Berserktown II Brings Eclectic Craziness to The Observatory

Priests Perform at Berserktown II. Photo by Scott Feinblatt
Berserktown II
The Observatory

Look out, here comes another themed music festival! Berserktown II (the sequel to last year's Berserktown festival, obviously) brought punks, metalheads, and those who could pass as civilians to The Observatory for three fun filled days of celebrating disenfranchisement. There was no straight uniform for this crowd; for, true punks and fans of old-school industrial music have never really coalesced into a tidy demographic. The name of the game, here, was eclecticism, and the line-up backed that theme up on every level.

As in many festivals, the quality of the musicians tended to increase as the day went on. Naturally, this is not universal -- one can always find charming surprises in the early hours -- but, as I was fairly blind going into this festival [I only knew that the noise rock band Royal Trux was headlining on the day I was available to attend], I didn't have a solid grasp of its ethos. Before long, I pieced it together: these are bands that don't follow anybody's rules and are probably never going to hit the big time. Mind you, this is not a condemnation.

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Skapeche Mode Lead a Glowing Local Roster at Slidebar

Skapeche Mode performs at The Slidebar Rock-N-Roll Kitchen. Photo by Scott Feinblatt
The great thing about seeing local bands perform at a local venue (apart from the likelihood that the concert will be free) is that you really get to weigh the band by its musical and performance merits instead of by its popularity or any major buzz that it may have developed. Even in the case of The Radioactive Chicken Heads and Skapeche Mode, which already have developed enough of a following to pack the back room at The Slidebar Rock-N-Roll Kitchen, in Fullerton, the bands must truly shine in order to cultivate, maintain, and expand their fan bases. On Friday night, Slidebar hosted the aforementioned bands as well as Tiktaalik and MELTED, and each band subsequently showed what they could do given around 30 minutes of stage time.

Tiktaalik performs at The Slidebar Rock-N-Roll Kitchen. Photo by Scott Feinblatt
The first up was Tiktaalik. This high-concept, "post-core," three-piece outfit sounded like the soundtrack of someone who was being chased through a junkyard by wind-up robots. The lyrics were not that clearly discernible, but the guitarist / lead singer's Cobainesque shouting at one point seemed to reveal something about voluntary exile into disenfranchisement. The bassist laid down the solid tracks of this roller coaster ride while the drummer's vicious percussive attacks cleared the roller coaster's path with the relentlessness of a wrecking ball.

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10 Underrated Punk Albums That Should Be Considered Classics

Categories: Punk as Fuck

By: Tom Reardon

It's odd that people who have never met me want to punch me in the throat. Perhaps it's akin to what people like Sean Hannity and Joe Arpaio experience on a daily basis, although I would never want to be compared to them. Luckily, I feel safe in saying there is no comparison. All I've done is tell the story of how my bandmate once hit Danzig and then give my opinion on why a few albums that some people consider classics are really not that great. Again, key words, my opinion.

Anyhow, some of the people who wanted to punch me also suggested I write more positively about albums rather than put anybody down. A few even said I should write about "underrated" albums, and I thought it was a great idea. I'm sure you still might want to punch me, and that is okay. To be honest, there are people I'd like to punch, so I truly understand your frustration. The following albums are in no particular order, so please don't stalk my dog because I put your favorite of these at number four and you think it should be number one, dear reader. Some of them are by well-known bands, too, but I just don't think the records get the recognition they deserve.

So, without further delay, 10 underrated punk albums you should listen to again.

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10 Reasons the Misfits are Still Relevant

Thumbnail image for misfitspic.jpg
So what they only have one original member left? The Misfits are still one of the most important punk bands of all time, and they're at the Observatory for three nights this weekend.

Before you go check them out, here are 10 reasons the Misfits are still relevant.

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See Neil Young's Cinematic Side at Shakey Fest

Promotional Image of Neil Young
Neil Young completists, rock historians, and fans of underground cinema, gather ye round! Something rare and off-kilter is going down, and you're not going to want to miss it. For fifty years, Neil Young has been writing, recording, and performing in numerous genres of music, both as a solo act as well as with various groups; however, while most people can recognize some of his tunes; such as "Cinnamon Girl," "Heart of Gold," and "Ohio;" few are the individuals who are versed in his film catalog. This weekend, the Cinefamily, a Los Angeles nonprofit organization dedicated to promoting the art and community of cinema, will be showcasing a series of films by and about Neil Young.

The series, called Shakey Fest, is named after Bernard Shakey, Young's filmmaking pseudonym, and it features a newly restored director's cut of Human Highway. The new cut of Highway, a post-apocalyptic musical comedy that was shot in 1982 and co-directed with Dean Stockwell, recently premiered at the Toronto International Film Festival. Once Hadrian Belove, the Executive Director and one of the co-founders of Cinefamily, became aware of the restoration, he contacted the film's distributor in the hope of featuring it in a film festival devoted to Shakey's works.

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The Subtitles Resurrect Their Faith in Music and Their Psych/Punk Sound

Categories: Punk as Fuck

Courtesy of Mike Patton
"I'd rather play music than be in charge of school busses," says Mike Patton, the bassist for pioneering hardcore band the Middle Class. The 57-year-old Lake Forest resident had been "completely away" from the music scene for nearly three decades because of his day jobs with the teamsters union in Orange and director of transportation for Capistrano Unified School District for approximately 14 years. However, that changed when the Middle Class reunited in 2011, which reminded Patton that being a musician "is such a better way of spending time."

The Middle Class played sporadically until 2014, but the group's revival came to an abrupt end after cancer claimed the life of guitarist Mike Atta. Knowing their band would "never play again" without Atta, Patton and Matt Simon decided to continue jamming because it was fun, which, perhaps unsurprisingly, is the same reason they teamed with Eddie Joseph in 1979 to complete the "American Society" lineup of Eddie and the Subtitles.

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Cadillac Tramps Offshoot Santos y Sinners Do the Low-Down Dirty Blues

Categories: Punk as Fuck

Courtesy of Brian Coakley
By: Rich Kane

You could hold a pretty great music fest with only bands and solo projects that have connections to the Cadillac Tramps: WaxApples. Flock of Goo Goo. Manic Hispanic. X Members. The Black Diamond Riders. Jonny "Two Bags" Wickersham. Not to mention all the unnamed one-offs and shoulda-beens that never made it past a rehearsal space.

Now tack on another to that fantasy bill: Santos y Sinners, five guys who pump out dirty, primal blues that sounds as if it's been knifed in the face and dragged through several miles of Mississippi red-clay back road. But, you know, in a good way.

The new group make perfect sense, a deeper sonic extension birthed from the Tramps' animated belter Mike "Gabby" Gaborno and guitar slinger Brian Coakley that dive fully into the blues roots their more iconic--yeah, 25-plus years on, we can say "iconic"--band always scrambled their punk rock souls with.

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10 Classic Punk Bands We'd Love to See Reunite

Categories: Punk as Fuck

Minor Threat
For any punk rocker under the age of 35, it's hard to imagine a world where the music and culture were looked down upon by mainstream society. The fact that punks were labeled as outcasts was the driving force behind bands with angst ridden, often politically driven urgency that went into some of the greatest songs ever written. Those bands who were lucky to survive intact with the original line ups through the decades are out there, but so many band members have played musical chairs it can be hard to keep track.  Sadly, most of the break ups and disagreements came over ownership of music, merchandising rights and money. But through it all, when it comes to the music, there is something to be said about the magic chemistry a particular line up of a band can have, that can't be replaced. This is our list of 10 classic punk bands we'd love to see reunite.

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Five Types of Orange County Punks

Categories: Punk as Fuck

Dave Watt
Orange County has long been a hub of American punk rock, serving as the starting point for major bands including The Adolescents and Social Distortion. With so much history nearby, the county understandably is home to a healthy number of self-identified punk rockers. Just who are these people? We went in search of the five most prevalent types of punk lurking along the local beach fronts and on suburban lawns. Here they are.

See also: Seven People You Meet At a Guitar Store

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The Five Best Dead Kennedys Deep Tracks

Dead Kennedys Plastic Surgery Disasters album cover
Every punker worth his or her liberty spikes knows the Dead Kennedys songs "California Uber Alles," "Chemical Warfare," "Too Drunk to Fuck," and "Holiday in Cambodia." However, unlike many other '80s American hardcore groups, the San Francisco-based quartet also has a slew of material that is just as interesting (both musically and lyrically) as the so-called "hits."

But for some reason, these songs don't make it to t-shirts or on the backs of leather jackets. Thanks to this list, which details the five best Dead Kennedys non-hits, perhaps they will. Or, more likely, perhaps the group (guitarist East Bay Ray, bassist Klaus Flouride, drummer D.H. Peligro and singer Skip Greer) will play some of these Friday when they come to the Observatory.

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