Show reviews: Adolescents and GBH at The Fonda, Stiff Little Fingers and GFP at the El Rey, White Dove and Drinking Flowers at Club Satellite

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I love the Adolescents and finally got a chance to hear songs from the new LP played live on Saturday when they opened for GBH at the Fonda. The Kelly Thomas-fueled cuts already demonstrated the Fullerton-spawned band to be darker and angrier than ever but honed by a European tour and a handful of opening gigs that I’ve missed until now, they’ve been polished into live punk perfection. That plus unbeatable songs like “No Way,” “Amoeba,” and “Kids From The Black Hole” book-ending the set makes for one killer gig. My friend and singer Tony Reflex commended the security for allowing the slam pit to go off, stating that the Ferguson cops could learn a thing or two from them.

This was the second time for me to see Charged GBH. Last time was at Fender’s in 1986 when my twin brother and I were scrawny Asian high school students in a sea of shirtless, sweaty, gigantic skinheads and Mohawks. How did we survive? This time I was stuck/safe in the balcony and could appreciate the flowing symmetry of the circle pit and nonstop stage diving from a Statler and Waldorf’s point of view. It still smelled lousy and sounded great! The original lineup played the entire Leather, Bristls, Studs, and Acne EP followed by hits like “Sick Boy,” “Big Women,” “Diplomatic Immunity,” and “City Baby Attacked by Rats”… Oi!

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The week before I got to see another legendary U.K. punk band, Stiff Little Fingers out of Belfast. Holy crap, they sounded amazing and played all the hits from “Suspect Device” to “Tin Soldiers” to “Straw Dogs.” They also pulled out some of their favorite covers, “Johnny Was” and “Doesn’t Make It Alright.” Jake Burns told a great story about how they not only stole the song from The Specials but released it first, too. He also told stories about being inspired by Joe Strummer, commiserating with Phil Lynott, overcoming depression… So many awesome songs and so many interesting stories from ye olden days of punk–but not so much as to bog down the evening.

Opening up was GFP, a new band with decades of L.A. punk lineage: Guitarist Greg Hetson from Bad Religion, Circle Jerks, and Red Cross, bassist Tony Alva of Dogtown and Alva skateboarding fame, drummer Joey Castillo from BL’AST!, and singer Crazy Tom Davis from DFL. They provided an interesting SoCal hardcore counterpoint to SLF’s European Spirit of ’77 style.

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In between, my pal Jack Long’s band White Dove played the Satellite. I can walk to the club from my house so how could I miss them? White Dove carries on the twisted punk roots tradition of L.A. bands like Gun Club and Flesheaters but filtered through the patient restraint of Mazzy Star or Opal. I love their song “Come on into Hell” and was stoked when they opened with it. Look for the band’s new 7″ single to start showing up at record stores soon…

Afterward, I stuck around for some Drinking Flowers and got into their psychedelic rock with surf riffs. A cool band that was having a lot of fun.

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So many more rad shows coming up, including Hot Snakes and White Murder at Alex’s Bar and then Descendents and OFF! at the Fox Theater. I’m extra excited about taking my six-year-old daughter to see King Tuff at Amoeba Hollywood next week. Eloise loves his last album from beginning to end, and is going to tear it up in the aisles. And then there’s the Save Music in Chinatown benefit that my wife and I are throwing next month, but that deserves its own post(s)…

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