The Buzzcocks Kill at Bang! Festival

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The Buzzcocks photo by Scott Feinblatt
Bang! Festival
The Observatory
9/20/14

Over time, the typical arc in the life of rock musicians reveals that they are no less whores than any other type of celebrity. Laziness and age beget compromise, and, of course, money makes people do crazy things. However, Saturday night at the Bang! Music Festival (hosted by The Observatory and sponsored by the Weekly), headlining punk rockers The Buzzcocks proved that they are just as full of piss, vinegar and spit as they were nearly 40 years ago.

Sandwiched between headlining acts Los Lobos and X, the raw punk energy of The Buzzcocks stood out. Each of the headliners was allotted a one hour set, and as soon as The Buzzcocks took to the stage, not a second was wasted. There were literally one to five second intervals between each of their upbeat, high-energy songs -- each of which was played appropriately loud. In fact, from the moment guitarist Steve Diggle slung the first of his guitars and strummed it, he ordered the sound man to increase the volume. It's hard to tell whether he was the culprit or an unheeded voice of reason in the off-balance mix of the first few songs in their set. From the first song, the band established a vigorous momentum, and by about the fourth song, the mix was appropriately adjusted, allowing for the discernment of the delicate timbre of Pete Shelley's voice.


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Stiff Little Fingers' Punk Rock Fire Still Burns

Categories: Punk as Fuck

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Before 1980, punk rock was most associated with three bands of three distinct flavors. There were the Sex Pistols, whose loud, over-the-top shtick revolved around rebellion and vitriol; the Ramones, who trafficked in energetic, lovably dopey pop songs; and the Clash, who carried themselves with the sobriety of community activists, focusing on sociopolitical songwriting and a multi-hued sonic palette.

Feeling invigorated by punk's back-to-basics approach and the sense that he was there for music history, a young Jake Burns helped form Stiff Little Fingers, his own punk band, in 1977. Wanting to pattern SLF after one of that trio, Burns went with the third option, establishing an outfit whose explosiveness and smarts still shine today.

"When I heard the Clash, they were writing about things that actually meant something and doing it with an intelligence," the Chicago-based guitarist/vocalist, 56, says. "Obviously, I know there was an intelligence in what the other bands were doing, it was just they buried it under a cartoon image or some form of provoking hysteria. Seeing and hearing the intelligence of what the Clash did connected to me on a similar level to the Dylans and the Marleys of this world."




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The Last: South Bay's Criminally Underrated Punk Legends

Categories: Punk as Fuck

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Stacie Stevenson
The Last are nothing if not punk rock survivors. The group's seminal album L.A. Explosion! may not have garnered the attention nor accolades that other South Bay outfits received over the years, but it made a lasting impact in shaping the area's musical identity. The ferocity of that sound combined hardcore punk with a splash of surf pop that became the area's calling card, even if others made it more popular. Now 35 years after its release, the band is ready to revisit that album, even its activity has been sporadic at best over the past two decades.

Led by the brother duo of Joe and Mike Nolte, The Last has been through many incarnations over the years. Nicknamed the "Godfather of the South Bay punk scene," Joe Nolte formed the band in 1976 in his family's Hermosa Beach garage. The Last's first shows were at local house parties, which became the blueprint to how many Southern California punk bands hone their craft today. Their South Bay pedigree may not have spread as beyond the area like their contemporaries, but the impact of L.A. Explosion! remains a strong part, and one of the defining records that can still be heard in the local scene.

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Hardcore Legends 7 Seconds Are Still Tearing Up the Stage (and Their Knees)

Categories: Punk as Fuck

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David Robert
"I'll always be proud that we're up there with Minor Threat and Black Flag. As long as people don't expect us to live up to some bullshit legacy," says frontman Kevin Marvelli, a.k.a. Kevin Seconds of hardcore punk pioneers 7 Seconds, who recently released Leave a Light On, their first album in nine years.

Formed in Reno, Nevada, 7 Seconds were part of the vanguard of the hardcore punk explosion in the early '80s. With modern classics such as The Crew and Walk Together, Rock Together, they were a crucial voice on the scene. Seconds proved his commitment to the development of the genre by bringing cutting-edge bands such as Black Flag, Social Distortion, Suicidal Tendencies and Scream to backwater Reno and attracting national underground attention to local bands via his Positive Force record label.

Now, more than 30 years later, 7 Seconds are still going strong, with an expanding fan base here and abroad, and Leave a Light On has been well-received by fans, Seconds says.

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Punk Rock Alive & Well at Fullerton's Comic Book Hideout

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The Radioactive Chicken Heads rock Comic Book Hideout. Photo by Scott Feinblatt
Radioactive Chicken Heads
Comic Book Hideout
8/9/14

Last night, four local bands crowded into the small, warm performance space of Comic Book Hideout, in Fullerton. It was there, in the presence of their friends, families, and curious comic book readers, that they sweated through their respective sets. The environment was not ideal, yet no one complained because everyone was having a great time. The energy that the musicians put into their performances was raw and bombastic, and it resonated through the crowd. It seems like the only thing that could corrupt a scene like this would be financial success.

Though the venue is not generally known as a hot spot for bands (no pun intended), Comic Book Hideout, which the Weekly named Best Comic Book Store in Orange County, regularly hosts performances and events of varying types (including comedy shows, musical performances, and gaming nights). This and the single couch located in the performance area give the venue a very cozy feeling. Add to this space a bunch of musicians bent on tearing its roof off, and there's a recipe for fun.

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Top Five New Bands Playing Punk Rock Bowling

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Melissa Fossum
The 16th annual Punk Rock Bowling and Music Festival in Downtown Las Vegas is fast approaching this weekend. For the uninitiated, it is undoubtedly the best punk rock music festival on the west coast if not all of America.The three-day bacchanal that takes place in in the middle of Las Vegas, complete with free poolside day shows, punk-rock-themed standup comedy and even a few punk rock movie screenings. Of course, this year's lineup is nothing short of epic with headlining acts like Cock Sparrer, Descendents and NOFX.

But you'd be remiss if you decided to skip some of the baby bands playing this thing. Here is a list of the top five newish bands playing the main stage (separate then the club performances after-parties, which are another story) that is. Despite the popular saying, punk rock is still very much alive and kicking in 2014.

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Please Kill Me Author Legs McNeil on His New Book, Music and Chuck Berry

Categories: Punk as Fuck

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Jaime Lees
Legs McNeil at the Chuck Berry statue on Delmar Boulevard
By: Jaime Lees
Legs McNeil became one of my favorite authors when I first read his Please Kill Me: The Uncensored Oral History of Punk as a young teen. Even if you don't own the book, you've undoubtedly seen its ransom-note-styled spine on the bookshelf of your music-loving friend. It's an assertion that's been made by others many times before, but I'll say it here one more time: Please Kill Me is the definitive account of the early New York punk scene. (Trust me, I've read them all.)

But McNeil's pedigree far precedes my birth. He has many professional accomplishments under his belt, but he's probably best known as the cofounder of Punk Magazine, a New York-based pop-culture magazine famous for documenting the CBGB scene in the 1970s. (Through this, McNeil is also frequently credited with popularizing the word "punk" as we know it.)

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Mike Atta, Punk Legend, Passes Away From Cancer

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Josue Rivas/OC Weekly
Mike Atta, R.I.P.
Trailblazing punk guitarist Mike Atta died after a lengthy battle with cancer on Easter Sunday. Atta's band with his brothers Jeff and Bruce, the Middle Class, is often credited with being one of the first hardcore bands ever. The Santa Ana based band was active from 1977 to 1982, but inspired countless hardcore punk bands from OC and beyond for years to come.

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Author Craig Lewis Explains Why Punk Rock is a Haven For the Mentally Unstable

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Max Braverman
Craig Lewis

Many authors speak in front of live audiences in hopes of selling books. Craig Lewis, however, has a different agenda.

The 40-year-old's lecture Saturday night at TKO Records in Huntington Beach will address issues regarding mental health, but in a way many are unfamiliar with. You see, Lewis -- like Sheena -- is a punk rocker.

To the uninformed, punk rock is nothing more than Sid Vicious shooting dope and (allegedly) killing his girlfriend Nancy Spungen, but people actively involved in punk understand the genre is more than a deceased Sex Pistol. The culture's do-it-yourself spirit empowers its followers and allows them to be as expressive and individualistic as they choose. Often, Lewis says, punk's open-door policy welcomes artists, misfits, weirdos and anti-authoritarian types. The scene also becomes a sanctuary for people with mental health issues.

Unfortunately, Lewis -- a certified peer specialist -- says mental health is an issue still not fully addressed in his community, which is why he published Better Days: A Mental Health Recovery Workbook and You're Crazy, a collection of 27 essays by punkers addressing their mental health issues and addiction. It's a sentiment that Lewis understands as he was first placed into a psychiatric home at 14 and later spent a decade getting high. Lewis says he's been drug-and-alcohol -free since 2001 and focuses on having good minutes, good hours and good days, which he attributes to his being "healthy now...for the most part."

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Chicano Batman Love the Challenge of "Latin Psych Soul"

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Jessica Augustine
Chicano Batman
When new, exceptionally talented bands without a previously categorized sound come out, writers all over from Pitchfork to regional publications tend to throw any label at them that will stick, from "coldwave" to "afro-indie." The taxonomy behind music is something journalists and writers spend countless hours hammering away at, but when a band like southern California's Chicano Batman arises, Rialto-raised guitarist Carlos Arevalo has inadvertently discovered the best way to describe his group's relentlessly eclectic sound: a Venn diagram.

"If there was a Venn diagram with Latin and psychedelic soul, that middle ground is where we'd exist," he says.

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