Hermosa Beach punk rock took over Santa Ana last night, as Pennywise played a sold out show at the Observatory, with special guests the Originalites, Special C and General Fucking Principle (G.F.P.)
OC ska band The Originalites opened the show playing a very up-beat, classic 'skunk' sound that he crowd began to dig immediately. Michael Belk tool lead on vocals and Saxophone, and also jumped and skanked around the stage more than once, running around flailing his arms. This on stage moshing, got a young kid in a Descendents shirt and a 40ish-looking man in a Misfits shirt to ignite a circle pit, which went well with the faster, NOFX-meets-Madness style of ska punk songs The Originalites performed. The band also features bassist Tim Frankeny, drummer Peter Fontes and guitarist/vocalist Daniel Tello.
Special C was up next, and this Redondo Beach based trio also performed a very laid back, but vibrant set of Reggae, roots rock influenced punk, essentially merging the sounds of Sublime, Slightly Stupid, Black Flag and Pennywise. Friends, Dustin Jones, Vocals/Guitarist Jason McMackin, bassist and drummer Evan Pershing, formed special C. Although the crowd enjoyed the band's set, things didn't really get moving in the crowd until the band performed a cover of the Black Flag classic "Jealous Again." Special C definitely has talent, and are keeping the legacy and tradition of Reggae infused punk alive and well. The only thing missing was the reefer.
G.F.P. took the stage next and threw down a crushing set of hardcore skate punk. With guitarist Greg Hetson (Bad Religion, Circle Jerks), Tony Alva on bass, Joey C on drums and vocalist Crazy Tom, G.F.P. raged through a set of a punk, metallic tinged hardcore set that got people moving their feet on the floor. "We were just added last minute," Tom said to the crowd, in between songs. The bursts of punk energy were rampant throughout the band's set, with songs like 'False Respect,' 'Kick Flip Grind' and 'Fuck This Whole System."
By the time Pennywise took the stage the security had their hands full. The photographers in the photo pit had to be kicked out shortly after the band started, as several people tried to jump on the stage-to-stage dive but the guards grabbed them and pulled them down.
Pennywise is made up of guitarist Fletcher Dragge, bassist Randy Bradbury, drummer Byron McMackin and singer Jim Lindberg, and formed in Hermosa Beach in 1989, under the umbrella of other South Bay punk bands before them: Descendents, Circle Jerks and Black Flag. Taking heavy from these bands, the band crated their own unique sound and a rabid fan base locally and internationally.
Musically the band was partying, and on fire, with Dragge and Bradbury in unison with McMackin and Lindberg in front spouting out bursts of words in sometimes a political, punk rock fashion as a pit swirled the entire show.
The band had guitarist Greg Hetson join them on stage during the middle of the set, to play the Bad Religion song, "Do What You Want," and also played homage to the Ramones (specifically drummer Tommy Ramon, the recently departed last surviving member), by covering the classic "Blitzkrieg Bop."
The band played songs off of most of their eleven albums, including the newest release. "We have a new album out called Yesterdays, and it came out yesterday," Lindberg told the crowd. "That's the only time we will ever be able to say that, tonight."
The Crowd: A homogenous sea of white dudes in baseball caps with tattoos, bald headed guys with beards, and tons of pretty women, everywhere. People all around were chugging beers, and many were adorning Pennywise, Black Flag and Ramones shirts.
Pennywise Set List:
4.My Own Country
5.Can't Believe It
6.Same Old Story
7.My Own Way
11.Time To Burn
12.Do What Want(Bad Religion cover feat. Greg Hetson on guitar)
13.Blitzkrieg Bop (Ramones cover)
16.Living for Today
17.Every Single Day
19.You'll Never Make It
Critical Bias: Although the band has earned success by tourng the world, and selling millions of records with radio hit songs like 'Fuck Authority,' and 'Alien,' the band has been consistent and loyal to its fans, and stayed true to its South Bay punk rock roots.
Overheard: "Damn, look at all those KROQ banners all over the damn place," a man said to his friend gulping beer from a large plastic cup, before Pennywise went on. "Too bad they fucking suck now, and haven't played punk in years!"
Random Notebook Dump: Pennywise was joined by original singer Jim Lindberg, who took a hiatus from the band in 2009, but has officially rejoined the band for the new album and subsequent tours.