they just disappeared from the local music scene. However, they recently made a comeback starting in March, and I now know that I can relive my teenage punk youth vicariously through All Out Attak. As a Slam Dance Fest, All Out Attak truly represents an icon in slam dancing, as they play fast and loud enough that large pits may not even keep up. Their set list included plenty of older songs, and since I listened to their CD so much in high school and college, I sang along to some of the songs. “Screams” vocalist Vanessa saw me and allowed me some mic time on some of their songs. I may have killed my voice during the set, but how often can you rock out with a significant band that you had not seen in years?

Whomever the organizers planned to play downstairs at this time did not show up, and neither did the subsequent bands for the downstairs stage. This allowed for some downtime until Evacuate could start their set. If the vocalist looks familiar, recall the famous bands The Virus and Cheap Sex. Take their lead vocalist, and place him in a new local band called Evacuate. The intensity in the room slowly escalated throughout the set, starting from a minor pit and evolving into a full-blown violent mess. Evacuate even had to stop mid-song because of the massive fight that erupted in the room. I had not witnessed a full stop to a song since T.S.O.L. at Musink when they stopped after people started recording a fight on their phones. Regardless, Evacuate played a hard and furious set, enough to please all punk fans, and especially The Virus and Cheap Sex fans.

Continuing upstairs, Decry made a rare appearance in Los Angeles to play at Slam Dance Fest. As one of the oldest bands to play this night, much of the crowd consisted of adults by now, as opposed to teenagers and young adults. The crowd did seem to whittle down following Evacuate – a shame, since Decry has stuck around the punk rock industry since the 1980’s and deserves everyone’s attention. Decry plays music like a UK punk band. Imagine a band like One Way System, then tone down the screams, and you have Decry. As the last of the night’s main headliners, only the sub-headliners and small font bands remained.

The downstairs stage now had a band fully set up, so Hari Kari wasted no time getting started with their set, as they started well after midnight. Hari Kari mainly played cover songs, a strange behavior for a band with so much history. As another band that started in the 1980’s, Hari Kari could have played an entire set of original songs, so playing a set of mainly cover songs struck me as peculiar. However, because they started so late, Hari Kari had to cut their set shorter than normal. The rest of the bands following Hari Kari would also have to greatly cut their sets due to time constraints.

As the last band to grace the upstairs stage, Civil Disgust played to a nearly empty room, as most of the crowd had left following Evacuate and Decry. Because they started so late in the night, Civil Disgust only had time for a few songs, so they picked their fastest, most offensive songs to give the crowd something to remember. Civil Disgust plays old school punk rock music, reminding us all about the glory days of punk rock when fans accepted slam dancing and never got butt-hurt about getting pushed. Sadly, they only played for no more than ten minutes, which would occur to the next band as well.

The UNDead Kennedys closed out the night with their tribute set to the Dead Kennedys. They would have played a handful of popular Dead Kennedys songs, but because they started after 1:30am, the venue only allowed them to play two songs. The UNDead Kennedys resemble a band for entertainment and amusement rather than slam dancing, so they appeared out of place for Slam Dance Fest. That did not prevent the remaining member of the crowd from attempting to slam dance in this small downstairs area.

Missed this epic night of punk rock? You can still catch a weekend full of punk rock and rockabilly at the 2013 Ink-N-Iron Fest this weekend in Long Beach. This weekend contains plenty of local punk rock shows, including the Full Eight Fest. Keep an eye out for my Upcoming Events post next Monday, as the following week contains lots of punk rock shows as well.

When most Americans like to celebrate Cinco de Mayo with lots of drinking and Mariachi music, they stray away from the traditional purpose of Cinco de Mayo, and instead celebrate it the American way. Historians will tell anyone that properly celebrating Cinco de Mayo involves listening to ska music, particularly the Latin-influenced kind. Since Cinco de Mayo fell on a weekend this year, many local bands took it upon themselves to play Cinco de Mayo tribute shows, starting with Friday the 3rd. Down in Orange County, eight local ska and punk rock bands played a small all-ages Cinco de Mayo show last Friday night, resulting in a long six-hour show filled with music and very small down time. To fit all eight bands in the allotted time, the venue gave bands no more than 15 minutes to set up following the previous band. Consider this, and that the venue allowed no in-and-outs, plus no food or drinks available (contrary to the advertisement), meant many tired fans by the end of the night. Admission started at $10, but at some point, admission had increased, as one fellow later in the night admitted to paying $12 to enter.

Local band PSA kicked off the night with their ska-core set. This group of kids has yet to create any sort of foundation, as they carry no official recordings or merchandise. At the moment, they only play small gigs locally. They sound most like very old Falling Sickness with their quick riffs and ska-like chords. This early in the night, no more than 20 people had shown up; however, a few crowd members displayed significant enthusiasm, meaning PSA brought their close friends in, which I later found out got in free.

Damaged came on next, replacing Niño Zombi on the lineup. Imagine some very offensive backyard punk rock music, and you have Damaged. This local punk rock band from La Habra did not hesitate to piss off the crowd with all the F-bombs thrown around the entire set. They purposely wanted to anger everyone to stir up the pit this early. Although they succeeded in generating a pit, the pit contained no more than four boys circling around acting tough. Damaged took an extra five minutes to set up, and ended their set after 20 minutes. This gave the next band five free minutes to set up for their set.

Once Damaged ended their set early and left their mark on the crowd, Corrupted Youth started their set right on time. A street punk band from Los Angeles, these guys do more than just play shows – they organize shows too. They also play some good fast hardcore punk music, resembling The Casualties in their music. Although they still took breaks between songs, their gaps did not last as long as the previous bands, who felt the need to talk between songs. Corrupted Youth just took a quick breather before entering the next song. This 30-minute set of carnage set off the night, as the pit started going hard from this point on.

Not A Chance played next with their ska-core set. Their music carries the fast element of Falling Sickness, but they sound more like older Against All Authority. Having just seen them less than a month ago, I already had high expectations for them, and this set did not disappoint. The energy never faded, and they stringed together all their songs as best as they could, minimizing down time. They play a handful of original songs, and they also cover Bloodhound Gang and Ol’ Dirty Bastard at one point in their set. I can see Not A Chance going far – they just need their big break.

The night truly picked up when the next band entered the stage. Does the face look familiar? Original punk rock fans will recognize the lead vocalist as Mike Virus from The Virus and Cheap Sex. He now heads another band called Evacuate, which carries similar hardcore and street punk music that Mike sang for in his previous bands. For a moment, I wondered why they chose to play this small show, and why they did not headline this show. Regardless, after having thought I would never see Cheap Sex again, I rejoiced by joining in with the pit, which had escalated significantly by now. Evacuate played a 45-minute set, well over their allotted time slot, but who cares when everyone had fun?

South Central Skankers, the first of the night’s three headliners, took to the stage next. One of the true Latin-based ska bands, South Central Skankers played one of the smoothest sets I had ever heard. True to their name, they got the entire room skanking in a wide circle. During their set, they threw out free CD’s and t-shirts as well. They really know how to take care of their fans, and played the right songs to get them moving, including a sing-along song. Most of the crowd had attended this show just for South Central Skankers, evident by the thinner crowd presence for the next bands.

The second headliner marked the final hardcore/street punk band of the night. Narcoleptic Youth drew out all the punk fans in the crowd, who in turn essentially pushed all the ska people aside so they could mosh in the pit. They did not fail to meet expectations – just some good old street punk would get anyone up on their feet and moving. Thankfully, most of the night’s crowd attended the show for South Central Skankers, and most of them left after that set. This cleared out lots of room in front of the stage, allowing for a wider pit. As I had not seen these guys since last year, I most looked forward to watching Narcoleptic Youth on this night.

Last but not least, Matamoska filled up the stage. Another Latin-based Californian ska band, Matamoska bases their style around the punk rock side rather than the smoother side, creating a Latin ska-punk sound for their band. Matamoska often plays with South Central Skankers, as Matamoska’s keyboardist also played for the South Central Skankers set. In return, some of South Central Skankers’ brass players came out to play with Matamoska during one of their songs. Crossovers never get old, and this act added some extra fun to a long and tiring night.

Ska shows occurred all Cinco de Mayo weekend all over Southern California. Although I could not attend them all, I certainly hope you did to check out the ska scene here in California. Shows will keep coming too, so always check back weekly to discover a show near you!