Review by Michael O'Donahue
Photography by Rodney Gitzel
Somewhere along the line, punk took a weird turn. Greasy hair, leather jackets and bad attitudes were replaced by crew cuts, big t-shirts featuring funky brand names, band names and cartoon characters, and positive messages. No Future supplanted by Using Your Mind and Educating Yourself. And the parameters of the music were narrowed down to strictly Fast and Punchy.
(I kind of miss greasy hair and bad attitudes, myself -- I never got the impression the Dead Boys were trying to TELL me something -- but maybe I'm just getting old. I'm over 20, you know.)
Anyhow, the Brickyard was packed FULL of snowboarding and SoCal -- modern -- punk enthusiasts for this Nitro Records triple bill plus local boys the Cartels. Said Cartels opened the evening, going on mighty early, so I missed the first half of their set. They bill themselves as "the Undisputed Kingpins of Punk 'n' Roll," which apparently means mixing some twelve-bar blues-rock in with their Old School Punk. Not the most original thing, but originality is a secondary concern -- paramount is Delivering the Goods, which the Cartels DO. They're energetic and snotty enough that I'll definitely be going to see them again.
Guttermouth, Straight Faced and Jughead's Revenge were the show, as far as the bulk of the audience was concerned, and while they were all good enough, I had a hard time distinguishing one from the other; two guitars, bass, drums and frontman was the standard format, and everything was, of course, Fast and Punchy.
Jughead's Revenge follow the Bad Religion punk rock template, with less intellectualizing and more suburban frat-boy party vibe. When the jocks at your high school drop their footballs, pick up skateboards and get into NOFX, the band they start sounds a lot like Jughead's Revenge.
Straight Faced were a bit more "mature," with relaxed stage banter and a high-fiving rapport with the crowd. Their singer stood out more than the others because of his annoying voice and droopy drawers, and the band was also a bit heavier than the others, with a touch of Rage Against the Machine in their riffage. My impression of them, however, was tainted early by the sight of the bass player blowing snot out his nose and spitting all over the stage. How PUNK.
Guttermouth were more Bad Religion-y and less distinctive than Straight Faced, being without the Rage-ing riffs and scratchy, snotty vocals. Although they were the headliners and best-known band on the bill, not much about Guttermouth stood out -- even when the singer took his pants off. They were Southern California Straight, and strictly by the Book. If that's the scene you're into then you love them, but to those outside of suburban 'board culture they just sound like the rest.
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