The Constellation Room
The Observatory Room in Santa Ana again hosted a double-booked evening on Saturday night, with Santa Barbara based Reggae Rock band Rebelution playing in the main room, and Portland based old-school hardcore punks Poison Idea headlining the Constellation Room.
Poison Idea formed in the '80s, and is striving to keep the music alive, for both old and younger fans. Loyal fans in the front were moved by the energy and vibe of the band, which was intense an in your face. Featuring original singer Jerry A., newcomer Natalie Lucio on bass, Eric Olson and Jeff Walter on guitars and drummer Flesh Gordie, and Poison Idea's sound engulfed the circle pit and incited moshers, with its violent, raw, nihilistic hardcore punk played from the gut. Definitely for fans of bands such as The Germs, and Discharge.
Taking the stage around 11:30 a.m., the band's energy vibrated throughout the small room and was felt against the wall at the bar. It seemed odd that only a thick dark curtain covering the side of the stage acted as a wall, and outside was a separate show, but none of the fans inside seemed to be concerned. Stage divers and crowd surfers got extra crazy during the middle of the band's set, and Jerry A. even got help singing from some of the diehard punks in the crowd. One short, blue haired girl, jumped on stage and took a swig of Jerry A.'s beer, then quickly stage dived back into the crowd. The band performed for just under an hour of sped up punk songs that have stood the test of time, after 30 years.
Dissension from Long Beach warmed the crowd up nicely, with a blend of thrash metal, hardcore and hints of punk. Part Downset, part Union 13, the band performed with attitude and speed that made the floor move with slam dancers and set the atmosphere perfectly for the night. After just under half an hour, Dissension were finished and the stage was taken apart for the next band.
Next up, legendary underground punk band Battalion of Saints from San Diego took the stage and played a nearly 40 minute set of old school sounding very UK influenced punk. The band's blend of hardcore and early skate punk, was melodic and at the same time angst ridden. Original vocalist George Anthony's almost theatric showmanship and classic punk sounding vocals went perfect with the fast, political, sometimes-apocalyptic lyrics. The velocity in pit was because of the group of shirtless, tattooed bald headed punk on the floor.
Attitude Adjustment, an old school crossover band from the SF Bay Area, played next and was the most intense band of the night, creating the biggest circle pit by far. One of the progenitors of crossover (a blend from the mid '80s of hardcore punk and thrash metal), Attitude Adjustment took things to another level with the intensity for fans in the Constellation Room. Fans ate up the sped up songs, which were bursts of rage, fury, speed and brutality. The band's music has influenced generations of grind core, death metal and modern metal core. Along with peers in the band Cryptic Slaughter, Attitude Adjustment is bringing back this rustic yet true punk metal hybrid sound known as crossover, for fans of today's generation to once again enjoy and experience live.
Critical Bias: Poison Idea has been notorious, over the years for they're sometimes wrecking less abandon and partying lifestyles. It was no secret the band loved to indulge in booze, food and drugs. Singer Jerry A. is admittedly on the larger guy, but his energy, voice and charisma are just as big. In the past, many of the members were all overweight if not obese, but they didn't let that slow them down at all, and as a band show no signs of stopping anytime soon! Legends Never Diet!
The Crowd: This was an eclectic mix of preppy, laid back stoners for Rebelution and crusty, leather spike wearing mohawked punkers, and a few longhaired head bangers. The Constellation room was full to the brim with slam dancers, old school scenesters and kids sporting back patches from everyone to The Exploited and Hellhammer, to Motorhead and Crass. Thankfully there were no obvious signs of hostility or fights between these two groups.
Random Notebook Dump: Poison Idea's stop at the Constellation Room was one of four nights booked in Southern California. The band played in San Diego, Pomona and is scheduled to play in Hollywood at Loaded Bar, on Sunday, Jan. 5, 2014.
Overheard in the Crowd: Lead Jerry A. from Poison Idea was not ashamed to get wasted on stage. After a few songs, he found himself in a conundrum of having no more beer. “I need a beer,” he said to his band mates. Amid the fans yelling song requests, he then replied back, 'don't worry we're going to play every fucking song you ask for, but first beer. Tonight I'm going to get in a bath tub full of beer.”
Poison Idea's Setlist:
2. Punish Me
3. Just Get Away
5. Made to be Broken
6. Plastic Bomb
7. Getting the Fear
8. Thorn in My Side
9. Marked For Life
10. Time to Go
11. Think Twice
12. The Temple
13. Feel the Darkness
14. Alan's on Fire
15. Hangover Heart Attack
Alex Distefano is an established freelance writer and music blogger from the Los Angeles area. With over a dozen years under his belt as a published Journalist, he covers the worlds of heavy metal music, punk rock, current events, cannabis culture, comedy, radio, food, tattoos, the paranormal, and ‘conspiracy theories.’ He graduated from California State University Long Beach in 2012 with a Bachelor’s Degree in both Journalism and Ancient History. Aside from his professional writing endeavors, Distefano works as an Educator, and delivery/rideshare driver.