The Alley Cats Purr in San Pedro: We have to start with the venue. This writer had never been to the Sardine in San Pedro before, and that, as it turns out, is a crime. The place, which doubles as the home of Recess Records and has a record store at the front, is a Mecca for independent punk rock, clowns and horror flicks. The walls are decorated with movie soundtrack LP sleeves (or laser discs — they were two high to properly tell) and Tales From the Crypt comic books. There are pictures of clowns around every corner, including the bathroom. It’s just fucking cool.

The three band bill they hosted on Saturday evening was more than attractive enough to  pull in a healthy number of SoCal punks, new and old school. Local openers Fired pummeled that crowd from the first bar — a punk throwback in all the good ways. Nihilism, anger and a set packed with great punk tunes.

Long Beach’s Rhino 39 have been active in the L.A. punk scene since the early days. Formed in the late ’70s, they infamously inspired TSOL’s Jack Grisham to get his ass in gear and the last time we saw them, they were opening for TSOL at hometown joint Alex’s Bar.

They were great again in San Pedro; the lineup may have shifted over the years, but the proto-hardcore energy remains present and correct. If you’re familiar with the Dangerhouse compilations, which feature Rhino 39 alongside the likes of X, the Bags, the Dils, the Weirdos and the Alley Cats (get those albums if you don’t have them), then you’ll know songs such as “Prolixin Stomp” and “No Compromise.” The band might not hold the historical weight of the aforementioned, but they really should.

The Alley Cats are under-celebrated too. They took more than two decades off between 1982 and 2015, and for a while in the ’80s they reformed as the Zarkons, but 1981’s Nightmare City album is an L.A. punk classic that should be held up alongside anything by X or Black Flag.

Thanks in large part to mainstay Randy Stodola’s poetic lean, there’s always been a deep, dark side to the band. Today, the lineup features the magnificent Apryl Cady on bass and co-vocals, plus Matt Laskey on drums. Former vocalist (and also a former Zarkon) Dianne Chai seems to be done with the music business, so on the Alley Cats go.

Stodola has clearly lived a life. You can practically read the lines on his face as he pours everything into his instrument and lyrics, Johnny Thunders style. He does write poetry, and has been known to play acoustic sets too. That makes sense. Stodola is as much a singer/songwriter as a punk rocker, and it’s the collision of those things that makes him such a treasure.

The set at the Sardine featured everything you could want and more besides. “Nothing Means Nothing Anymore” and “Too Much Junk” are nihilistic punk gems, while “Just an Alley Cat” is a manic call to arms. A cover of the Avengers’ “We Are the One” was a treat, Stodola and Cady trading vocal punches like sweaty heavyweights.

And then it was done, and we’re left to reflect on the old school punks still working in this region who don’t have the shirt hanging in Hot Topic but who have a legacy that will be remembered by the right people for decades to come.

The Alley Cats Purr in San Pedro: Go to for more info on the venue.




























































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