I’m heading to the land of grunge with a 3 day trip to Portland/Seattle and yes, I’m taking the camera… so stay tuned. Word is there is still a pretty damned healthy punk scene still kicking around those parts. We hope to find out.
In the meantime, we’ll see you at our buddies at Torino Lounge down in Paramount, just next door to Compton so maybe Ice-T will show up! He’s part Irish right?
If that doesn’t float your boat well the Adicts are in town so here are some other things going on the city of Angels this weekend and beyond courtesy of PunkRockers.com
Punk Shows in SO CALI
THIS SUNDAY March 17th the Adicts at the House of Blues of Anaheim!
Here are some amazing ALL AGES shows coming up at the VEX in Los Angeles
5240 Alhambra Ave
Los Angeles, CA 90032
Toll Free # 1-800-660-9015
April 18, One Way System , The Briggs, DI. 13$,
July 14 Black Flag
June 8, Full 8 FEST. Dickies , Agent Orange , Narcoleptic Youth, Evacuate , 8kalacas , Red Store Bums, South Central Skankers, Nino Zombie
Generally, I’m not a St. Patrick’s Day guy. Drunken idiots roaming the streets of NYC cured me of that long ago. Any travelers ever notice how the U.S. seems to infect each culture or ethnic group with that falling down du
Bonjur! Check out this exclusive interview with Thomas (Drummer) from Paris, France’s legendary “Burning Heads”. Burning Heads was on the Epitaph label and has actually toured the U.S. and have been around since the 1980s and still going strong.
Thomas discusses the French punk scene, why the French seem to protest so much and about the seemingly symbiotic relationship between punk and reggae music. Big ups to Snik, our Moscow intern for editing this and for the help from Street Poison,Carnage Punk and The Decline as well.
MADRID SPAIN: Back! Back in the U.S. on the east coast where I forced myself to stay up almost 24 hours straight and go to bed at 12 midnight NYC time. Big mistake. Now I’m up before the sun at 5AM or 1PM Spain/France time, so that is like sleeping in, except the math doesn’t add up to anywhere near 8 hours baby Rob likes to get. The older I get the more sleep I crave. The uglier, the more beauty sleep required to just look in the mirror.
I’ve calculated that I will have unpacked at least 8 different times on this journey. I haven’t worn clean underwear in days. Though I’ve tried to watch my budget by taking trains, metros and buses instead of taxis and using AIRBNB most of the time instead of hotels, I’ve spent quiet a bit of money.
Traveling is not as glamorous as you may thing sometimes, but totally worth it. And regardless of whether I ever return to France or Spain again (I certainly plan too, quickly, but you never know in this world, what surprises, good or bad, lurk around the corner), I will never think of those places the same. I am forever changed, as I always am after each journey, regardless of the destination.
Punk music invisible in downtown Madrid?
And lest your opinion of me be forever changed, that crack about the dirty underwear? Just kidding and making sure you were paying attention. Though I will admit there may have been a rare time I’ve gone a day or two without (commando I believe is the term) perhaps, because laundry did not get done. OK, we may need to rename this post TMI (Too Much Information… that’s English language slang amigos).
Lets get to the nitty gritty (also slang for the “real” stuff).
I was visiting Madrid, Spain for a grand total of 15 hours. Hardly time to get my pea sized brain wrapped around anything, much less the punk scene there. But I will say I packed a lot into my little bit of time there.
I hooked up with an old school chum I hadn’t seen since college and that my friends was a long time ago. His name is Hassan (yes, he is of Lebanese descent), he now lives in Dubai and he has relations in Madrid. He saw I was in town via Facebook and we got together and had some great food, good beer and rehashed some old times, but mostly talked world politics, travel and culture our now mutual interest.
It’s funny, when Hassan last knew me I hadn’t owned a passport and had never even been on a plane and had probably traveled to a grand total of 6 or 7 states, all in the general vicinity of Tennessee. I don’t remember ever being at a loss for words with Hassan in college, but we seemed to have plenty to speak of on this go around.Travel gives a person lots to talk about and certainly changes their world view. Hassan showed up wearing a Ramones shirt so music was also on the conversational agenda.
But before I met Hassan, I had fired up the camera and walked around downtown Madrid, poking around, seeing if I could get a sense of the city in the few waking hours I had. Not sure if I succeeded but I did meet a young punk rocker, Kevin from Boston, Mass (USA), just hanging out on a street corner.
Madrid protesters… but not into punk
Kevin was unmistakably GBH Style punk with combat boots and a black leather jacket with punk band buttons from bands like Discharge and a few others. He was cool and has been living in Spain for a while, while his girlfriend studies in Madrid.
He had just returned from Barcelona where he said the punk scene was much bigger than Madrid. This surprised me but what do I know? I was in Barcelona in 2007 and met some psychobilly chaps who were quiet cool but all in all, I dig Madrid more than Barcelona as a travel destination. Kevin did say that Psychobilly was big in Madrid and gave me some names of some local bands to check out my next time in.
Next up I saw a group of 5 of the oddest, weirdest looking punks I think I’ve ever seen. They were impossible to miss. One of the old guys (probably 50 something, looked 60 something) was bald but had a long white ony tail and a confederate flag sewn into the back of his black leather jacket with Lynard Skynard patches all over and tight black jeans and boots. At first, I thought he was a redneck biker from the U.S.
One other guy looked like Jack Sparrow from Pirates of the Caribbean and he talked a bit like him too. Most of the girls were younger but none of them were interested in speaking to me much about the punk scene. They were drunk, smoking and having a good time and I was some American tourist ruining it.
Jack Sparrow dude was indeed British, very, very British and the others seemed Spanish and I still never got the skinny on the literally very, very skinny Mr. Lynard Skynard. Maybe I should have told him I grew up in Southern Tennessee, just a few miles north and very near “Sweet Home Alabama”. To this day, I still don’t find Alabama so sweet.
I got the brush off and was too chicken to get photos of this motley crew. Damned zoom lens was at home too. But if I had, oh man, it would have been one for the ages.
I’ve never seen such a picturesque crew that just by the look of them, would inspire all kinds of fear, loathing and disgust from the masses walking by. For good or for bad, right or wrong (and we all know it’s wrong) they are the generic but colorful image that springs up in most people’s mind when they hear the words “punk music”.
Mariachi punk? Nah, but anyone can jump on stage & sing
And finally, as if to prove to you that I uncover all angles when I visit a new place, Madrid is full of protests, especially now. I ran into these young students who apparently were protesting Spain’s efforts to privatize education. But alas, they were not punk at all. Their music of choice, the dreaded “E” word, “Electronica” which has been the rage in Europe for at least 25-30 years now and has finally cursed the states. They told me most lovers of punk resided in the barrios outside of the city and that sounds pretty true to form in many places, where the downtown area is actually the nice area. As in most cities, there were Hip Hop wannabee thugs roaming the streets trying to look tough but coming off like cartoon copycats as always.
SIDE NOTE: In NYC I forgot about how many of these poor tasteless clowns exist, but in NYC you will listen to Hip Hop whether you like it or not. At least in Europe I have a choice to turn away. Alas a post for another day.
So not much to tell you about punk music in Madrid other than, of course, it’s there. And I really dug Madrid. So never fear, if things work out, I’ll for sure be back in Madrid and other parts of Spain to give a better report.
Rebel A**holes of Paris
Now in the meantime, I had promised you a bit more music from the Paris Punk show I attended. I, being a man of my word, have delivered.
Paris, France.. “City of Love”, the Eiffel Tower, great food and bla, bla, bla so many other things there is no use in listing them. Needless to say it’s one of the world’s most famous cities and for many good reasons.
Fresh from my time in Cannes where (no I was not lounging by the beach or out in my yacht in the French Riviera), I spent what little sleeping time I had in an overpriced but adequate studio apartment that was clean, had wi-fi and most importantly was within walking distance of my primary reason to be there in the first place, the MIPCOM TV convention where I was chasing down networks to meet with.
Meetings went well by the way. One way or another, no matter where you live, I think you can expect Raw Travelon a TV near you by 2013 or 2014 tops. When it does you can say “wow, that only took 3.5 years”. Tough being independent in a sea of media giants folks.
Cannes.. charming but not very punk rock
Cannes was cool. I liked it much better than I expected, given it’s reputation as a luxurious retreat catering to the world’s elite wealthy and famous. Cannes also had a real side, a nice and friendly side that was charming as well and that is the part I fell in love with. In hopes we’ll be back with the show, I shot some video for Raw Travel and photos that you can check outHERE
But the closest thing to punk I witnessed was a lone tourist, by the looks of things a bloke from Britain, strolling the Croisette in a Descendants T-shirt. Normally I’d have hopscotched over to the guy and asked him a few questions to see if I could get the 411 but in this case, I was busy chomping down on a cheap but delicious Quiche Lorraine and to be honest, knew it was a moot point. Too many faux hawks in Cannes for there to be anything but Hip Hop and Electronica.
Terez with Jules from Carnage Punk Records
For the punk scene in France, may as well just skip to the chase and get straight to Paris, where there is not only a rich punk history, but also a healthy scene currently as well.
I mean France makes complete sense for a thriving punk scene. Protests, revolutions, an independent way of doing things…. it all just kind of fits and it’s a city I liked within 10 minutes of landing.
When I finally arrived in Paris, being the budget traveler and having my budget pummeled ever so slightly in Cannes, I took the train ($10 Euros about $12.50 U.S.) to another adequately clean and furnished studio apartment that I heard is in the “red light district”, however have seen no evidence to back that up (nor have I been looking for any by the way).
What I have seen in this neighborhood are a ton of Gyro shops (I’ve had 2 already!) in what appears to be a very immigrant and diverse community, in other words, the type of place I dig. Last night as I dozed I heard some guy singing what sounded to be a tune from Africa. Lots of color here, like NYC, which is maybe why I like it so much.
Unlike Cannes which was unusually warm, it’s chilly and damp here and I’m under dressed, so first thing I did after arriving to the apartment was went out and bought a 5 Euro (about $7 U.S.) flannel shirt that will be worn the entire time here (only 2.5 days).
Figuring out the Paris subway system was fairly easy. The ticket machines have an option in English and a ride is like $1.70 Euro (a little over $2 U.S.) Getting in the insanely overcrowded thing (on a Saturday night no less) was another. I thought NYC was bad? This felt like Moscow all over again.
Forget a taxi. Super expensive, I’m allergic to rip offs and as soon as I say “Parlez-Vous Anglais” (do you speak English, I have a feeling it would be all over). Besides, traffic was at a complete standstill (training back to the airport during Rush Hour Monday morning with luggage in tow should be interesting).
In the pit.
Finding the venue, Centro Muscial Barbarawas easier than I thought. I just asked a kind and local bartender near the metro stop. (It’s bizarre that opposite of what I’d always been told, most people are very, very accommodating and go out of their way to be kind to non French speakers. Perhaps it’s my puppy dog eyes that I flash that gets them?)
Happily I made it there in time to see the 2nd half of “The Decline” who were opening the show. I saw all three bands and was thoroughly impressed by each. The Decline reminded me of a bit of Irish influenced punk rock with an acoustic song or two punctuating their sets and their poetic lyrics. Maybe even a little Social Distortion?
“The Rebel Assholes” reminded me just a bit of the U.S. band The Queers or Pennywise, NOFX or even Anti-Flag with their melodic, fast paced songs and heavy, rockin’ bass solos.
Then the Burning Heads opened with a slow tempo reggae rhythm and I knew I wasn’t far from Clash territory (or at least 5,000 miles or so closer than I am in California). Burning Heads (and all the bands actually) sang in English while addressing the crowd in French. I think I even heard a “gracias” or two from Burning Heads.
When I asked Street Poison they said they too sing in English. So much for the “French Only” stereotype we North Americans have been told over and over since our youth. Either France has changed (multi-lingual announcements in the airport and subway), or we were told a big, fat lie. Probably a bit of both.
In between the sets, I was able to talk to a few of the Paris punk fans, which was a healthy mix of guys and gals of all ages and like Paris itself, ethnic groups. Jules from Street Poison was celebrating his birthday and in addition to band mate Samy, his mum and his younger brother were out, helping make the whole thing a nice family affair.
I met Terez, a young female lighting designer sporting an Adolescents patch (she did the lighting for tonight’s show as well as for the Adolescents when they were in town) and a sleeve full of tattoos. Her husband Benjo, a local tattoo artist at his store Benjo San Tattoo, chatted a bit about music and how tattoos are becoming more accepted in French society.
Benjo introduced me to one of his friends/clients who was heavily tatted up and shared my love for Social Distortion which Benjo and company had seen play when they visited Paris in 2010. If you visit Paris and you want to get a tat from a real, authentic punk then Benjo is your guy. Visit his shop’s websites HERE and HERE.
In the crowd I saw a pretty much average punk crowd that you’d see most anywhere. There were Black Flag, Bad Religion & Madball shirts, plenty of “Scally caps”but no real street punk mohawks or anything.
I did notice a chap (have you noticed my British style speak? Wait til you hear my new accent! Madonna’s gonna be pissed) sporting a scarf around his neck Hollywood Director style. That occasional sighting and the French most people were speaking was my only real reminder that I was in Paris and not NYC. The pit was not overly rowdy and I was able to sidle my way up front and take photos and videos pretty much without any worry of being creamed.
You ought to see all the photos form the Paris Punk Show so check them out HEREand be sure and tune back in later for video from all the bands from Saturday’s Paris Punk Show, our exclusive interview with Street Poison and our online interview with the Lipstick Vibrators who unfortunately were touring the north country and we were unable to hook up with in person.
In short, even though our stay in France is coming to an end, our coverage is just beginning (that’s the way it works), so be sure and check back often. Now, I’m off to get a Croissant, a Baguette or something French sounding to eat.
Try not to be jealous. It’s really not a good look on you.
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I finally got to catch Los Creepers (I have some of their music on the ipod) but I’m really pissed I missed 35 Black when I arrived late and only caught their final song. It seems I’m always just missing 35 Black as the same thing happened at Punk Rock Picnic earlier this summer.
Also my apologies for missing Sin Alley’s set altogether (yes, I’ll admit it, I was in the bar next door). After sampling their music on myspace page, it was indeed my loss. I will try to catch you guys at the next one for sure.
Here are some pics from the event and if you want to see the full set, be sure and visit the set on our FLIKR PAGE HERE.
Here’s a little video of Los Creepers from the show.
and our buddies Normandie Blue performing “Amazing Disgrace” from their cd “It Is What It Is”
Romania, land of Dracula, vampires, werewolves and Vlad the Impaler. Also, land of “punk music?”…. Yes, well lets just say, it’s getting there.
Not that long ago, Romania was a communist country where a pair of jeans could be traded for almost anything. Punk music was outlawed and just getting your hands on some rock-n-roll meant some serious under-the-table bartering. If you were a guy with long hair, the police could arrest you, give you a nice, short state-approved hair cut and then, maybe after a fine or stern lecture, they let you go… sans long hair of course. No hippies or individualism allowed.
Everyday Romanian Architecture.. Spooky Right?.. buwha, ha..haa, hahh,hahhh!!!! (is that how it goes?)
Maybe that’s why of all the places I visited, it seemed in Bucharest, Romania I saw more male ponytails per capita than any other place, even some in the punk scene were sporting them. You know what, I get it. It’s the ultimate form of rebellion for a society where there was never a hippie movement or flower power or any of that stuff.
I decided against a 14 hour train trip with a sleeper car to Bucharest, Romania from Belgrade, Serbia partly out of my spoiled sense of comfort, partly because I found a really good last minute airfare and partly out of the fact this would be the only way I’d get to Bucharest in time to cover the Summer of Punk IV concert at the famed Underworld Club featuring “Just Another Lie”,“Nuggers”, “Raizing Hell” and Argentina band “The Argies”. (Big thanks to Casian, a punk promoter in nearby Timisoara who filled me in on the event and to Ati from Silvershine in Budapest for referring Casian).
Underworld has an upstairs bar and terrace cranking rock tunes and a downstairs underground live music venue in the basement with a stage and state of the art sound system. It has become THE go to place for any type of underground music the last few years it’s been open and for good reason.
Underworld is owned and run by Gabby, the former sound guy for many years at the famed NYC punk club CBGB’s up until it’s final years and lead singer of the legendary NYC hardcore / punk band (and one of my personal new favorite “old” bands) “Molotov Cocktail”.
(DIY Certified) Gabby working the sound & lights @ Underworld
Underworld quite fittingly is a DIY club and when I first met Gabby he was too busy doing sound check and getting ready for the show to speak to me. But later in the week, when things had calmed down a hair, I finally got a chance to sit down with Gabby and get his impression of the punk scene in Romania which he described as slightly confused and small but making strides.
I got that sense too. Not quiet like a toddler making it’s first tentative steps, more like an adolescent going through puberty and figuring out if it should shave or grow that faint mustache. There are classic Romanian bands like Zob, which are Green Day-ish and have been around since the late 80s communism was losing it’s grip. Like Green Day, Zob inspires debate about whether they are “punk enough” or not.
For Gabby, there is no such debate. He is perhaps the epitome of punk. My man has run around with GG Allinand other legends of punk while growing up in the “2nd wave” of NYC punk. Gabby is a fascinating character and I could have talked to him all day, but he’s quiet a busy chap.
Gabby escaped communist Romania with his parents as a child and eventually moved to NYC’s lower east side where he spent most all of his adult life, spending some time in C Squat in Alphabet city. He moved back to Romania in 2010 because he said he needed a change but he’s been associated with Underworld since day 1, even before moving back.
Gabby still gets back to NYC and we both be-moaned the scattered punk scene there thanks in part to the closing of places like CBGBs, but he keeps his fingers on the pulse of the punk & hardcore scene with his buds Agnostic Front, Murphy’s Law and of course his pals in Molotov Cocktail (who are celebrating over 20 years together and getting ready to drop a 20 year anniversary CD).
Raizing Hell before the show
On this sweltering Romanian Saturday night, Summer of Punk IV was set to begin at 8pm and I arrived a little early so I could interview a couple of the bands recommended by Casian (turns out concerts here start more or less on time… go figure).
My first interview was with “Raizing Hell” a self described horror punk band somewhat new on the scene (2010). They cite a variety of influences including Motorhead, Misfits, Plasmatics plus some in the psychobilly genre like Horrorpops, Meteors and Demented Are Go as well as any horror b-movies as obvious influences.
The band is fronted by Liv Decay (vocals/guitar), a talented and eloquent fearless female (yet another in Eastern Europe!) and bandmates Vlad (guitar, backing vocals), Vlash (bass guitar,backing vocals) and Oly “Sinnister” Sinn – (drums).
The guys filled me in on what it was like to grow up in communist Romania compared to a Romania that has embraced capitalism today. My favorite quote was from Oly that went something like and I’m paraphrasing here “I’m glad to live in a democracy, even a fake democracy is better than a communist Romania where I couldn’t wear jeans or long hair”. When Oly mentions “fake democracy” he was referring to the rampant corruption and political strife in Romanian politics that I can’t even begin to touch on, so I won’t.
The guys indicated their lyrics, similar to psychobilly, don’t focus on government corruption (which they readily admitted could be scarier than a vampire… hmmm, I’ll resist the temptation at a ‘sucking’ reference here) or social issues, but they do focus on “other things that scare people”. You know things that go bump in the night. This seems fitting given were in the land of Dracula tales, monsters, werewolves, zombies and the sort.
Of course one of the “technical” things that separate “horror punk” from Phsychobilly is the fact that “Raizing Hell” doesn’t play with a stand up bass, which is maybe why Raizing Hell’s set felt like a good old fashioned punk show or if you’ve ever taken in a Rob Zombie show without the pyrotechnics.
I got the sense that while Raizing Hell dances on the fringes of pyschobilly, I felt I was watching an old fashioned, straight up rock-n-roll band at work. Raizing Hell sings in English which they said felt exposed them to bigger audiences outside of Romania (English is pretty much the international language of Eastern Europe and how many communicate between countries as close in proximity, but divergent as say, Hungary and Romania) and allows easier access to touring in other countries.
“Just Another Lie”
While Raizing Hell typically avoid overt socially conscious themes, this was made up for by a band that seemed a mix between NOFX and the Me First and the Gimme Gimme’s, “Just Another Lie”. These very likable guys came out in full beach gear, complete with life vest, swim trunks and flip flops (it was hot as hell in Bucharest by the way).
JAL sing in Romanian which I later found out in our interview after the show, was because they felt this was the best way to communicate their subtle messages to the Romanian people. That and humor of course. One of their themes for example was tolerance and gay rights and rather than preach in some heavy way for people in Romania to be more tolerant, they feel humor and a light touch is more effective. I agree.
Now because my Romanian is nil, I didn’t get a chance to really decipher their lyrics, but I can tell you they play both slow (with a reggae/ska-ish rhythm and influence) AND fast (with a Blink 182ish or NOFX) sound with the bass guitar thumping loudly and aggressively.
I think they are right. Humor is a much more powerful tool to get messages across. Just ask NOFX, it’s worked pretty well for them. I mean I like it all, the screaming for justice approach of Anti-Flag and my good buddies from Trinidad, Anti-Everything, but there are many ways to get an intelligent point across and band members George (vocals/guitar), Marius (bass/backing vocals/drinking/faping & other useless shit), Cretzu (drums) are poised to get several of them across. George is an on air radio guy for his day job and they all have the intelligence, talent and personalities to make it happen.
And let me tell you, like in many countries they have their work cut out. I had an impromptu conversation with a “philosopher” in a Romanian subway who didn’t like Obama because he was black (though he had nothing against black people) and a Freemason (what?!), and said the Jews (though he had nothing against the Jews either) caused the global financial meltdown.
I politely suggested he research a bit more before jumping to such strong opinions and we parted ways, but I remember thinking how ignorance, willful ignorance at that, is a worldwide phenomena, not just limited to my own home country the U.S. which I so often rave about here.
I digress (as I often do). In all of my interviews in Romania and Eastern Europe, the ones with Gabby, Raizing Hell and Just Another Lie were some of the best I’ve ever conducted. They provided fascinating insights into Romanian life before and after communism and while the punk scene is definitely not big, at least in Bucharest, the bands and venues repping the scene are doing a splendid job of nurturing it.
I heard the cradle of the scene was in nearby Timisoara which might be explained by the fact that it is closer to the border with Serbia, which enjoyed more freedom back in communist days (hence more jeans and music.. and maybe even more long hair) than Bucharest. Probably not coincidentally, Timasoara is also where the Romanian revolution began to overthrow communism, so who knows what punk’s underlying influence can be on Romanian’s modern day “fake democracy”.
I didn’t get to interview the other two bands of the evening but a quick thought about the local garage, punk band “Nuggers”. The singer conversed in Spanish, English and Romanian so I knew it was a band with a lot of geographical influences (a band after my own heart) and their music reflected this as well. They played a very diverse set list of different kinds of music. Their more up- tempo punk songs really resonated with me and their very enthusiastic crowd. Like many of the bands on this evening they have only been together a short while, so keep your eyes and ears peeled for the Nuggers and give them a listen if you can. (Couldn’t find any links guys… sorry).
On the opposite end of the spectrum in terms of longetivity are “The Argies” which have been playing since 1984. They’ve got out a bunch of CDs and just to be able to visit Eastern Europe all the way from Argentina points to their ability to organize such a tour and their seasoned status.
Because they are from Argentina (the land of protest and strikes… often for good reason I might add), their songs are tinged with political and social themes (their shirts were emblazoned with the slogan “Know Your Rights”) and their influences stem from 70′s British punk.
By the time they played, it was pretty late and the crowd had thinned slightly but the Argies played a long set that would have put Springsteen to shame. They even did a rocking version of the Spanish classic “One Guantanamera” as a punk rock diddy! It sounded damn good!
What’s a punk show without enthusiastic fans?!
The only down side, and it really was a funny side, at least to me observing was one overly intoxicated fan who insisted on being on stage, moving the microphone stand, sticking his enthusiastic index finger in the singer’s face and in general making a drunken nuisance of himself to the band. That’s when Liv from “Raizing Hell” kicked into gear with an apparent mission to try and help save her fellow musicians from this hard-to- deal-with task and preoccupied the intoxicated gent with some good old fashioned slam dancing in a makeshift wrecking pit. It worked…for about 3 minutes then he was at it again, but all in good fun, nobody lost their temper (this was a punk show no doubt) and all in all the Argies and the venue handled it as you’d expect.. heckle him a bit, but in the end live and let live and do the best you can for the show must go on.
Doini & Dan @ Bestfest
The next night I was faced with a dilemma as I often am when traveling: 1) be a tourist and hit the final night of the BestFest, Bucharest’s BIG 3 day music festival or 2) be a true punk and head back to Underworld for punk/folk treat from Joey Briggs, of The Briggs, who was rolling through town. Man at times like these I sure wish there were two of me.
My new Romanian buddy Dan who rented me his apartment where I was staying (about a 15 minute walk from Underworld) is THE man in Romania when it comes to nightlife with his web site Bucharest Tonight and he graciously offered to take me to BestFest and even secured a heavily discounted ticket for me.
Ummmm.. Romanian Sausages (Mici)!
In the end, I decided it was best to see a music festival while traveling Eastern Europe. I had so many near misses (I missed the famous Exit Festival in Novi Sad, Serbia by less than a week), and I thought it would be a shame not to hit at least one.
So Dan and his girlfriend Doini (who is from Transylvania but not scary at all, in fact she’s quiet lovely) picked me up in a taxi and we headed to the outskirts of town for the festival. There were multiple stages with all types of music and almost none of it punk. We had just missed the only punkish style of music on the docket that night, a band called Pipes and Pintswhich combines punk with bagpipes… a natural fusion if I ever heard one!
There were PLENTY of metal and hardcore acts, most of which I’d never heard of, but I did enjoy opening myself up to a new kind of experience and especially enjoyed the Romanian Mici, a classic meat sausage and grilled treat.
So my first time in Romania wasn’t so spooky. No elderly gypsy lady put a curse on me (that’s an old stereotype by the way… but one perhaps based on a kernel of truth), no one asked to suck my blood, or to suck anything for that matter.. (well, I don’t count the street walker in front of my apartment my 1st night. She asked in Romanian, at least I think that is what she said. I declined in English)… no robberies or near robberies, no edge of your seat thrills or exciting stories to tell… just a good, punk show at a good punk venue, with some cool people in a country that’s trying to change and evolve and move into the 21st century with it’s very, very old soul in tact.
Thanks Romania. I don’t care what Anthony Bourdain says I think your pretty cool! I can’t wait to go back.
NEXT UP: We head to Ukraine. And we’ll try to post some more videos from Summer of Punk IV as well. If you want to see more pics from our Romanian adventure click HERE.
As I write this I’m rolling through Serbia on a slow moving train headed to Belgrade. My cabin mates speak a strange (to me) language I can’t begin to understand. It’s hot and I don’t remember sweating so profusely while sitting still in a long time. Rolling by is an intermittent landscape of beautiful greenery as far as the eyes can see followed by small, sleepy villages with people riding bicycles, I get the feeling for more for transportation than recreation.
My mind turns back to Budapest and how “1st world” it seems by comparison. It’s an 8 hour or so train ride and I haven’t eaten since this morning, I’ve seen the only 2 movies I can possibly watch on my laptop and I just can’t read any more books or magazines. I think back to the Kill-Billy show in Budapest and of the bloody good time we had.
It was a hot, humid Friday night in Budapest and time for the big Kill-Billy Psychobilly show. After my interview with punk stalwarts “Bankrupt”it was time to take in some Psychobilly music and hopefully interview the legends in the scene, Gorilla.
The venue was big, with multiple concert halls under one roof and an outdoor beer garden for the smokers. If you’ve ever been to Webster Hall in NYC, it was sort of something like that, with different shows going on at the same time. I heard a hardcore show was going on next door but never got the chance to check it out.
The guys from Horibillieshad graciously put me on the guest list. Rocco from “Bankrupt” wanted to show his support for the bands and helped me navigate my way in so that we both could take in the Horibillies sound check. My first impression was that the the crowd was going to be light, but by the time the Horibillies took the stage officially around 8:15 PM (20:15 Budapest time) the place was beginning to fill up with a variety of punks, psychobilly and other rabid fans.
Horibillies got the crowd properly worked up like any first band should but often don’t. By the end of their set people were cheering for more. Most of their songs seemed to be in English (a theme that would be repeated with most of the bands this night) and my favorites was the song “All Night Long” that I had the chance to preview during sound check.
Best I could tell included the lyrics “I like to go out drinking all night long.. all night long… all night long”. Ho-Ri, the lead singer put so much energy into belting out “all night long” it was impossible not to tap your foot (or more appendages) to it. Ho Ri, Papp (guitar), Smid (drums) and Fabian (bass), put the billy in this music. Ho Ri was moving and dancing and taking advantage of having nothing but the microphone. He bobbed his head and moved to the fast rocking beat so much that it was impossible not to get caught up in the frenzy. I think once he did a little Hungarian/Hillbilly jig that would have been at home on the movie set if “Brother Where Art Thou”.
After their raucous set, we went backstage and the guys were riled up and ready to “drink all night long” shoving a big beer (does anyone drink small ones anywhere but the U.S.?) in my hand and insisting a take a swig of their (homemade?) liquor before we got down to the business of the interview. Their English was not the best, so for the first time this trip, I used an interpreter, who happened to be one of their good buddies along for the ride. But somehow, and I’m not sure how this happened, it felt I actually thought I understood their answers? Could my Hungarian, of which I have yet to even master “köszönöm” (thank you!) somehow, magically be getting better? Nahhh.. must have been the Hungarian liquor.
Next up was Silvershineand I admit I was not prepared for the punk sounding fury that emanated from these guys. Silvershine consist of a talented drummer, very cool guitarist/lead singer (Ati Edge) and a pretty, petite and shy female stand up bass player (Krista Kat). Krista Kat is shy that is until she’s on stage and let it rip and man did she let that bass thump! You can’t help but think how such a petite girl can completely own a big instrument like the stand up bass, but she does. Krista Kat is not afraid to throw the bass over her head and around the stage and show it who’s boss.
When Silvershine came on I immediately got the feeling I was witnessing something more than your average Psychobilly band. Their range of sound was unique and to be honest, it felt more like a punk band that happened to have a kick ass stand up bass player. In fact, in our interview backstage before the show, the guys said they considered themselves more punk than Psychobilly, with many of their influences firmly set in the punk genre.
After seeing their incredible set which built to a point where I thought the room would explode, I’m a believer in Silvershine. I distinctly remember realizing somewhere in the middle of the Silvershine show that I am the luckiest guy in the world traveling the planet and documenting the punk scene in a place as cool as Budapest, Hungary.
By the time they hit their big finale, the crowd with me included, were in such a frenzy I could barely get off a decent photo. The pit was in full swing and things were getting interesting. The girls, weren’t afraid to mix it up in the crowd and best I could tell were shown no preferential treatment.
Next it was time for the ORIGINAL Psychobilly band in all of Hungary, Gorilla (don’t get it twisted this is not “Gorillaz”). The brothers Pete (guitar/vocals) and Tom (Stand up bass) Gorilla and Tubush (Drummer) are super tight musicians. You could tell these guys had played together for 20 years. You could also tell that Pete and Tom are brothers. They look like brothers, they act like brothers and needed no communication between them other than their music.
Before the show, the pit and crowd had taken on a new dimension, which meant still fired up but consisting of (mostly) different faces and wearing their Gorilla T shirts. The pit, while not exactly a dangerous place, was the kind of place that you might want to avoid if the sight of blood made you queasy. Yes, I have been in dozens of pits across the world and this is the first time I recall several people actually bleeding and you know what… it’s way more fun than it sounds.
After a masterfully executed set, Gorilla finally played their last encore for the rabid crowd and I was able to catch up with them in the beer garden where they graciously filled me in on the beginnings of the Psychobilly scene in Hungary and other parts of Eastern Europe. These guys are pioneers and it shows in their music and in their knowledge of the Psychobilly music scene worldwide.
I’ve posted some photos from the night in the post and if you want to see the full set from our trip to Hungary go HERE.
I will have video from the respective band that played Killing-Billy up real soon, so stay tuned.
I’ve now, finally, arrived in Belgrade and I need to try and figure out how to get from the train station to the apartment I rented. Taxis are a rip off from the station I’ve heard, so I’ve got to figure something out. Wish me luck!
Ever had that vague craving you just can’t put finger on? Well Saturday, I think I figured mine out. I needed some live punk music and fellowship and the Punk Rock Picnicwas serving it up in huge, tasty portions. This, my friends, is why I came to the West Coast.
The setting was in the heart of West Coast punk… deep inside Orange County at the Oak Canyon Ranch. So deep inside in fact that GPS and cell phone may or may not work and if you haven’t been here before (or like us, even if you have) you very likely may get lost.
Ah but once you arrive, Punk Rock Picnic is a classic punk rock event de force with punk rock acts on at least half a dozen stages of various sizes and even a few acts playing off to the side. As is usual at these type of gatherings, it was an extremely diverse crowd with older cats, some 50 or even 60+ freely mixing in with teens and even little kids, some as young as 2 or 3 and others, like this kid Lucky we met who was around 7 and just starting school. Lucky came with his dad, an original hardcore punk from OC who was intent on passing punk down to his youngest son and had Lucky sporting a mohawk with a black flag tattoo (temporary) on the shoulder.
There was only the very occasional incident… like when in mid interview with cameras rolling I lost my train of thought when I spotted in the background, a security guy chasing an older, slightly fatter punk full speed for some infraction or slight. The punk threw his beer straight up in the air and bolted off at full gallop as people gathered around to watch and chuckled at the spectacle.
I laughed thinking to myself regardless of the outcome, this isn’t Cuba and we are comforted by the thought that our portly punk friend isn’t going to rot away in some undisclosed political prison to be tortured… he most likely just got tossed from the event. The United States, land of the not so free sometimes, but also a land where you can run from security and not get “disappeared”.
Yes, it was at that moment that I realized, I was having a hell of a good time. Surrounded by thousands of people who in real life are sometimes considered “outcast” or “weirdos” by the main stream. People who are so varied in their looks and background that I don’t think I even saw the same punk band T-shirt on more than one person. At these events you quickly understand you are not dealing with the “sheeple” mentality plaguing the world.
The world needs more punk rock (Cont. below)
Having been in the scene a few years myself now, I know that the most intimidating looking punks are often, some of the nicest folks you could ever hope to meet. Punks seem to have an underlying code of conduct that “if you fall down, I’m going to pick you up”… that goes beyond a Rancid song or an out of control punk pit.
Or was that just the beer talking? I don’t think so, it’s a feeling I’d been missing and it felt like I had gone home again even though I’m not sure where my home is anymore. Maybe instead I have several and it was comforting and soothing to be back at Oak Canyon with punks, most of whom I’d never met but still felt like I knew.
Yes, my friend, punk can both indeed tame and unleash the savage beast in all of us.
Lucky wasn’t the only little kid in attendance, there were several sightings. And while one could possibly debate the wisdom of bringing kids to a loud, noisy concert, Punk Rock Picnic is different, it’s an out door festival where you can roam from stage to stage and there were vendors and even some activities just for kids.
Punk rock is here to stay. While it so often seems, with all the documentaries and books written, that punk is just a bunch of history from the 70s and 80s (and there was plenty of history at PRP with Drain Bramaged, Jello Biofra (Dead Kennedys), Fear and more) there are lots of good things going on right NOW in the scene.
I say lets don’t ONLY live in the past, lets live in the moment for a change…
Enjoy some pics from some very recent history with pics and video from the 5th annual Punck Rock Picnic 2012. More coming soon.
PS Thanks to my amigo Francisco Mora for help on getting some cool pics and and climbing on stage with Jello B. to get the cool video below.
What is the sign of a good punk show? Someone loses a shoe!
My ears are still ringing and I’m still on a natural high from the big Youth BrigadeShow 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.
Mr. Lugey himself (not his name).. of It's Casual
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.
Killroy - Original lead singer (not Mr. Heart Attack)
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.
Mark Stern of Youth Brigade
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).
We went all the way to Russia for our interns/bodyguards (Tim of Tim & Snik)
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.
Shawn Stern - Youth Brigade
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.
Crowd was rowdy.. as it should be
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.
On stage with Youth Brigade
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.
Crowd pours on stage to sing
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 HEREand 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.