Editors' note: In this week's print edition Javier Cabral has a downright amazing piece on the eastside backyard punk scene. Don't forget Jennie Warren's excellent slideshow.
Growing up in the East L.A., it seemed like everyone tried to form a punk band. Even I did. The scene goes through bands quickly, as kids graduate high school and get into metal, thrash or New York style hardcore. But there are a proud few that have evolved musically without forgetting their roots.
Here is my personal list of the top five East Los Angeles punk bands that play backyards. It wasn't easy to compile; after all, lots of groups claim East L.A. for street cred, but aren't even from the 'hood! Disgusting right? So, I did my research. (On Monday look for my top five East L.A. punk bands of all time.)
5. Underground Alliance
Underground Alliance's front man Tony Voltage — or T.V for short — is notorious in East L.A for two things, his eye makeup and his epic house shows. The band hails from the hills, ie the City Terrace neighborhood of East L.A. Their sound is conventional street punk, medium overdrive with simple four to five power chord power anthems accompanied by shouted vocals. The members of the band are all in their late twenties to thirties.
4. The Convicts
For all you eastside geography Nazis, this band is technically from Boyle Heights, but they make their backyard rounds mostly in East L.A. these days. They are old school; I remember them playing shows when I first started going to gigs around 2003. Their sound has gotten a lot heavier and more towards that ballistic-fast New York hardcore style, but their main influences is still mostly pop punk. Thus, don't be surprised during their set if they throw in a couple of NOFX covers.
3. Social Conflict
These guys are O.G. Their lyrics are the most intense in the scene, as shown through songs like “Razorblade Mary” and “Promised Land.” The members are from East L.A. and Boyle Heights, and they are all older dudes in their thirties now. Two years ago they released a compilation album under their own label, Innocence Lost, where they collaborated with other up-and-coming eastside punk bands.
2. The Shag Rats
Another Boyle Heights original; I went to Hollenbeck Magnet Middle School with their singer Jerry “Boots.” They have come a long way since then, from generic punk to the twang-inflected, bluesy rock 'n roll chords they play now. They got their start in the backyards and still prefer to play them over a venue any day. Their psychadelia-slanted punk rock inspires plenty of dancing.
1. Corrupted Youth
As you may have read already, Corrupted Youth have been indispensable in the development of the current East L.A. backyard scene. And on the rare occasions when they get to play before the police show up, they are quite good. A rare punk-rock duet, they're led by old school East L.A. drunk punk singers Louie and Nacho. They are some pretty big dudes, but their screeching voices can get surprisingly high when they sing. Sure, they're often out of tune and the band plays too fast, but they all have big hearts and the crowd loves them. Their best sing along song? “The Beer for Breakfast.”