1984 - The Observatory - June 14, 2014

Categories: live review

Alex Distefano
The Observatory

There wasn't as many crowd surfing or stage divers as one would expect with a truly underground hardcore punk line up of this magnitude at the Observatory on Saturday, when Santa Ana was home to a night of pure old school, and at times politically charged fury induced circle pits. Poor Kids Radio presented the show, featuring Dr. Know, Final Conflict, and two original members of Crucifix under the moniker '1984.' By midnight when '1984' performed, the venue was packed, and the live music was all killer no filler, as the band performed the legendary album Dehumanization from its entirety. Known among the underground extreme punk and even metal circle since the band's heyday in the early '80s, Crucifix was a Berkley, CA based hardcore anti-war punk band that merged hints of primitive thrash and hardcore, to spawn a generation of crust, d-beat, power violence and other extreme punk and metal scenes.

Crucifix formed in 1980, and featured numerous lines up changes throughout its career, but still consists of founding members, singer Sothira Pheng, and guitarist Jimmy Crucifix. '1984' also featured Nate on drums, Chris on guitars and Henry on bass.

See also: Members of Legendary Bay Area Band Crucifix Flash Back With 1984

Although it's been three decades, the youngsters and older fans still felt the songs of Crucifix as they were meant to be felt--live, dirty and in your face. The spirit of the band's anarchy punk infused musical philosophy and rage against the status quo felt was alive and well as the band was on fire. Sothira still leaped around stage and took control of the mic and did his best to stay in front of the crowd and in their faces. Thirty years may have passed, but the power and messages against greed, war and exploitation that this album represents still remains nostalgic yet powerful musical force to be reckoned with. Many of the younger fans in the audience were quite eager and aware to experience what their elder punk friends, parents and siblings had experienced decades earlier.

Alex Distefano
Final Conflict

Another underground and revered punk band that helped to bridge create crust punk, d-beat and bridge the gap between the punk and metal undergrounds was Final Conflict, a band that formed in the early '80s out of Long Beach, and the OC. Final Conflict is currently made up of singer Ron Martinez, guitarist Jeff Harp, bassist Warren Renfrow and drummer Nick Manning. Everyone except Manning was the line up that recorded the seminal Ashes to Ashes album from 1988, which the band performed for the Observatory, from first song to last. Things got a bit fuzzy in the pit as more and more bodies shoved their way into the raging circle and slammed hard to the very abrasive, sped up and distorted songs. "I remember a lot of you from the Fender's Ballroom days, and its good to see a lot of faces!" said Ron Martinez to the moshers.

Dark, anti-authoritarian and violent Final Conflict's message was and still is against the government corruption, greed and wars. This is one of the few bands who can play both Punk Rock Bowling, then immediately hit the stage the Maryland Death fest, which Final Conflict did this year. "Fuck all the Tea Party, Republicans, Democrats, they are all the same!" yelled Martinez in a short spastic rant before tearing up the stage flailing all over as Harp, Renfrow and Manning held it down to crank out one of the most intense sets of the night.

Martinez even had to take a quick break to catch his break twice. Despite the decades it has been since Final Conflict formed, the songs are still full of passion rage and urgency. When the band first started and the slamming was barely commencing, Martinez tried to get the crowd to exert more energy and move, "You guys don't start moving an moving things up, I'm going to play the next five songs laying down then wer'e done;" he said trying to incite a circle pit. Final Conflict's set was around half an hour, which was short but intense.

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