Frontier Records' 30th Year Anniversary
Nov. 7, 2010
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As commonplace as punk music has become over the years, there's something incredibly esoteric about watching the genre's hardcore pioneers. But last night, as several bands from punk's early days celebrated Frontier Records' 30th year anniversary, group after group connected intensely with a large crowd of studded-jacket wearing, mohawk hoisting, fishnet-clad punkers.
To anyone not familiar with bands such as the Adolescents, TSOL or Middle Class, each set would probably seem to bleed into the other as each group is keen on shouting vocals and playing four chord progressions. But those in the know danced freakishly, crowd surfed, furiously moshed and stage dived.
Since the last time I saw the Adolescents at House of Blues Anaheim, lead singer Tony Cadena suffered a heart attack. Yet at last night's show, he demonstrated more energy than at the pre-attack gig as he raced around the stage, stomped on monitors and dove into the audience.
TSOL preceded them. While the audience went ape shit, pitting and crowd surfing, it was when the band slowed it down a bit during the song "Wash Away," from 1982's Beneath the Shadows that spoke to me. The song featured more melodic singing on the part of frontman Jack Grisham as well as a soaring guitar solo.
Other band highlights included The Deadbeats who rocked a saxophone along with their hardcore sound making for the best change-up in the evening's entertainment. I was thinking their music is what the writers of the Munster's theme song would sound like if they went punk. Then, The Deadbeats launched into a version of the Munster's theme song. Awesome. And while singer Scott Guerin may have gone a bit too far in donning a black thong and rolling around on stage with a blow up doll, you've got to quietly admire a band with a song titled "Kill the Hippies."
Other top acts included The Middle Class as well as The Avengers. The latter band demonstrated the best command of vocal melody thanks to front woman Penelope Houston. She was also backed up with the best harmonies of the evening. And if we're going to give out an award for best lyric, it has to go to the Avengers for their song "American in Me." The main chorus goes "Ask not what you can do for your country/ what's your country doing to you."
What was most remarkable to me about last night's show is that many of the musicians playing first got their start in music before most of those in the audience were born. And while they don't move as fast or jump as high as they once did, all demonstrated that quintessential "up yours" attitude so integral to punk rock. The best example of this was when TSOL singer Grisham notified the audience that all the building's thermostats were turned up to maximum heat. He then said the managers practice this because it increases bar sales. "Just thought you'd might like to know," he said acerbically.
Jack Grisham of TSOL
John Gilhooley/OC Weekly
The Crowd: Mostly young people. Teens to mid-20s. But there were a fair amount of middle aged punkers there as well. Lots of mohawks, tattoos, studs, and leather.
Overheard: "Amoeba, amoeba, amoeba!" Yelled one fan standing outside the Echoplex during the show. He was of course referring to the classic Adolescent's song. Security wouldn't let him in.