Adolescents and friends at the Observatory, Steve Soto and friends at the Slidebar

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Can there really be too much of a good thing? That’s what I pondered while driving down to the Adolescents show behind the Orange Curtain on Saturday night. Love the Adolescents, Weirdos, and Channel Three. Have been wanting to see The Stitches and The Widows. So how could I not go or not see them all?

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I didn’t know much about The Widows except that they are opening for the Adolescents at The Casbah after Christmas. Invited by the headliners to drive up from San Diego to join them in O.C., too? Good enough for me. Dug their garage punk melodies with a surf vibe mixed in, Beach Boulevard style, and they get bonus points because one of the members had his family including a bunch of kids right in front.

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I’m still not totally used to seeing Channel Three play bigger stages like this. More channeling of The Clash, less fucking around. They have a seriously great set list with “I Wanna Know Why,” “I Got a Gun,” and “Indian Summer,” mixing fun and riffs like no other band–and tighter from a lot of touring this year. They not only brought along Maria Montoya for “You Make Me Feel Cheap” but Santa Claus for “Blue Christmas.” Some of my favorite dudes ever and one of my favorite bands ever, too. And that was before they played a benefit for my daughter’s school last year…

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Can’t believe it took me this long to see The Stitches. The Spirit of ’77 punk band from Orange Country really brings it live, just like they do on 7″ singles, comps, EPs, and albums. Mike Lohrman and Johnny Witmer have a cool wild frontman/stoic axe player dialog that’s up there with Mick and Keef, Johansen and Thunders, and Iggy and anyone…

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It says a lot that the first-generation L.A. punks are still weird in comparison to any other band on the planet. The Weirdos’ extra bass-heavy set started off like Wilson Pickett but derailed into darkness right away. “Destroy All Music,” “Life of Crime,” “We Got The Neutron Bomb,” and all the hits never get old because their cool mix of art, noise, and fun will always be always be ahead of everyone else.

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Before the headliners went on, the punk’s greatest hits played over the house sound system shifted into songs about the law: Black Flag, NWA, The Clash, Junior Murvin, KRS-One. The playlist put the music of the Adolescents in a completely current political context instead of a hardcore oldies one. Perfect since the band’s most recent album was largely a reaction to the unpunished killing of homeless man Kelly Thomas by the Fullerton police. Singer Tony Adolescent dedicated “Kids of the Black Hole” to Utah cosplayer Darrien Hunt who was shot by cops for carrying a toy sword as a Samurai Champloo character. Awesome.

I found out a couple of days later that the band’s message of solidarity amongst underdogs was totally lost on a meathead between the barricade and stage who socked a fellow photographer that was shooting as a favor for the band. WTF? Now there are predatory jocks in the photo pit as well as the slam pit? What a sad statement about any sort of scene or humans in general.ssbw1-o

So it was a welcome change of atmosphere to catch an evening of acoustic and roots music by punks at the Slidebar arranged by Adolescents co-founder Steve Soto. First up was Otisserie, a.k.a. O., a.k.a. the beloved sound guy, principal member of Olive Lawn and fluf, legendary skateboard and music designer photographer, and namesake of an off-the-menu juice and soda drink at the World Famous Casbah. The San Diego institution played songs from his old bands as well as ultra sad, ultra heavy acoustic numbers that will be released one of these days.

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Johnny and Jay from Old Man Markley, played a fired-up set of bluegrass originals and covers that included loving takes on Descendents, Ronnie Spector, and even Sublime. These guys have chops that go on forever and their possibly drunken banter is next-level, too.

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Steve Soto and Allison June make a sick combination with his heartbreaking songs about the devil (an ex) and personal ones about his mom (who was present) and her killer pipes. Mitch Townsend provided otherworldly atmosphere with his slide guitar and gang of effects pedals. Lovely and bold, and a nice counterpoint to seeing Steve with the Adolescents just nights before. So different to be hanging on every word instead of singing along…

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I’ve seen Sean Wheeler and Zander Schloss with their bands (Sean is from Throw Rag, Zander is associated with Joe Strummer, Circle Jerks, Thelonious Monster, and, yes, The Weirdos) but never as a duo. They complement shamelessly raw emotion with ungodly talent and sound sort of like gospel arrived at through hard living and AA meetings. It’s at once heartfelt and sad and beautiful: a slow-motion train wreck gorgeously framed from a perfect angle.

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Afterward, I thanked Steve for arranging such a great evening of music and told him how much I look forward to seeing him play our next Save Music in Chinatown benefit. He’s as generous as he is talented as he is ripping, the show happens exactly one month from today, and I hope to see you there as well….

Hello, Lisa Fancher of Frontier Records/Dangerhouse Records Night at Part Time Punks

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Right: The Weirdos at The Echoplex (December 13, 2013)

Cracking open the Dangerhouse singles box distributed by Frontier Records is like opening a can of kickass right in your face. The raw, explosive sound of first-generation L.A. punk is loaded with art, rebellion, and fun. And what a mixture of styles: Way-out noise from the Weirdos, dug-up roots from X, leftist muckraking from The Dils, straight-up punk from Avengers, the conflicted sounds of The Bags, art damage from Black Randy, rock that doesn’t suck from The Alley Cats… And who was in the Eyes, Bags, and Deadbeats again?

So when I heard that Frontier’s Lisa Fancher was setting up a concert with many of the Dangerhouse bands, I bought a ticket right away. And upon discovering that a friend of mine was handling press for the show at the Echoplex, how could I not send her some questions about it? Check out Lisa’s answers and see you at The Echoplex on Sunday, November 9 when The Weirdos, Avengers, Deadbeats, Rhino 39, and Alley Cats are gonna rip it up.

Can you tell me about the connection between Frontier Records and Dangerhouse?
I’ve known David and Pat ever since they brought Dangerhouse singles into the Bomp! Store circa ’77 or ’78. Actually I knew David from The Screamers, too. After the Me Want Breakfast comp, I thought all the Dangerhouse material should be out officially. Let’s just say it was a hellish process!

What instigated this awesome concert?
Michael Stock and I literally started talking about it the night of the Frontier show. We were high on how well it did and  several tumblers of victory Jameson. The Frontier show was a nightmare of logistics and bands jockeying for the best spot. The Dangerhouse show has been painless, which I find terrifying.

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Left: The Weirdos at The Echoplex (December 13, 2013)

Your Frontier show with the Adolescents, T.S.O.L., The Middle Class, the Avengers, etc., was amazing and there is some crossover between the two lineups and label rosters. I like to think punk was kinda like that back in the day with lots of incestuous but awesome mixing of families. Am I way off?
Well… Not many of the Dangerhouse bands crossed over into the hardcore years. Most broke up in the very early ’80s. There was some mixing of my earliest bands, though–yes!

I love how Frontier has been selling rad music nonstop, from punk to hardcore to Paisley Underground to pop. Do you think that confuses a lot of music fans who can be Nazis when it comes to styles of music?
Yes, and not necessarily in a good way. Punks hate everything that isn’t Frontier punk and they’re really missing out on the genius of Thin White Rope. One day maybe the twain shall meet!

I also love how you never stopped selling your old titles–the first Adolescents and Suicidal Tendencies records, for starters–and keep them out there and priced for the people. Do you have a philosophy behind that or that just how you do it?
All the records mean a lot to me and I insist on keeping them all in print because I think kids will always dig them. Some are only in print as MP3s as there’s little demand for physical product. I need to revive more titles in vinyl, but haven’t been able to keep everything available due to the economy crash. I’m still here, though!

The Burger crossovers are cool, too. How did that happen?
I think Danny Benair said I should approach them to do our cassettes. I did and they’ve been doing it ever since… Great guys but they need a vacation!

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Right: The Weirdos at The Echoplex (December 13, 2013)

Our mutual pal Adam told me that you came really close to releasing Jawbreaker. Got a story behind that?
Ugh, I can’t even talk about it–too painful. I begged them to let me put out Unfun when it was clear that label wasn’t treating them right… I loved JB so much, I was a stalker! I think I had a shot before Adam re-released them on Blackball but I wasn’t officially offered them. I think it’s great they control their own masters but Adam knows that if he gets bored, I’m just waiting in the wings!

How awesome is your essay in the new GEF book? I wish you’d do more writing because I’m sure there are way more stories… At the very least there should be an oral history of Frontier. Yes? No?
Glad you liked it, that was really a struggle… It’s sooo hard to remember stuff that happened 34 years ago. Glen has a great memory and totally busted me for fudging on dates. I even forgot he did his first LP cover for Frontier! Whoops. Writing I can nail in my sleep; I just need a memory transplant.

But yes, someone else needs to tackle my memoirs!

So is a second Frontier Records fest going to happen with The Three O’Clock, Red Cross, and Circle Jerks or what?
I’m gonna say no but Michael and I are nuts, so you never know! Liz from the Echo and I are gonna work on a new record swap meet, though. Stay tuned for news on that one!

Visit Frontier Records to stalk Lisa and get the goods and then visit Ticketfly for tickets to the show on Sunday, November 9. Unless, of course, you’re cheap like me and go to the Echo box office on a no-fee Friday to get yours for 20 bucks flat!