Zounds - The Echoplex - 9-18-11
By Ron Garmon
Zounds, Resist and Exist, Gestapo Khazi
Better than...standing in a hot shower and ripping your own clothes off.
When I arrived at the Echoplex lines were snaking in both directions on Glendale Ave. Everywhere were punks and punkettes in weekend mufti, faux bad girls in leopard tights, and about twoscore toothily-grinning Betty Page doubles.
Thus for an uncomfortable interval I was in front of Rafa's Lounge, where some kind of open-mic nightmare was unfolding up the rickety stairs. A Jello Biafra-besotted ranter was giving full-throat to banal ecstasies at the top of what sounded like greasy leather lungs. Finally, I was able to talk my way up the line.
It was a fine night, full of riotous giggling and flirting, but it would become plain a lot of youth energies were being carefully banked. It took a lot of pulling and hauling to get this massive and motley crowd into the venue two-by-two, but the place slowly filled as DJs No Age spun first-wave punk oldies.
It was a little after ten when Gestapo Khazi casually swaggered onstage and set the kids to jumping with outsized lashings of tight and thunderous hardcore. Frontman John Roller stalked the stage like a benzedrine tiger, yipping and snarling impressively.
I became aware the moshing had started when some beefy lugnut slammed into my back and pushed me against the stageside rail. This outburst didn't last long, and the audience soon returned to respectful listening and pogoing before drummer Mike Shelbourn suddenly announced: "This is the last song we'll ever do live." Groans rattled the rafters, but the band romped through the finale in a most non-valedictory manner. "Later," John snorted. Bereft fans of this well-loved Long Beach outfit can take this as they will.
About half the near-capacity crowd fled for the smoking area, including many sick-looking nonsmokers hacking daintily in the blue haze. Resist and Exist, a six-piece peace punk karass from OC, took little time setting up and kicking off a rousing, heartfelt set. Charismatic singer Jang Lee emoted fiercely, songs were dedicated to the children of Afghanistan and imprisoned Black Panthers, and kids at the lip of the stage called out requests. "Play that pro-woman song!" yelled some bearish fellow behind me, and the moshing began again in earnest. Guys plowed into each other, girls were swung around like giddy dolls, and here and there a reveler fell heavily on the concrete floor. I suffered no worse injury than several wrecked photos, two quarts of sweat and a button ripped off my vintage sharkskin jacket.
Zounds review below.
It was nearing midnight when the opening acts were finally dispensed with and the wait set in for the headliners. Few leading-brand histories of UK punk bother with Zounds, but this rough-and-ready anarchist collective's left-wing politics, firm street-level following, and output on Rough Trade is highly prized by the nose ring afciandi, especially those at the Echoplex last night.
Steve Lake, the band's sole original member, came loping on like a battle-scarred champ, and led the band into a blistering "Little Bit More," before unloading a highly politicized set of maximum schism and blues. Some of these golden geezers of first-wave punk have taken to phoning it in, but Lake sweated and hollered like an Alabama carny barker. The crowd capered and leaped frantically and it seemed the entire room behind me was one surging mound of sweat-tangled hair and upended boot heels. Zounds eventually ground to a halt, but were coaxed back by ear-numbing shrieks from the kids. "We don't know three more songs," Lake quipped. "We're not The Grateful Dead!"
They charged through a couple more anyway and the DJ announced there would be dancing until 2 a.m. Limp and exhausted, the crowd didn't leave behind many takers and soon the neighborhood was scattered with footsore punks, many wondering disconsolately aloud about a ride home.
Random notebook dump: It took some enterprising work with elbows and knees to get anywhere near the stage for Zounds.
Overheard in crowd: Guy in line: "This is worse than trying to get in to see the bands at Jimmy Kimmel!"
Girl: "I have 1700 so-called friends on Facebook."
Zounds set list below.
Zounds set list:
Little Bit More
Great White Hunter
Did He Jump/My Mummy
Can't Cheat Karma
Get the Music Newsletter
Keep your thumb on the local music scene each week with music news, trends, artist interviews and concert listings. We'll also send you special ticket offers and music deals.