Hardcore Heaven in Long Beach: You see, this is what it’s all about. While celebrity-musicians were strutting down a red carpet so that photographers and TMZ could try to figure out who made their clothes, a bunch of hardcore punk bands were tearing up Alex’s Bar in Long Beach — for years one of the best venues to watch a punk rock show in SoCal, if not California, if not the States. We’re willing to bet there were no circle pits at the Grammys, that the air wasn’t filled with beer. And when a fight started to break out here, the world didn’t lose its shit (yes, that’s an Oscars reference, not Grammys, but it still fits).

Sadly we missed the Runts, the opening band of four on a Sunday afternoon. But we arrived to see most of local hardcore band Skullcrack lay waste to this place. Frontman Jeff Salisbury has a larynx lined with sandpaper and there’s more than a hint of Detroit vets Negative Approach about their full-force approach. They smash you on the head with tunes such as “Full Blast,” and leave everything on the stage. Like NA, their songs are so short that they pretty much released a full album (Full Blast) on a 7″ record, and it’s well worth seeking out.

Angry Samoan is Bill Vockeroth, original drummer with punk legends the Angry Samoans, plus some friends, some of whom played in later versions of the Samoans. Debate the legitimacy of that all you want, but we don’t give a fuck. Ultimately, we’re pleased that one of the OG members is keeping this music alive, and he’s assembled a great band to do it.

Ron Martinez (Final Conflict, Lower Class Brats) is fronting the band, and he strikes the right balance of aggression and wit to sing these ludicrously wonderful songs. They opened with “Gas Chamber” and we get a lot more songs from the classic Back From Samoa album including “The Todd Killings,” “My Old Man’s a Fatso,” “They Saved Hitler’s Cock,” and “Tuna Taco.”

“Inside My Brain” from the pioneering early EP pf the same name was another highlight, as the band inspired chaos inside the venue. Frankly, the whole set was a joy.

That just left Ill Repute to finish off the matinee gig. Alongside the likes of Dr. Know, Stalag 13, and Agression, these guys pioneered the “nardcore” hardcore sound in the early ’80s in the Oxnard suburbs. Years might have passed, but they brought plenty of energy here.

The pit raged for songs like “Sleep Walking” (we think) and, if you closed your eyes, it could well have been ’83 again — the year that they released the Oxnard — Land of No Toilets 7″. But the time it was done, we were left to marvel at the musical excellence that had just occurred.

Hardcore Heaven in Long Beach



LA Weekly