Tag Archives: LA Punk

Coma-Tones (Viper Room LA 1995)

People wonder why I can be really hard to impress when they try to turn me on to the latest Trash Rock band with the ‘junky chic’ aesthetic, loads of which have been stumbling out of LA and Brooklyn forever now and this is why.

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I lived in LA from 1996 until roughly 2004 and this was hands down my favorite band to come out of that scene and according to many, the best. I saw them twice and I consider myself very lucky. Over the years and as recently as a couple years ago, I’ve also been lucky enough to become friends with and share the stage with Jimmy James and his other band The Hangmen and he is easily the most solid rock guitarist in town and has been for years and The Hangmen are still at it.

I briefly knew Divo Garcia and met Gio Vitanza a few times and they were the nicest guys. I was really saddened to hear about Gio’s passing a few years ago back in Florida. Check out this live set from 1995 with Divo on guitar (when I saw them he had switched to bass) and I believe this was their first drummer Grant ‘Bo’ Johns who had passed away by the time I caught up with them. I used to have a copy of their Syl Sylvain produced 7″ which was signed by Grant which I’ve since lost, though I still proudly own their ultra rare 12″ EP. But really, they were a live band, fun, ferocious, they came from the heart and went straight for the nuts as you can experience in the video below.

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12 inch 45 on Offbeat Records 1992

A few words from Classic Rock Mag :

“There was deliciously seamy underground in LA rock n’ roll in the 1980’s, filled with freaks and weirdos and druggy shamans and bleary-eyed dead-enders who ran all the way to the end of the America to find somebody to love, and still came up wanting.

The most infamous character in that whole scene was probably Jeffrey Lee Pierce of voodoo gospel-billy blues-punks The Gun Club, a man who allowed rock’n’roll to thoroughly destroy him, but there were plenty of other would-be rock messiahs trawling that town, from the Leaving Trains’ cross-dressing gonzo rock journalist Falling James to displaced cow-girl Texacala Jones of Tex and the Horseheads to The Flesheaters’ punk poet Chris D. There were bands that took the Hollywood glam template and turned into something remarkably more perverse, like future-shock rockers Rebel Rebel, needle-punks Stars from Mars or gender-bending provocateurs The Ultras, and then were the bands that were just plain ol’ mean, like the aforementioned Motorcycle Boy, The Humpers, The Hangmen, and The Coma-Tones, bands that took the basic Stones/Aerosmith template and dragged it right into the depths of LA’s sun-bleached depravity.”

Again, a big thanks to Louis Elovitz for being there!


 

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Adolescents/Wasted Youth (Coconut Teaszer West Hollywood 1989)

Enjoy this beautiful chaos. It’s a wonder the bands got through this show. This footage puts you on the stage with the bands as they navigate crowds of rowdy fans pushing up on the stage and the security crew with their backs to the band to protect them and gear from getting trashed. Many stoppages and busted mics but the show went on and looked like blast. Skate rock at it’s best!

ADOLESCENTS

WASTED YOUTH

visit Louis Elovitz on Vimeo for many more of these old school live shows from LA.

The Weirdos (Live at Bogarts 1991)

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Another excellent upload from LAPunk13

Even in 1991 there was a fun spirit to this set by LA OG’s The Weirdos who were one of the first punk bands to hit the LA scene in the mid to late 70’s.

It’s nice to see this as back on the East Coast where I grew up in 1991 most ‘punk’ shows were really aggressive and violent. The element of a fun time was pretty much absent. This show represents a different time in punk music when people got together to enjoy a kick ass band and have a good time being an outsider…and there’s ‘pogo dancing’!

On a side note I was lucky enough to play with Dix Denny a few times when he auditioned for the Flesh Eaters around 98-99. He came to a few rehearsals before realizing we were going to do some shows, he thought he was going into the studio with us…he didn’t want to do any shows! That would’ve been fun…alas.

Check out LAPunk13  for more great video from the early LA scene.

 

Alice Bag (SF Clips)

Alice Bag 2016

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If you’ve seen The Decline of Western Civilisation by Penelope Spheeris, then you are at least aware of the late 70’s LA Punk scene, parts of it anyway.

One of the things I took away from studying this scene when I was a teenager, was the sheer eclectic nature of the bands that formed and developed around that time under the ‘punk’ banner. You had The Germs, X, The Blasters, The Screamers, The Mau-Maus, The Flesh-Eaters, The Weirdos, Alice Bag Band (The Bags), The Gun Club, Circle One, Circle Jerks, Black Flag, TSOL and many more! None of those bands looked alike or sounded alike at all!

I could go into this more, but I’ll let someone who was there talk about the diversity of the og LA scene (76-77) which really centered around Hollywood before it spread to the burbs . This recent interview with Alice Bag gives a better perspective, here’s an excerpt:

“First of all, I don’t think The Decline of Western Civilization shows the scene I was part of. I don’t think that was the mission of that film to depict the early L.A. punk scene, because by the time Penelope Spheeris was filming it, punk was already spilling out into the suburbs and taking on different flavors. One thing she captured in the film was the growing hardcore scene. And I think that hardcore scene brought with it a lot of white male energy that wasn’t present in the Hollywood scene. And she showed that shift. And if you look carefully at the film I think you can tell which were the bands that were part of the early scene because they were quirkier. They were not quite what is considered punk nowadays. The images and sounds and behavior [of punk now] were not associated with the early punk scene. It was open-ended and inclusive — as long as it was different from mainstream, it would fit into that scene. So that’s why what you see in documentaries doesn’t gel with what you hear people talking about from the early scene. And I’m talking about ’77, ’78, even the summer of ’76. People were coming in from glam then — it was a transitional year.”

From: Alice Bag Billboard Interview 6/24/16 


A New Book and a New Record

Violence girl

After 40 years of being essentially underground and operating under the radar, still in music and in other realms such as activism and art and education and Feminism (important stuff largely ignored by the mainstream) she has emerged with a new book and a new record

Alice Bag record.

I was lucky enough to make it to her SF show at The El Rio to witness firsthand what to me has become a lost sound. There is a distinctly raw yet fluid delivery with diverse elements that embody that classic LA punk sound such as Rockabilly and that 60’s girl group sound mixed with some garage punk elements, abstract brooding dirges as well as all out blistering pogo punk beats and Johnny Thunders guitar solo bends all mixed together tastefully, never too much of one thing, add a heartfelt performance and socially conscious and very relevant lyrical content and you have the best of the best here. Great show, great band, see for yourself:

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Alice Bag SF 2016 (Clips)

All pics and video by Jeff K. 2016

A bit of a side note:

One of Alice’s guitarists, who is also on her new record, is an old LA friend of mine Sharif D. and he has a new band called Sex Stains and they will be releasing an album soon too!

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Hanging with Sharif!

PLAYING WITH HEROES

Another really good read below from one of the drummers Alice has on her album, Candace Hansen. Her experience really resonated with me as I had a similar experience in the mid 90’s when I was tapped to join an incarnation of The Flesh Eaters who also came out of this early wave of LA Punk bands. It’s always a bit surreal to think that I got to play in a band that at one point or other contained members such as Bill Bateman and Dave Alvin (The Blasters) John Doe and DJ Bonebrake (X) Steve Berlin (Los Lobos) as well as some collaborations on Divine Horseman work by everyone from Exene (X) to Texacala Jones (Tex and The Horseheads) Kid Congo Powers (Cramps, Bad Seeds, Pink Monkey Birds, Gun Club) Jeffrey Lee Pierce (Gun Club). I can totally relate to Candace’s experience in becoming a part of a history that influenced us immensely as kids. It’s such an honor and we are very lucky to have had this experience.

Candace’s OC Weekly Article:

PLAYING DRUMS FOR ALICE BAG CHANGED MY LIFE

Punk Out!