Last Night: Youth Brigade, Channel 3, the Stitches at Alex's Bar, Long Beach

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The Hype: A car recently slammed into Riverboat Gamblers guitarist Ian MacDougall while he rode his bicycle through Austin, Texas. Last night an ace roster of punk bands converged at  Alex's Bar in Long Beach to help out a fellow musician in need of money to pay hospital bills. Alex Hernandez of Alex's fame has always been a big Riverboat Gamblers fan and organized the charity event. Benefits work only if the bill is strong: For a Sunday night, Youth Brigade, Channel 3, the Stitches, Bullet Treatment, Toys that Kill, Werewolf, Blockage and Fiction Reform brought asses through the door.

The Show: Half my life had passed since I last saw Youth Brigade and surprisingly, I enjoyed their set much more than I did as a 15-year-old punker. Back then, I didn't care about melody, but these days, I dig a catchy tune. Channel 3 was highly entertaining, even if they preferred the slower rock stuff to the faster hardcore numbers. In cheerful spirits, singer Mike Magrann kept the show moving with some funny one-liners between songs. At one point, he told the crowd that one of his friends liked to have sex to the upcoming song. Once it was over, he asked, "Did anyone get fucked?"

The Stitches played in that "we don't give a fuck" way and I mean that in the best possible manner. The group was loose and seemed to be enjoying itself, even if the crowd was a little on the dull side. Bullet Treatment (featuring Bronx frontman Matt Caughthran ) played hardcore ala Poision Idea and DOA--and did it well. My favorite set of the night came from Toys that Kill, who if you didn't know, rule. The band ripped through "Bomb Sniffin' Dogs," "Run Away...," "They Tied Up All Our Lace" and "Don't Take My Clone" while drummer Mike Felix beat his drums like they owed him money. For years, Felix and I talked about playing together and each time I watch him I wished I would have tried a bit harder to make that happen. 

I walked in mid-way through Werewolf's set. The foursome included Hernandez on bass and picked up where San Diego's Hot Snakes left off. I missed Blockage and am bummed I did because my good friend Nick plays drums for them. Unfortunately, I didn't know that beforehand or else I would have showed up earlier. Sorry Nick. 

The Crowd: The audience was your typical tattooed, horizontal-striped, pierced (and leopard print for the ladies) Alex's crowd. Were they fired up? Yes. So much so that two fights broke out during the first three Youth Brigade songs. The first was during, "Violence," which ironically, isn't about beating up people at a bar. Once the brawlers were gone, the beer-soaked pit didn't slow down as a few guys and girls ran in circles for the majority of Youth Brigade's 45-minute set. One guy who won the title of Drunkest Person at the Bar did the worm in the middle of the pit once Youth Brigade frontman Shawn Stern asked him to breakdance. 

Overheard: "Up next is Middle Age Brigade."

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