By Javier Cabral
The Vibrators and Circle One
Better than: Going to Artwalk!
You know it's going to be a decent show when the parking lot behind the venue is packed with a bunch of tailgating teenage punks. There were more than twenty cars last night at The Airliner, whose occupants were drinking and doing other things, preparing themselves for The Vibrators.
I sneaked away after a few craft beer myself to see what the openers had to offer.
Boulevard Beat -- a poppy, power-pop band from "LA and OC man" -- according to their exhausted drummer, were up on the main stage. They prepared the crowd for a night of vintage punk with a couple of guitar-wailing songs. The guys looked like The Vibrators did twenty years ago, what with their hair in bangs and all. The band member's girlfriends scattered in the crowd seemed to be the most supportive. Good for them.
Down below on the second stage, The Runts started to play soon after. I asked a girl in the crowd who was singing along to their songs where the band was from, "Highland Park!" she replied excitedly, "The drummer and singer are brothers." There you go, keeping it local and family run. It was rather refreshing to see them play, a style of raw punk rock that is rare nowadays, orchestrated not with a set list apparently but by the guys whispering into each other's ears in between sets. The clinched their performance with a entertaining performance of GBH's "City Baby's Revenge."
Back on the main stage, Circle One was all revved up and ready to go. The band is classic Los Angeles Hardcore punk royalty, repping the Pico Rivera 'hood. (Eastside!) They have been around since 1980, and have been through a lot. Now, they have a new vocalist, the young Omar Ervin, and are as energetic and tight as ever. All their songs are short and sweet. Just enough so to get you hyped up to go in the pit...only to end as soon as you get there. They played the majority of their crowd pleasing old stuff, although this particular night the crowd didn't fully appreciate it. The pits were as dead as a at Grateful Dead show.
Nonetheless, their live performance of "Highway Patrol Man" was priceless; bassist Mike Ituarte's fingers were fast to hit the catchy, rolling-- but super fast--bass line. They even coverd a couple of L.A's Wasted Youth songs, including "Fuck Authority!" Apparently there were a couple of the band's old members schmoozing around in the pit.
nd last but not least...The Vibrators! The UK charm-punk band that hit the top 40 charts in 1977 pleased everybody with their British-accented lyrics. They jumped right into their sing along oldies-but-goodies, like "Pure Mania," "Whip's and Furs," and "Troops of Tomorrow," mixing in newer stuff of course.
I was a little curious to see how the classic punk band would sound without their original vocalist Knox, since he officially left the band just earlier this year. No one seemed to really care that the drummer John 'Eddie' Edwards is the last original member of the band. The verdict? They did absolutely fine. All three members shared the singing duties, and it sounded good.
They plowed through their set '77 punk, Ramones-esque style, that is, straight through. Their were no time-wasting dialogue breaks in between songs at all. It was beautiful, especially when applied to their punk-rock love hit "Baby, Baby, Baby" and probably their most popular of all, "Automatic Lover."
"It's always good fun here, everyone sings along," said a winded Edwards. Right after their long set, he walked to the merchandise table and set up shop, all by himself. He sold a couple of shirt's, a seven-inch and a couple of stickers. "[Los Angeles] is always one of the friendliest gigs" he continued telling me, cheerfully.
The Vibrators are also laying this Saturday in Long Beach's Blue Café.
Personal Bias: I've always wanted to be one of those '77 types of punk dudes, but never got around to the fashion part of it.
The Crowd: Locals! All chicano punk rock youth from around East Los Angeles and Highland Park. And because it was The Vibrators, more girls than guys, if you can believe that.
Overheard: "It's not the 80's anymore but fuck it!"
Random Notebook Dump: There weren't really any security anywhere in the stage or pit area, and no one got in a fight! This is extremely rare for a punk show of this proportion.
Set list below.
I need a slave
Whips and furs
Kids a mess
Troops of tomorrow
Sound of the suburbs
Brand new Cadillac
Sweet sweet heart
Baby baby baby
Disco in Moscow
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Wrecked on you
Shakin' all over
Yeah yeah yeah