For the celebration of Goldenvoice's 30th anniversary, founder Gary Tovar kicked off a weekend of celebration old school style. Before Coachella, Goldenvoice focused on a genre of music that was just a tad faster and a little more untamed than the others — punk. Yesterday, the Santa Monica Civic Auditorium's fluttering LED screen advertised neither International Gem & Jewelry shows nor symphony performances, but instead Social Distortion, X and Youth Brigade. The crowd was huge — almost 3000 — and many were reliving their rebellious youth.
A fence was set up isolating the auditorium. The line to get in zigzagged not unlike a line for a roller coaster — only, it ended in a frisking. Another sign of the times? An eight feet border between the crowd and stage, and an army of bouncers. Eh well, what can you do?
Still, the show still was as badass as you'd imagine. The pit shifted into full rumble as soon as the Adolescents went on. The floor shook as they played that last fast-forwarded riff of “Kids of the Black Hole.” Singer Tony Cadena was generous with his mic, handing it off to someone in the crowd so they could sing along.
Before X came on stage, Gary Tovar himself came out. He noted that he was given their album as soon as it came out, but never actually listened to it until a year later. “I wasted a year of my life” he lamented.
Most of the crowd was over 35, and lots of them seemed to be there to see X. The quintessential Los Angeles punky band went on after Adolescents and immediately started in with the crowd pleasers. “Nausea” and “We're Desperate” got the crowd lubricated.
“I think Los Angeles is still our hometown?” said John Doe, X's bassist and singer, as they broke into “Los Angeles” during the middle of their long set. Exene Cervenka was energetic, the rest of their songs highlighted their later Americana-influenced stuff, led by Billy Zoom's shredding guitar solo's.
Last but not least was Social Distortion. These guys could of had a whole festival dedicated to just them; hell, they deserve it after sticking it out for so long too. I was bummed, though, that their set didn't include more of their older punk stuff. But they started with “1945,” so I was happy.
Mike Ness looked just as fierce and seasoned as a veterano gangster in East Los Angeles. A teardrop tattoo and his everything!
Social Distortion's music has evolved into a rockabilly-esque style, but their fans have evolved too. There was more of a response when they played their current KROQ stuff than when they pumped out their old school shit. Kudos to them for making it big but still not forgetting their roots.
I can only imagine how the rest of GV30 is going to go this weekend, as the bands are only going to get harder and faster.
The crowd: Grown up bro's with their common-law wives.
Social Distortion's set list: (more or less)
It's the law
Machine gun blues
So far away
Story of my life
Sweet and low down
I was wrong
Another state of mind
Ring of fire