OC Punk Rock Picnic - Oak Canyon Ranch - 4/28/12
If your vehicle was sturdy enough to get you to this year's Punk Rock Picnic at Oak Canyon Ranch (aka the middle of nowhere) -- meaning your car didn't overheat during the uphill slaloms or get stuck in the makeshift loose-dirt road parking lot -- then you experienced what was probably the best Punk Rock Picnic to date.
Thousands showed up for the all-day, early-bird punk rock festival. The crowd included just about everybody in the punk rock pantheon of fans: full-fledged punk rock families complete with mohawked little ones, middle school kids who just heard their first Black Flag song, even old-school veterans with walking canes. The gates opened at 11 a.m. and the first band went up at noon. There were 10 stages with eight bands set to play on each, guys on bikes doing backflips off ramps and a "Punk Dogs" food stand. It was pretty much the place to be for any alternative-minded individual in Southern California.
Tailgating was half the fun. People brought things like homemade lemon Hefeweizens to share, and security was minimal.
The event seemed to be organized a bit better than the years before. For starters, four of the stages were set up in a type of street roundabout fashion, making it way easier to hear your favorite bands if they happened to be playing at the exact freaking time.
As far as bands are concerned, where to start? El Nada, a punk band from Mexicali, rocked on the Old School Stage, as Dirty Filthy Mugs and their Celtic-slanted working class punk did on the same stage later in the evening. On the Redneck Stage, Social Conflict from East Los Angeles gathered a small crowd as they performed their classic "Razorblade Mary." And right beside that stage was MLCH Skate Stage with Battalion of Saints!
An honorable mention goes out to Downtown Brown from Michigan for being the first band to get a breakdancing pit going for their gnarly funk punk songs. Their fans came out to hear them play "Skynet is Real," complete with Terminator's doomsday drumbeat as the beat. They wrapped their set after being heckled for "going way over your set time, man" by The Angry Samoans. They immediately wrapped it up with their outro, a performance of the Home Improvement theme song.