Part of being punk rock is doing it hard. I guess this might explain why so many punk bands are subject to a weird binary of being loved or hated. While it makes sense that ambivalence is boring and for straights, the black and whiteness of it all leaves visions of urban covens of gutter punks operating like sixth graders at recess.
The Stitches have such a dualistic reputation. A wide fan base and accolades ranging from Spin mag to truant skate kids clash somewhat with their absence from the SoCal punk canon (the band remains largely unknown in the greater U.S. of A.) and the fact that plenty of people are turned off by the unclassifiable, dead-fucking-serious-but-nihilistic music. It doesn't seem likely, though, that the Stitches give a quarter of a shit.
Mike Lohrman, who fronts the band, has semi-legendarily kicked meth and somehow kept a righteous punk rock vinyl-only record shop alive in Laguna Beach. He's also really good at skateboarding. This "I may be flirting with 40, but I'm still at it, you ass-douche" animus reaches into the Stitches—in one interview with a punk zine, Mike claimed his songs are about "going to school, making funny things out of cardboard while on speed and making fun of our buddy's bands." Doing this in a decent band would be cool—irreverence taken seriously is rare and appreciated. But doing so in a very good band elevates the whole thing to, like, elite punk status. Their catalog is relatively slim, but amid the offerings are some gold nuggets, like the emblematic song "I Can't Do Anything," a frantic, perfectly wrought sob of discontent. Considered to be an exceptional live band, the Stitches are the kind of erratic entity you want on your team.
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The Stitches with the Orphans, the Hitchhikers, and Gabriel Hart & His Angry Black Guitar at Alex's Bar, 2913 E. Anaheim St., Long Beach, (562) 434-8292. Fri. Call for time. $7. 21+.