My ears are still ringing and I’m still on a natural high from the big Youth Brigade Show at Weber’s Sports Bar in Receda, California Friday night. This is my 2nd time at Weber’s and I have to tell you, this is really a good place to take in a show and they are booking some great punk, rockabilly and psychobilly acts.
The difference between a show put on by Weber’s and one of the rip off shows from Rich Vreede / Black Cat is palpable the moment you walk in the door. The audience is taken care of, bands are treated with respect and they are really booking some grade A talent, like the legendary Youth Brigade plus a really, really talented roster of local LA punk and hardcore bands like The Dips and Soto St., the animated and raucous 2 man crew of It’s Casual , plus the long playing LA staple Killroy, featuring a special appearance by their original lead singer.
When we arrived, the owner of Weber’s, Kervin, a real cool cat and super hospitable guy, walked us upstairs, where Youth Brigade were hanging pre-show and we got a chance to chat with Mark Stern, drummer/vocals of the band.
Mark is the brother of fellow founder, guitarist/lead vocals Shawn Stern, whom I’d met briefly a couple years back in Brooklyn when they were touring & promoting their 25th anniversary DVD “Let Them Know… The Story of Youth Brigade and BYO Records” an excellent documentary and if you haven’t seen it pick up a copy at Amazon HERE or at the BYO Records site. Missed that blog? Check it HERE.
We chatted about Punk Outlaw covering and helping to promote the upcoming big “Punk Rock Bowling” concert in Las Vegas in May (we’ll be there and you should too but if you can’t make it at least you can read about it and see some video here).
I’m also in high hopes of getting YB on tape for an exclusive interview for you guys and for “Punktology… the worldwide influence of punk” in the very near future since we’re all practically neighbors on the west side of LA now. Stay tuned for that.
After conversing with the band, the Punk Outlaw Russian intern duo of Tim & Snik and I took in the music. We missed the first couple of bands while chatting with YB but we did catch the final few songs of Soto St. followed by It’s Casual. Both solid and let me tell you It’s Casual is anything but casual. This two man, reverb and hardcore noise making machine knows how to put on a show. I dug the distortion and crazy fast and powerful drum beats.
When you’re just two guys, you gotta make up for it with a lot of fxx’ng noise and they do. My favorite moment was when the lead singer spits a gooey lugey up in the air and as it hangs off the ceiling above the stage, it slowly, starts a long drip back down. He nonchalantly puts the music on hold while he sets up underneath said lugey and proceeds to wait for it to ever so gradually and down right disgustingly return back into his mouth… with a few added germs and microbes from it’s little trip to the ceiling added in for good measure of course. This was no night for the germophobe like myself. I’ll be having bad dreams about that moment for some time to come.
Next up was Killroy. These guys are no spring chickens and that is what I loved about them. They know what they are doing and the energy was high from song 1 straight through the end of the set. The current lead singer has a powerful, gravely voice that commands the room. He feigned a heart attack early on and I thought “this could be for real”. It wasn’t…or maybe it was and he’s just a really, really tough guy.
The place was full of tough guys BTW. There was a brief fight in the pit. Glasses were broken, people were kicked. Afterwards, one really big bruiser dude at least 220 lbs in a slightly too tight Tiger Army T-shirt tried to pick a fight with one of my Russian interns who weighs all of 140 lbs. Come on dude! #1 Pick on someone your own size and #2 show some fxxing hospitality! Nobody tried to kick my ass when I visited Russia.. I’m so embarrassed. I’d like to apologize on behalf of our country to our Russian guests.. pathetic!
Back to Killroy, heart attack or no, the guys have a big following in LA and for good reason, they put on a hell of a show working the crowd up into a lather waiting for the punk legends to hit the stage.
FINALLY it was time. Our buddies, the legendary Youth Brigade hit the stage. I had already been knocked around like a rag doll trying to get some photos & videos of the opening acts, so I could imagine how crazy it was going to be for Youth Brigade which is probably the most democratic band ever, in terms of letting fans on stage to belt out the songs with them. (Exhibit A – see the video for “I Hate My Life” below).
I instructed my Russian interns/bodyguards (note to self, next time get some bigger interns to be my bodyguards!) to stand behind me so I don’t get whay-layed and bust up the Cannon camera (who knows after the Black Cat-Rich Vreede Rip off if I can afford to replace it you know?). Maybe too tight Tiger Army Tshirt bully guy would like to be an intern for Punk Outlaw?
Fat Mike from NOFX, longtime pals of Youth Brigade but not in attendance Friday night unfortunately, would be proud. I was definitely was going to have a few bruises to show what a good time I had from this show. I just didn’t want a busted up camera as further evidence.
As soon as the show began, Tim & Snik bravely sacrificed their bodies to the cause of democracy and they took the brunt of the blows on their thin and waify like bodies, as I snapped away at the front of the stage. But even the combined heft of Tim & Snik was no match for the rollicking crowd as I eventually sprawled face first for the 2nd time of the evening onto the stage, thankfully with said Cannon safely above my head.
If you think this is useless information like your high school geometry class, it isn’t. By holding the camera out in front, away from your body and above your head, you are able to absorb the blows with some cushion for the camera. How does this benefit you, you ask dear reader? Try this technique when in a crowded room drinking beer. You will only spill it on other people, not yourself.. see, I told you it was useful info. You really should have paid attention better in high school geometry class.
Back to the show. Eventually, the lead guitarist for YB felt sorry for us and invited us up on stage with “relative” safety from the over enthusiastic (is there such a thing) crowd. I say relative because before too long YB was belting out my favorite tune “I Hate My Life” (who can’t relate to that song at some time or another?) as the crowd poured onto the stage and I’m cowering in the corner to the left of Mark Stern’s drum kit, leaving intern Tim, who was running flip-cam duties, to fend for himself. Intern Snik had long ago abandoned the pit and scrambled to the safety of the merch table at the back of the room.
That’s when I had THE MOMENT of clarity. That moment that reminded me why I loved punk music and why, oh why, do I write this blog, travel the planet under often less than ideal conditions videotaping bands and punks for the documentary and spend $ on something I probably will never make a dime at. Why do I get robbed in Argentina (fake taxi driver) and Los Angeles (Rich Vreede – Black Cat Entertainment), simply to pursue what is probably best described as an expensive hobby (and getting more expensive with each subsequent robbery).
From a business perspective, it defies common sense. From a punk lover’s perspective, it makes perfect sense.
I’m on stage with one of the most legendary punk bands still playing today. Terribly influential guys to the entire punk movement. Guys that toured with Social Distortion and Minor Threat in the 80′s on the famous “Another State of Mind” Documentary (a classic must see. Buy it HERE). Guys that started their own record label, BYO Records, in 1982! Talk about DIY, that was not only pre myspace, facebook, twitter, etc that is when that meant literally recording and pressing your own music and selling it out of the back of the van or mailing cassette tapes or vinyl all over the world via snail mail; guys that have literally toured the world; guys that regularly collaborate with the likes of aforementioned Fat Mike of NOFX to organize tours and festivals like the aforementioned “Punk Rock Bowling”.
Guys that despite no visible “mainstream” success (whatever that means these days), are considered punk royalty, yet still are so cool and down to earth that they let a filmmaker/photographer/vlogger/blogger or whatever the hell I am these days jump on stage with them and freely shoot until my heart is content; guys that not only let the crowd pour on stage to sing with them, they actually invite them up and encourage them to sing.
These guys are punk but more than that, these guys are why I love punk music… and these guys, along with cool people hanging at Weber’s Rockabilly Bar (Big Tiger Army Shirt bully dude notwithstanding), have reignited my faith in the fact that most people are indeed good and cool.. most people are not looking to simply make exploit others for personal gain. In a foxhole… well, I wouldn’t want to be in one but if I had to be in one, then I’d want to be with these guys.
There is a sense of community, comradeship and respect for the fans that emanates from Youth Brigade and the Stern brothers. Shawn Stern never flinches when the microphone is suddenly pulled from his hand and a drunken punk butchers his song (usually, but not always, off key).
Mark Stern invites a guy onstage to sing his own version of whatever song he wishes. The guitarist who saved our asses doesn’t get pissed off when the microphone busts him in the mouth because some young, intoxicated fan in her enthusiasm stumbles and projectiles the mic stand sending it straight towards his pearly whites, busting his lip.
This, my friends, is what punk is about. This, my friends, is Youth Brigade at Weber’s and this my friends is how you put on a REAL show! Take note scam artist promoters and take note poser bands. THIS… IS… PUNK!
Enjoy more photos from the Youth Brigade show HERE and enjoy the videos below.
Thanks again to my interns Tim & Snik, the cool crowd, Kervin and the whole crew from Weber’s and especially Youth Brigade.
“SINK WITH KALIFORNIJA”
“I HATE MY LIFE”