After close to 40 years of being Huntington Beach's native punk-rock band, the Crowd still have a few tricks up their sleeve. In support of their latest record, Surf Ghetto Riot—which ended up as a compilation after the band realized they didn't have enough new material for a full album—vocalist Jim Decker, guitarist Jim Kaa and the rest of the Crowd managed to land a pair of shows at Punk Rock Bowling this weekend.
"It'll be fantastic," Decker says. "We're playing with the Vandals on Friday night, then we're playing a pool party on Monday with the Dickies, and then I'm doing some Punk Rock Karaoke on Monday night before we leave on Tuesday. It's going to be an eventful weekend."
"We've been playing shows with the Dickies literally since '79 or '80 at the Whisky [a Go Go in LA] when we first started," Kaa adds. "To be able to play with them on Memorial Day at a pool party in Vegas—I'm not a young guy anymore, but that certainly appeals to me from a cold-beer-and-a-shot standpoint to play that kind of good-time show."
The Crowd happen to be friends with pretty much every SoCal punk band from right around 1980. After decades of growing and evolving as both people and musicians, Kaa and Decker look back and laugh on their near-lifelong relationships with everyone from the Adolescents to X. Of course, they weren't all necessarily friends back in the day. "When we first met the Adolescents in 1980 or whatever, they were the competition," Kaa says with a laugh. "We've been friends with them, TSOL and many many other bands for 40 years now. I don't think any of us imagined that that's what would happen. Being part of that Orange County scene from '79 to '82, it was just a magical time. To play shows with them now and see people our age there, their kids there, and teenagers rocking out, it's a good feeling."
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"The really cool thing about everyone who was around during the early days and is still around now is that we're all really good friends," Decker adds. "I can not see some of these guys for six years, and then run into them, and it's like I saw them a week ago. It's a good camaraderie from the old-timers who are still plodding along."
Of course, the Crowd wouldn't keep performing and recording if they thought they didn't have anything left to bring to the table. The generation of bands that served as the Big Bang of SoCal punk is still going strong, and the H.B. quintet's most recent shows are still a perfect example of that wave. If you ask anyone who was there, the magic of the first generation of sunshine and punk blending together for the first time may never be captured again. "There'll never be anything like those first four years of Southern California punk rock ever again," Decker says.
"It's different now, but there are still bands like FIDLAR and the Garden who are continuing those traditions," Kaa adds. "FIDLAR is so good. They're a good band that writes good songs. I saw them at that When We Were Young festival with my daughter, and it was such a good feeling for me to see them rock and the crowd go off because while I didn't directly influence their band, we influenced the bands that influenced them and other bands like them. That's a great feeling."
The Crowd perform with the Vandals, Street Dogs, Screw 32 and Line Cutters at the Punk Rock Bowling club show at Fremont Country Club, 601 E. Fremont, Las Vegas, (702) 382-6601; www.fremontcountryclublasvegas.com. Fri., 8 p.m. $20. 21+.