Musink Tattoo Convention & Music Festival at OC Fairgrounds

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Andrew Youssef
NOFX performing Sunday
Click for slideshows of Day One, Day Two and Day Three.

The Hype: Three days of tattoos, punk, metal, rockabilly and skateboarding descended upon the OC Fairgrounds under the umbrella of the Musink Tattoo Convention & Music Festival Friday through Sunday. The lineup spanned a few decades, from punk luminaries like Buzzcocks, and the Damned to "newer" punks like NOFX and Face To Face. If you weren't into the particular band playing, one could easily sit down and get some ink done.

The Show: The Cult headlined Friday night to an undersized but appreciative audience. Front man Ian Astbury was decked out in sunglasses and layers of black while dusting off some classic tunes like "Sweet Soul Sister," "Fire Woman", "Love Removal Machine" and "She Sells Sanctuary." Guitarist Billy Duffy windmilled the strings on his Gretsch White Falcon in dramatic, winning fashion, supporting my theory that few bands really know how to rock these days. 

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Andrew Youssef
Ian Astbury of the Cult, performing Friday
Astbury informed the audience that the Cult was working on a new album "in the desert" with recording wizard Chris Goss (Kyuss, Queens of the Stone Age). The heat in the desert may have affected Astbury, as he went into a diatribe about wanting to play Coachella and asking promotor powerhouse Goldenvoice to make it happen. It might have been a possibility, if they had broke up 10 years ago. 

Saturday was the "nostalgic" night kicked off by an assortment of cover songs by the Head Cat, which is fronted by the one and only Lemmy Kilmister of Motorhead. Alongside the stand up drumming of Slim Jim Phantom (the Stray Cats), the Head Cat ran through such classics  as Dale Hawkins' "Susie Q," Buddy Holly's "Not Fade Away" and Robert Johnson's "Crossroads." The highlight of their set was a rambling version of the Stray Cats' "Rock This Town" with Phantom handling the vocals. It was surprising to actually be able to hear Kilmister's Rickenbacker bass instead of getting bludgeoned with the usual tinnitus-inducing levels that he dials up for Motorhead.

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Andrew Youssef
Buzzcocks performing Saturday
If the Buzzcocks had a dollar for every guitar riff or vocal harmony that was "borrowed" from them, they would be millionaires. Green Day, Bad Religion and countless other bands who have relied on power pop punk tunes owe royalties to the Buzzcocks. Front man Pete Shelley and guitarist Steve Diggle slammed through a lengthy set of gems like "What Do I Get?" "I Believe," "Harmony In My Head," "Ever Fallen In Love" and "Orgasm Addict." They were worth the price of admission alone. 

Wrapping up the British theme of Saturday evening, the Damned showed they still could capitivate audiences led by Dave Vanian and the irrepressible Captain Sensible. Even those mildly familiar with the Damned would have recognized tunes like "Neat Neat Neat"  and "Stretcher Case Baby." The Damned also dedicated their cover of The Stooges "I Feel Alright" to Ron Asheton who they hailed as "the Godfather of Punk Rock." Having spotted Dexter Holland of the Offspring the day before, my suspicions that he may come out for "Smash It Up" were sadly unfulfilled. 

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Andrew Youssef
Face to Face performing Sunday
The pride and joy of Victorville, Face To Face blasted through with a hit-heavy set. Singer/guitarist Trever Keith joked throughout their set, saying they have been cashing in on their reunion for over two years. Keith asked the crowd, "How many of you are old like we are?" which garned a number of cheers and groans. "A-Ok", "Velocity", "Big Choice", "Bill of Goods" and the major KROQ staple "Disconnected" were slashed out in record time. Keith hinted that some new material is in the works as they are scheduled to embark on the Warped Tour this summer.

Clown princes of punk rock NOFX were probably the biggest draw of the whole weekend. The only thing "Fat" about Fat Mike is his basslines, as they had the beers flying into the photo pit at the start of "Linoleum." Their 20-plus set list was cut short due to time constraints but they did manage to play "Leave It Alone," "Don't Call Me White," "Stick In My Eye" and "Eat The Meek." After spotting a Bad Religion banner in the crowd, they proceeded to cover Bad Religion's "We're Only Gonna Die" with a guest vocal spot from Bad Religion's guitarist Greg Hetson. NOFX also managed to lampoon Orange County when they played "Jesusland" and dedicated it to all the "Weird Christians in OC." No one is safe from the venom of NOFX.    

The Crowd: Would you believe their were tattooed people in attendance? I was probably the only person in the event without a tattoo. It was a family affair though, as I spotted a few children in strollers.

Overheard: "Don't look at those!" was overheard from a mother warning her daughter to stop gazing at the Porn Star skateboard shop featuring your favorite adult actress on the deck of a skateboard. 

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