The Part Time Punks showcase last Sunday at the Echo expanded the definition of “punk” into the current mini-craze for the “Cold-Wave” or “minimal synth” genre. As Cold-Wave evangelist and pioneering organizer of New York's Wierd parties Peter Schoolwerth told Dazed & Confused recently, “I generally connect minimal-synth to punk and industrial, rather than new-wave or electro. It has a life-affirming spirit. It's as if you gave the punks synthesizers.”
There was a visual connection to LA punk history in the form of the inimitable Germs drummer Don Bolles dancing about as the synth-laden bill offered slice after slice of minimal, textured sounds. Local Cold-Wave stalwarts Frank Alpine opened, with a sound that finds common ground between Joy Division and Bauhaus, and a couple of songs that could even be bona-fide pop hits in an alternate universe where the 1980s kept on going. They were followed by Brooklyn's Epee DuBois, another Wierd band, who prepared the crowd for headliners, and current stars within the scene, Xeno and Oaklander.
The duo of Miss Liz Wendelbo and Sean Mcbride are namechecked by the trendy articles about the Cold-Wave scene as the current, much hyped reincarnation of the small-press rare minimal synth records from the early to mid 1980s collected by the enthusiasts. But the hype is completely tangential: Wendelbo and Mcbride have been doing their thing for quite a while, oblivious to the current non-coterie interest in their music. “They're so humble and they don't really care they're such a big deal right now,” said one of the organizers.
Video of “Saracen” (from the San Francisco show a day before):