Cool shows: The Dream Syndicate, Mike Watt & The Secondmen, Baja Bugs, King Tuff, TV on the Radio

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Cleaning out the SD card and airing out some of the better photos before they are banished to the hard drive. Above: The Dream Syndicate freaking out at the Echoplex (November 22, 2014).

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Froth at the Echoplex (November 22, 2014). They opened for The Dream Syndicate and were kind of like Phaseshifter-era Redd Kross with more droning.

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The Dream Syndicate at the Echoplex (November 22, 2014). So noisy, so refined, such perfect songwriting and execution by the self-described “just a punk band from L.A.”

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The Dream Syndicate at the Echoplex (November 22, 2014). Key songs: When You Smile, Tell Me When It’s Over, Halloween, Medicine Show, That’s What You Always Say, Days of Wine and Roses.

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Backbiter at Cafe NELA (November 21, 2014). The Raji’s regulars ended their sludgy-but-never-dragging set with a badass cover of “Kick Out The Jams.”

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Mike Watt & The Secondmen at Cafe NELA (November 21, 2014). Loved their Echoplex set earlier in the week, but this one was much cozier and heavier and they played “The Red and the Black”! Afterward, I handed them flyers and said thanks for the next Save Music in Chinatown show that they’re playing…

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Neverland Ranch Davidians at Cafe NELA (November 21, 2014). Stripped-down, and sweaty punkabilly trio led by Tex Mosley.

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Baja Bugs at Rebecca’s in South Park (November 8, 2014). Saw our pal Hector Penalosa (My Revenge, The Zeros) play with his ripping early Beatles band at a benefit for cats and dogs. So much fun, such a great guy.

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Colleen Green and La Sera at the El Rey (November 6 2014). Perfect openers for King Tuff’s homecoming show. Musically cool as a cucumber and sweet as sunshine, respectively.

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King Tuff at the El Rey (November 6 2014). Recently saw KT at Amoeba (and the car wash) but had to see him again in a full-on concert. The new album is awesome and his live show is a blast.

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TV on the Radio at the Fonda (November 22, 2014). After digging TVOTR at the massive Hollywood Bowl a couple of times, I got to preview the band’s great new songs in a theater. Instant classics along with old favorites, and later I got to meet the great Kyp Malone from Jon Moritsugu’s Scumrock, too. But that’s another story for another post…

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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)…