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DS Show Review: FEST 16 Gainesville – Day 3

As I soaked in all of the sights, sounds and smells of FEST 16 in days 1 and 2, I purposely tried to keep day 3 out of my mind.  Day 3 had some great bands that I couldn’t wait to check out, but I knew that getting to day 3 meant that FEST was coming to a close.

I don’t think I was the only one with the aforementioned sentiment, people were going after it hard Saturday night.  I could hear them outside singing and reveling into the wee hours.  I felt ok Sunday morning.  Got some food and coffee in me, and got ready to face the day.  T shirt game was not as important today as the forecast called for unseasonably cool temps.  High of 65 meant that I would don the only sweatshirt I brought.  It has the Chicago flag on the front of it, which prompted a shout of “Oh Calcutta!!” from an apparent Lawrence Arms fan.  After three nights of mayhem, we were delayed getting out the door.  I wanted to catch After the Fall, but we actually arrived too late for that and went straight to High Dive to catch Squirtgun doing a retrospective of all the bands they had been in.  If you don’t know Squirtgun, they are fronted by Mass Giorgini who is probably best known as owner and resident producer at Sonic Iguana.  Some major punk royalty has recorded at SI with Mass at the boards.  Squirtgun broke out some of those tunes in a solid set which included The Riverdales and Screeching Weasel.

Next we grabbed a bite at Harry’s Seafood Bar and Grille.  We could’ve heard Apologies I have none, but it was too cold to sit outside.  Sitting in a chain restaurant on Sunday afternoon did not do much to lift me out of the depression of FEST coming to an end.  After lunch, we cruised over to Bo Diddley to catch The Movielife.  I’ve been following these guys for a while and I real wanted to see them at Riot Fest, but a conflict messed that up.  Although they played in a tough spot, Sunday, Outdoors, afternoon, cool day, they represented.  Not my standout set of the FEST, but not bad.

After Movielife, we had some tough conflicts.  Mean Jeans, Toyguitar, Hiccup, and Ray Rocket (Teenage Bottlerocket).  My wife wanted to catch Ray, so we cruised over to Big Lou’s pizza for the show.  I grabbed a couple of beers to perk us up and we sat on the patio there sipping our brews as Ray got set up.  I’m so glad we caught this show, because he conveyed the hungover depressed malaise that everyone was feeling.  Ray asked us to bear with him as he had spent the previous night going door to door at Holiday Inn with The Dopamines.  Paint your own picture there.  As the cool breeze blew through, Ray gave us a solid but chill set, the perfect cure to what ailed us.  He played “Do you wanna go to Tijuana,” dedicated to his twin brother Brandon who passed away in 2015, and covered The Ramones “Pet Sematary.”

The Ray Rocket set definitely perked us up.  We cruised over to Tall Paul’s and caught some of Makewar’s set.  We bellied up to the bar and threw down some of their brewed-in-house craft beer.  The habanero-spiced pale ale stole the show.  It brought the heat!!  We had to cut out of Makewar to get a good spot for Smoking Popes.  Being from Chicago, my wife and I are both big Popes fans.  The Popes never disappoint.  They’ve been around a long time and they know what people want to hear.  They bring the hits one after the other.  They played my fave “No More Smiles” as well as “Megan,” “Paul,” “Rubella.”  One of the many highlights of this set was their cover of MC5’s “Ramblin’ Rose.”  And of course they played “Need You Around.”  When it came to playing Bo Diddley, some bands sounded better than others, but the Popes really rocked this stage.  Safe to say, this set was up there in the top 5 of FEST.

Iron Chic hit the Bo Diddley stage next, so we hung around for that.  IC had a very lively crowd and their brand of punk rock really got the people moving and singing along.  You could tell people were amped for this band.  We watched the set from afar, but we already had tickets to see them in Chicago in December, so we cut out to check some other sets.  We caught Kamikaze Girls at the Wooly.  I have no recollection of it.  I remember bouncing across the street to The Atlantic where Machinist! was playing.  I only caught the last song, wish I had seen more.  This mad dash ended at Rockey’s where we caught the last few songs from The Raging Nathans.  We must’ve been in the right place as a few dignitaries were on hand such as OWTH’s Ryan Young.

One of the reasons I broke the bank and travelled down to FEST this year was Superchunk.  I’ve seen them a handful of times; the first time in 1993.  At one point I remember thinking to myself, “I’m going to buy every Superchunk album that ever comes out.”  Well who knew they would put out like 40 records!?!  I don’t have them all, but I have a lot of them.  So we trekked over to Bo Diddley to catch Sunday’s headliner, Superchunk.  For one, they sounded great.  I’ll give them that.  They didn’t play the full 90 minutes, which was a bit of a bummer.  They also threw in some random tunes like “Hello Hawk” and “I Got Cut.”  Deep cuts aside, they also dropped some fan favorites like: “Slack Motherfucker, Sick to Move, Driveway to Driveway, Hyper Enough, Precision Auto, and Seed Toss.”  The ‘Chunk brought the goods and sent the main stage out in grand fashion.

The main stage might have been done, but we were not!  We popped over to The Wooly, grabbed a brew and caught Meat Wave.  Their new album, “The Incessant” is on my list of the best of 2017.  These guys rock the 3 piece like Alkaline Trio or Husker Du; although their sound is more like Big Black.  I’m definitely going to catch these guys again.  After MW, I made a fatal error.  I decided we should hit Durty Nelly’s to catch Dingus.  For one, I had the complete wrong band.  I guess there are two Dingus’s (Dingi?).  Unfortunately, the one I planned to see was recording an album in Belgium at the time.  I sat there for about a half hour completely confused.  When we came to our senses, I looked my wife in the eye and I could tell she was done.  40 shows over 3 days will tend to wear you out.  I was running on fumes as well.  We decided to call it quits.  I had hoped to catch Night Witch, Teen Agers, and Tiltwheel; but I will have to wait for them to come to town.

We survived FEST 16, and had an amazing time!  One thing is for sure, we will be marking our calendars for the lineup announcement for FEST 17.  We will be back!



Behind The Album: Big D And The Kids Table – “Porch Life” & Melt Banana Split 7-inch (2003)

Words by Big D And The Kids Table front man David McWane

It was now 2003 and Big D’s van wasn’t running, so we had a lot of time off. And what better to do when your band is stranded for the summer than to make a Gangsta Rap version of your tunes? Being a fan of Rap & Hip-Hop and also loving the art of creating music, I wanted to see what it was like to put songs together in these genres. I went back to the old recording model of tempting Lammi with some beer and fun. Lammi and I spent the summer making Porch Life, a hilarious collection of Rap & Hip-hop versions of Big D songs.

However, once completed we learned harshly that not everyone has the same humor. This was the beginning of Big D pissing people off and disappointing listeners to a curiously high level. And we would be sure to continue this trend.

Porch Life got reviewed by well known punk publications. 1-star or 2-stars, that was our professional ratings for this release, followed by angry nail-breaking typed comments like ‘How could they go to Hip-hop?’. This is when it dawned on Big D that people actually took us seriously and that’s not the way to look at this band. Big D never had the goal to be famous or make it in the music industry. I always say that there are people who want to be in a band and then there are musicians. Music itself has always been our payment. People showing up and having a chat with us has always been our payment. Making the band a strict business to which the mission is to write songs for the public and not ourselves hoping to cash in is simply a different person’s goals. For me, music and love are the last pure things you can carry with yourself after childhood and I am not keen on poisoning either. We made this album, for the same reason we make all of our albums – because it’s fun. To reiterate, we have never wanted to construct verses and choruses for mass appeal, rather we do it to impress each other and would rather someone passionately hate our songs than to forfeit our music to the uncreative, the unhumorous, the sophomaniac, deconstuionist, curmudgeons of this world. Yuck.

I mean to be serious for a moment, how can you give Porch Life 1-star when it has Sully B. Nuts prank phone calls sprinkled through it?

Moving on…

It’s no secret that Melt Banana is one of my all time favorite bands and to keep with the trend of pissing the public off we did a split 7” with them. For me this was a dream come true. It was humbling with little sparks of feeling proud flashing in my heart. Our fans didn’t really care for the release and Melt Banana fans showed their canines to us at the show we played together at T. T. The Bears in Cambridge MA. Maybe the public didn’t know that RUN DMC and Slayer played shows together or that The Mighty Mighty Bosstones & Slap Shot were brothers in the scene. However, to be fair not everyone lacked the understanding of why this 7” was neat. A few SKA-Punx’ers and Noise Core’ers knew the score.

My favorite music memory of all time is when I went to the back of T. T.s and Yako the singer of Melt Banana was there and she said to me, “I love your voice.”

And I know my hero would have never said that…if I had decided to cater to the masses.

—-

Tune in next week for another Big D “Behind The Album” piece. They’ll continue weekly until all 34+ Big D albums have been covered!



Behind The Album: “The Gipsy Hill” ep & “Look What You’ve Done…” (2002)

Words by Big D And The Kids Table front man David McWane

Good Luck had been officially released through Asianman records by Mike Park. Mike offered us the first and only generous act for Big D. He fronted us plane tickets to go on our first U.K./Europe Tour, booked by Ian at Hidden Talent Booking. Big D started writing music on tour and you can hear raw recordings of us doing just that on the Gipsy Hill EP. Gipsy Hill is in South London and it is where we stayed on the floor with our TM / Driver / Life Teacher Ben Corrigan. On these tours we made friends with people who we are still friends with today: Lightyear, P.O. Box, Sonic Boom Six, The Foamers, Mad Skat, 5 Knuckle, Random Hand (Marcia from The Skints), Hard Skin and more. We toured hard during these days – about 250 shows a year.

When we returned to the States we decided to record somewhere new, so we saved up all our touring profits (which wasn’t very much) and headed to The Outpost with Jim Siegel. Jim had recorded most of all the classic Boston hardcore bands and The Dropkick Murphy’s. This was the big time for Big D. We had written way too many new songs after Good Luck, so we decided to record an EP in order to free up ideas as well as capture sonically the special time in our lives in the U.K./Europe. STOMP records in Canada agreed to put out the Gipsy Hill EP and even helped us film with Rej our first music video for The Difference. We had a blast with Matt, Mike and all of the STOMP records family and of course with Rej from 123-Punk. These shows in Canada were explosive. We were at our wildest.

Along with the Gipsy Hill EP we recorded three different tracks for a split release with the U.K. band 5 Knuckle called Look What You’ve Done.… This split has the original recording of L.A.X, which wasn’t physically available to the States until our next full length release.

When I think about these times I feel that Good Luck represented touring the United States and the farmlets across it, while the Gipsy Hill EP / Look What You’ve Done represent, Canada, England, France, Netherlands, Germany, Luxembourg, Switzerland, Austria, Czech Republic, Italy and more. It represents cold squats, cigarette butt floors for sleeping, new friends, tasty big beers, yummy food, heartbreakingly beautiful hospitality, fist fights for being an American, a sprinter for a home, the birth of poetry for me and beautiful friendship.

The question I was often asked on these excursions of self discovery was – ‘American’s need more culture, why don’t more Americans come here?’ My answer then is what I still say today – ‘American’s can’t afford it, they’d loose their jobs and health care; Only fortunate Americans can afford culture’.

So I will leave you with this…

…if you are young or if you are old, own very little and go see Your World.

—-

Tune in next week for another Big D “Behind The Album” piece. They’ll continue weekly until all 34+ Big D albums have been covered!



Where Do We Go From Here? – Thoughts On Hatred And Tolerance In Our Community

Before I go too deep into the abyss here, allow me to preface this piece by explaining, perhaps unnecessarily, that the thoughts that follow are mine. I don’t pretend to speak for anyone else on the Dying Scene staff, past, present or future.

With that out of the way, I’m going to do a bit of stating of the obvious for a second; shit, right now, is pretty fucked. The catalyst for this piece, as you might have guessed by now, is the lead up to — and fallout from — whatever took place on the Barb Wire Dolls/Svetlanas/57 tour last week that resulted in two of the three international bands jettisoning that tour just after the halfway mark. I thought it was important to clarify a few points from the initial story that broke, to shut down a few of the more quantum leaps that have been made about what happened, and to expound on a few of the points that I made personally that I think are particularly salient but that might have been lost in the noise.

Dying Scene was not present at Jewel Nightclub in Manchester, New Hampshire, last Friday when the aforementioned tour rolled through. I, myself, was present the night before in Somerville, MA, where the photo gallery you may have seen on these pages came from. (Another writer was present at, and took pictures at, an earlier show on tour.) I interacted positively with members of all three touring bands, and saw them interacting positively with one another (including Svetlanas’ drummer Diste and Barb Wire Dolls’ drummer, Crash, collaborating to help fix a broken kick drum). I enjoyed the hell out of the show. I can – and did – attest personally to the passion that both bands have for their own respective music, as both bands play just as intense whether they’re in front of a crowd of 50, 500, or 5,000. I can attest personally to how passionately Barb Wire Dolls, Svetlanas, and 57, the latter of whom totally caught me by surprise, believe in their product and their music. Based on how the night went, I strongly contemplated heading north the following evening for the show in Manchester, my old stomping grounds. In hindsight, I wish I had gone; not because I could have done anything to fix the situation that I certainly didn’t see coming, but at least to accurately quantify what did, and did not, happen.

According to statements made by both Svetlanas and Barb Wire Dolls as bands and by their individual members, there seems to be consensus that there was an individual that was wearing, at least, an SS skull patch, in addition to what seems to have been an anti-Communist back patch. Again, members of both bands seem to be at odds about a lot in the last few days, obviously, but at least seem to be in agreement about that. Both bands also seem to be in agreement that death threats were made by this individual toward Svetlanas and toward 57 following a confrontation at the show. I wasn’t there, nor were the vast majority of people reading these words. But, statements released by members of both bands who were present seem to support those facts.

I made a comment in the story I posted over the weekend that I was saddened, but not surprised, that an individual wearing an SS skull patch would show up to a show in New Hampshire. I’m not surprised, because I’ve seen it before. Not at Jewel, to be sure, as I’ve never been there. Traditionally, the show calendar at Jewel has trended to the more metal end of the spectrum, which isn’t my personal cup of tea, so I haven’t had the occasion to go. I don’t think that Jewel is a hotbed of Nazi-related activity by any stretch of the imagination. I’ve never heard rumors to the effect that such individuals hang out there, and in fact the word on the street about the place has been increasingly positive since they changed management a while back. I don’t pretend to know the identity of the patch-wearer and subsequent threat-maker in question, and by all accounts, it was an isolated, unfortunate incident that snowballed for myriad reasons. The vitriol in the comment sections here and elsewhere on the internet — I know, I know…don’t read the comments — ran the gamut from praising one band, excoriating the other (and of course vice versa), calling them fake punk, calling Svetlanas fake Russian (is that a thing) and stating that Dying Scene was going to get rolled if we continue support Commies. Gotta admit, I’m still a bit flummoxed by that last one. And all of it — all of it — misses the point. 

No, I said that I was saddened by not surprised because I’ve seen it before in other places, and in other isolated incidents. The swastika spray-painted on the synagogue that family friends in my hometown in southern New Hampshire worshipped in when we were kids were isolated incidents. The racist graffiti that would get scrawled in the dugouts of the Babe Ruth League dugouts we played in from time to time were isolated incidents. The racist graffiti scrawled on the side of a memorial to two of the first professional African-American baseball players in my old hometown was an isolated incident. The Nazi graffiti found on college campuses in Keene and Durham in recent years were isolated incidents. The racist graffiti scrawled across various locations in Concord a few years ago by a local tattoo shop owner were isolated incidents. The individuals that I’ve seen – with my own eyes – walking downtown Manchester with swastika patches, or the incident of racial hatred and subsequent retaliation by fairly well-known anti-racist group that I witnessed outside now-defunct venue in Portsmouth were isolated incidents.

You know what else were isolated incidents? Boosie Badazz last weekend. The church in Texas last weekend. Las Vegas a month ago. New York City a couple weeks ago. The Pulse in Orlando. San Bernadino. Aurora. Sandy Hook. Virginia Tech. The Bataclan. The Ariana Grande show. Dimebag Darrell. They were all isolated incidents. They all happened in places that people are supposed to feel safe and to find solace from the day-to-day bullshit that we all deal with for however long we’re lucky enough to actually be alive and a part of this planet; concerts, schools, churches, movie theaters, shopping malls. The frequency with which events like those above and countless others have occurred with has left some of us – many of us – feeling desensitized; saddened but not surprised.

We tread into murky waters sometimes in the punk rock world because, at the core, the scene is rebellious, especially in the northeast; let’s not forget that some people’s patron saint of all things punk rock, GG Allin, was not coincidentally born and subsequently laid to rest in New Hampshire. It’s a home for the homeless, a beacon for those who feel disenfranchised. It’s confrontational. It encourages you to fuck authority and confront bullshit and question the answers. Hell, one of the things I praised about the Svetlanas gig in Somerville last night was how aggressive and brazenly in-your-face Olga is. That’s part of the draw, and part of what makes them the most “dangerous band in punk,” just like it was part of the draw to have a Korean band and an outspoken ex-Russian band touring the USA – Donald Trump’s USA – with a band formed by natives of Greece. Confrontation and provocation are not uncommonly part of the deal, and that’s fine. 

So if a band or any of its members or an audience member or a club owner or a movie theater patron or a church patron feels a little spooked by somebody or something at the place they go – we all go – to find solace and support and shut off the outside world for a while, that’s important, and it’s valid and for god’s sake it happens all the time in all walks of life, and so you can’t blame them anyone for getting spooked. 

Look, gang; we’re all in this together – showgoers, band members, promoters, club owners, photographers, soundboard operators, stage crew, bartenders, coat check staff. We have an obligation to stand up to hatred, bigotry, racism, sexism, homophobia. We have an obligation to look after each other and to take care of each other and to keep giving voice to the voiceless and hope to the hopeless and to be a beacon for the disenfranchised. We have to talk to each other and listen to each other and more importantly go to bat for each other by speaking the fuck up and shining a light on the intolerant bullshit. That’s the only way this all works. Shit’s fucked, but it doesn’t have to be.

Peace and love

-J



Behind The Album: Big D And The Kids Table – “Good Luck” (1999)

Words by Big D And The Kids Table front man David McWane

After the release of Shot By Lammi in 1996, Big D toured the States non-stop. Videotape footage of the band on these early tours was captured and can be found on Big D’s Dvd ‘Built Up From Nothing’. We look like puppies. To this day I don’t know how a bunch of 18 & 19 year olds saved up for a van and drove around the U.S. playing music, meeting new friends and laughing endlessly. It was an 8 passenger van and we had 10 musicians. I sat on the back wheel hub and we took turns sitting on a cushion in between the driver seat and shotgun.

We had always been close, but now we were officially brothers and you could hear that in the new songs we were writing for our second full length ‘Good Luck’. The official Big D writing process had solidified itself with the writing of Good Luck. Every idea was positively excepted and worked on. Every musician was encouraged to write a song. We wrote for ourselves and not for the public and still do to this day. Listeners had learned the lyrics to Shot By Lammi and sung them at shows. This made me want to really give them something useful for Good Luck. The process of writing the lyrics began one afternoon when I was walking down a snow covered street in Boston. A homeless man with vitiligo crashed into me grabbing my jacket to stop him from falling to the ice. He looked at me with his green eyes and said, “The only thing I miss is myself”. I wrote most of those lyrics walking down the streets of Boston, occasionally huddling in doorways to write a line here and there. The band was now becoming important to me.

When the songs were finished we did the same process – we went to Big Sound recording in Maine when it was closed and recorded for 24 hours for three days. Again, I believe we only gave Lammi another 300-bucks and some beer. The recording process was simply laughter and music. Afterward I got together with Gary Hedrick (singer of Kicked In The Head) and we put together the artwork. All of the 1950’s clip art was from my families encyclopedia that I used through out my earlier school days and still have today. I may use it again for Big D’s next album. Gary worked on Photoshop 1 on a Mac Performa; It took one full day to render. We had a blast together; Possibly our best time together.

Big D has never been a fortunate band when it comes to connections and opportunity. We have seldom been excepted by them ‘cool bands’. I have always described us as the orphans of the scene. However, persistence is a gift. There have been three kind people in Big D’s 21 years thus far, and the first one to make his introduction is – Mike Parkof Asianman records.

Through this somewhat new thing called email, Mike said he would put Good Luck out on his label. Most of Big D live together at the time and non of us had cellphones yet, so I put a note on Sean P. Rogan’s bed that said – ‘We got signed to Asianman – Meet us at the bar’. And he did.

This band that had been created simply so that 10 freaks could have a fun Friday night was now about to bring the ruckus.

—-

Tune in next week for another Big D “Behind The Album” piece. They’ll continue weekly until all 34+ Big D albums have been covered!



Behind The Album: Big D And The Kids Table – Live EP & Lounge Split

Words by Big D And The Kids Table front man David McWane

1998, a year after the release of Shot By Lammi, Big D and the Kids Table started playing shows all around the east-coast. We never paid ourselves and we wouldn’t for many years to come. We wouldn’t even use the money to buy ourselves food, we just put the money back into the band – gas, merch and saving up for our first van. One Boston night, a fan showed up to a show named Shawn Flores, he came with gifts – printed Big D t-shirt and Big D patches. He told us that the ones we printed were crappy and that the ink ran off in the rain. We have been printing our merch with Shawn ever since. Steve Foote and myself decided to start building on the idea of Fork In Hand records. We started finding bands like ourselves that could appreciate a little help. Steve and myself knew how these bands could get their music recorded, print a CD, print some merch and book some shows. The first three bands we decided to help were Kicked In The Head, The Sellouts & The Mission 120. We started booking this line up in every VFW, church or basement. Fork In Hand records was now a well known underground Boston label. Steve and I never took a penny, we just put all profits into F.I.H. band’s music.

People kept talking about our “explosive” live show, so we decided to capture that energy in a Live EP. You can hear Kicked In The Head’s Matt & Gary announce us at the start. Big D couldn’t believe that we now could actually record live club recordings and print them on compact disc. The next year the label Montalban Hotel offered to print a 7” vinyl release with the band Lounge. Again we were dumbfounded, ‘someone wants to print us vinyl and we don’t have to pay for it or do any of the efforts to make it happen. And it’s green!?!?’.

All this time we were writing our next full length album that would be released the following year.

—-

Tune in next week for another Big D “Behind The Album” piece. They’ll continue weekly until all 34+ Big D albums have been covered!



Behind The Album: Big D And The Kids Table – “Crack / Shot By Lammi” (1996 / 1997)

Words by Big D And The Kids Table front man David McWane

The first Big D and The Kids Table release was a cassette titled Crack. I can’t find an image of it. And Giving It Up was the first song we ever wrote. We went to a recording studio hidden in a Boston alley called Toxic Audio. Big D was simply a bunch of friends that wanted to play music together for fun and had no desires to be a real band or try and ‘make it’. We recorded our four songs and really enjoyed hearing our tunes played back. Jon Lammi, who played sax sometimes, guitar other times, said he could record us a full album at Big Sound in Maine when it was closed. It was then that we decided to write Shot By Lammi. We drove up to Maine and recorded the album in a weekend. I remember recording my vocals from about 4AM to sometime. We paid Lammi $300 and some beer.

After Shot By Lammi was recorded we had plans to manufacture cassettes, which was the standard medium. However, one day as I was walking down the streets of Boston I bumped into my friend Tom Appleman. He showed me that his band Epileptic Disco had just printed a Compact Disc aka CD. I couldn’t believe that people like us could have the ability to print this new fancy medium. We did a little research and this began the DIY ethic that Big D would later be known for. The band left Sean P. Rogan and myself to do the artwork. I had no idea what to do, so I put an old family photo on the cover and scratched up the lyrics and liner notes. The layout was done physically – no computers or photoshop.

We decided to start a record label called Fork In Hand records, inspired by Asianman Records. We did this because our friends who were in another band called DREXEL couldn’t afford to print their newly recorded album, so we decided to put their music on our CD as well, because compact discs held so much information that purchasers of the album could get two albums for one.

We pretty much were done with our goals as a band until Epileptic Disc asked us to play a show at The Middle East with Broke & Big Lick. We couldn’t believe we were asked to play a real show and we couldn’t believe we were going to play in a proper club.

We sold Shot By Lammi by meeting up with people on the street that had found a way to contact us. We really enjoyed the record, because we liked hearing what our friendship sounded like.

—-

Tune in next week for another Big D “Behind The Album” piece. They’ll continue weekly until all 34+ Big D albums have been covered!



DS Editorial & Show Review: Worldwide Street Generation (Barb Wire Dolls, Svetlanas & 57)

By Michael Sorensen

Don’t judge a book by its cover. That’s what we’re taught as young future forward independent thinkers. However, on December 27th, 2014, I came across an online ad for a band called Barb Wire Dolls playing at the now defunct Blank Club in San Jose. Although not familiar with their music, their name suggested they don’t play smooth jazz and their look supported my suspicion that they may be brewing up my cup of tea.

What I witnessed that night was one of the most memorable live shows I can recall. This band didn’t aim to reinvent the wheel, but rather execute upon a blueprint laid out by one of their main influences – Darby Crash of The Germs. Play loud fast rock n’ roll music with bollocks, delivered with a dose of authenticity!

Hailing from the Greek island of Crete, the band was formed by singer Isis Queen and guitarist Pyn Doll. The band was born of the Ikarus Artist Commune, an elusive retreat in the mountains of Avdou. The commune, co-founded by Pyn, is a place where like-minded residents spend their time pursuing their artistic endeavors and surfing the legendary Cretan coast.

After crafting their sound while playing shows in their native Greece, Barb Wire Dolls were discovered by KROQ host Rodney Bingenheimer – who’s also responsible for discovering such relatively unknown bands as Sex Pistols, Guns N’ Roses, and Nirvana. It’s safe to say that Rodney’s attention casts a bright light. The Barb Wire Dolls did what many have done before – sold their belongings and embarked on a pilgrimage to Hollywood. Their journey, however, was a bit longer than the American bands before them. In December of 2010, the Dolls made history by becoming the first Greek band to play in America, and oh by the way it was a sold out show at The Roxy.

The band capitalized on this debut by touring relentlessly, playing over 300 shows between 2012 and 2013! Their omnipresent tour-de-rock eventually led to the eternal godfather of loud fast music, our rock n roll warlord Lemmy Kilmister, who upon hearing the Dolls personally signed them to his newly created label. With a new home at Motorhead Music, they continue to tour, record, and surf all over the world.

The first time I met the people behind this sonic rock n’ roll force was Super Bowl Sunday in February of 2015. The Barb Wire Dolls had announced a secret show in their practice space at KOOS Studio in San Pedro, and I just happened to be in Southern California for work anyway. I showed up at the studio and watched the Barb Wire Dolls deliver another epic frenzied performance to about a dozen people, most of whom I assume were from other bands and just happened to be in the studio practicing. After the set I introduced myself to Isis, Pyn, and drummer Krash. This was before Lemmy had caught wind of them and they were talking about shopping their record around to labels, looking for the right fit. In true DIY fashion, Isis hooked me up with a hand-numbered, white label copy of their unreleased album – complete with lipstick on the sleeve. We talked about surfing spots, punk music, and their upcoming trip back home to Greece.

I would go on to see Barb Wire Dolls another 8 times over the next 2 years between the Bay Area, Hollywood, and Vegas. Each time they would attract new Street Generation converts and amass a larger global following. However, their work ethic, DIY roots, and humility are always intact. They are always available before and after the show to say hello, and they always remember old friends from the shows over the years.

That brings us to now. As the fates would have it, while I’m on a 2-month homecoming from Asia, the Barb Wire Dolls are back in San Francisco with one of the most incredible international lineups I’ve ever seen, including the Svetlanas from Russia and 57 from South Korea. As I arrived at the DNA Lounge, Pyn was leaning against the wall outside, coffee in one hand and a cigarette in the other. Krash was in line at the next-door pizza place, carbing up for the show, while Isis Queen was upstairs reacquainting herself with old friends near the merch table (featuring items custom made by Isis herself).

Like the Dolls did before them, 57 are one of the first South Korean bands to tour the U.S., and oh my lord did they bring the noise! I may be dating myself here, but they are a rock duo similar in makeup to alternative ’90’s band Local H, featuring only guitar and drums. The similarities end there, and please don’t let their lack of band personnel dissuade you from thinking they aren’t an absolute sonic powerhouse. As soon as these two otherwise quiet and restrained individuals took the stage, they unleashed a barrage of frenzied guitars and chaotic drum-beats featuring constantly changing time signatures and effects. Their sound can best be described as if At The Drive ordered a Dillinger Escape Plan with a side of Lo-Fi garage goodness.

Next up was Svetlanas. Wanna know how you’ve earned your stripes in the punk scene? Well, being banned from your home country would certainly do it. Having been described as the most dangerous band in the world, Svetlanas certainly live up to the title by being labeled enemies of the state due to their confrontational brand of political dissent. Constantly on the road while in exile from their homeland, it’s safe to say they are certainly not here to sway the outcome of any election. Rather, they want to deliver their consistent message complete with a pair of middle fingers in the air. The band’s singer and primary energy source is the pint-sized Olga, but please don’t underestimate this agent of chaos. While the band is on stage, Olga is bouncing around across the entire venue. If you are within her sights, she will be up in your face screaming lyrics like “no hope no way” and “let’s get drunk”, accompanied by the intense stares of a woman possessed. You will not be comfortable while they are performing, but isn’t that what we all came here for?!

Finally, Isis Queen hit the stage and proclaimed, “We’re the Barb Wire Dolls and we play rock n’ roll.”. Truer words were never spoken! While they ripped through new cuts from their album Rub My Mind and staples like Revolution, they slowed it down for ballads like I Will Sail and Where Mountains Drink Wine. In addition to the core members, the current lineup includes bassist Iriel Blaque and a rhythm guitarist whose name I didn’t get. They are constantly expanding their sound and reaching new audiences the world over. I knew from the moment I heard them years ago that they would be an influential force in the live music scene for many years to come.

After their set, I caught up with Isis Queen, who remembered my white and red leather jacket. We briefly talked about NorCal surf spots, their new album, and my upcoming move to the Philippines. I attempted to lure the band there by mentioning the Pinoy surf jaunt Siargao.

So, there you have it. I just revealed one of the greatest kept secrets in music today – The Barb Wire Dolls. On a cold Tuesday night at DNA Lounge in San Francisco, myself and a couple dozen others witnessed one of the greatest international lineups the world has ever known. 57 was there. Svetlanas was there. Barb Wire Dolls was there. Blaq Dahlia from The Dwarves was there. Jello Biafra of Dead Kennedy’s fame was there. Were you there?!



DS Editorial: The Night I Videotaped Circle Jerks & Fear And Barely Lived To Tell About It

Words by Loren Kantor

In the winter of 1981, I responded to a backpage ad in Flipside, an independent zine covering the Los Angeles punk rock scene. The ad read: “Videographer needed to document local punk shows.” I’d spent several thousand dollars on a Panasonic video camera and was looking for a way to recoup the investment. I called the number and spoke with Boris, a man with a heavy Slavic accent. He told me to meet him on Wednesday night at the Stardust Ballroom, an old big band venue at the corner of Western & Sunset in East Hollywood.

All I had to do was videotape several hours of punk rock performances and Boris would pay me $300. It sounded simple enough. I’d been a drummer in high school with a love for prog-rock bands like Genesis and King Crimson. I didn’t know much about punk. I’d heard the Sex Pistols and the Clash. I figured punk was just another outlet for teen angst and rebellion, the essence of all rock ‘n’ roll.

The band list that night included the Circle Jerks, Fear and Black Flag. This would be an epic LA show, but I had no way of knowing this at the time. Boris met me outside the venue. He wore a dark sharkskin suit and his face was pockmarked with acne scars. He introduced me to El Duce, a local punk legend who would be my chaperone that evening. El Duce was a menacing singer for the “rape rock” band The Mentors. He was a bald Latino with a ratty beard, sanpaku eyes and a hairy belly protruding beneath a tight t-shirt. He was rude, crass and prone to spitting on and cursing women. (One of his songs included the lyrics, “Bend up and smell my anal vapor, your face is my toilet paper.”) Boris said, “As long as you stay near him no one will fuck with you.”

Boris said he’d meet me on the sidewalk after the show. I followed El Duce into the lobby past a mass of white teens wearing t-shirts and jeans. People gave El Duce a wide berth as he flashed the finger and made fart sounds with his lips. I noticed several skinheads beating the crap out of a longhair near the concession stand. I also had long hair. I turned on my video camera and started taping. My camera would be my invisibility cloak, my instrument of anonymity.

El Duce disappeared into the crowd leaving me without a security detail. I entered the performance space as the Circle Jerks were playing “Live Fast Die Young.” Singer Keith Morris thrashed around stage screaming indecipherable vocals into the microphone. The music was frenetic with distorted guitar, pulsing bass and hyperactive drums. I searched for a vantage point to position my camera. There was an opening left of stage, directly beneath a large amp. I turned on my portable light and carved through the crowd like a snowplow.

There were about 200 people in the audience. Most were calm except a few trying to start a mosh pit. As the Circle Jerks stormed through their playlist, the throng pushed against me and the slam dancing began in earnest. I was struck by a few wayward arm thrusts but I was more concerned for the camera than my own personal safety.

At the end of the set I followed the Circle Jerks backstage. I entered a small room with graffiti-covered walls, a torn couch and several broken chairs. Guitarist Greg Hetson thrust a beer into my hand. He urged me to roll camera as he yelled directly into the lens. “We’re making history tonight. LA is the center of the punk universe.” Someone else screamed, “The Pistols are pussies.” El Duce entered the room, dropped his pants and grabbed his testicles. Everyone was excited, caught in the magnitude of the evening.

That was when I sensed a menacing presence in the corner. He was a short, stocky man with close-cropped hair, muscular neck and piercing blue eyes. He was quiet and tense, oozing rage like a tiger caught in a steel trap. I pointed the camera toward him. He flipped me off and scowled. I turned away, intimidated. El Duce admonished me, “Don’t diss Lee, man. He’ll mess you up.” He referred to Lee Ving, the notorious lead singer of Fear. To this day I’ve never met a scarier human being.

I returned to the auditorium and was greeted by a stench of body odor and stale beer. The room was now packed with thousands of screaming, shirtless fans. My previous camera position was filled. I made a fateful decision, climbing atop the eight-foot high amplifier on the stage. From there I could tape the performance without anyone blocking my view. The sound might be muffled but I was clear of the mosh pit and out of harm’s way.

As Fear began their set, the crowd roared. Suddenly everything was chaos. Their first song was “I Love Livin’ In The City.” Moshers blitzed the stage and smashed into each other like bowling pins. Two beefy bouncers grabbed the aggressive fans and hurled them into the oscillating mass. A band member played an out-of-tune saxophone. Lee Ving stumbled backwards, bodies flying around him. At one point, he looked my way. This caught the crowd’s attention as if they suddenly noticed me for the first time.

I pointed the camera toward the crowd. This was a big mistake. A cup of beer hit me in the chest. Suddenly I felt the amplifier swaying. I looked down and saw two moshers rocking the amp back and forth. Fans cheered. Lee Ving thrust his fist in the air as if to signal his approval.

The amp toppled. I cradled my camera to my chest and prepared for impact. I fell headfirst into a horde of bodies and limbs. People began punching and kicking me. Someone yanked my hair. Others spit at me. I curled into a ball, making myself as small as possible. For some reason I focused on the song that was playing, “Beef Bologna.” I had the thought, “That’s a strange thing to write a song about.”

Someone grabbed me under the armpits and dragged me away. I’ve no idea who it was. He deposited me by the back wall, near the bathroom. My shirt was soaked from sweat and beer. My breathing was labored. I struggled to my feet and shuffled out of the venue. When I reached the sidewalk, I gulped for air. My nose was bleeding but my main concern was my camera. There was a dent in the camera body but it still worked. I pointed at the marquee and took one last shot. Then I staggered to my car and drove home.

The next morning the phone rang at 6:30. It was Boris. He wanted to know why I didn’t meet him after the show. I told him what happened. He wasn’t interested. All he cared was whether I recorded Black Flag. I told him no. He cursed in Slavic. He said there’d been a near riot and a tape of the show would be gold.

He asked if he could get the tape that morning. I told him my camera was damaged and I wanted extra money. He said he would only pay $200 since I didn’t record Black Flag. We agreed on $400. Before delivering the tape, I watched the footage. The performance shots were dark and the sound quality crackled. But the backstage shots of the Circle Jerks and Lee Ving looked great.

It would take a few weeks before my ribs and nose were back to normal. The trauma would take longer to heal. I don’t know why I didn’t make a copy of the tape. Maybe I wanted to put the incident behind me. That would be the last punk show I ever attended.



DS Editorial: A guide to FEST 16 preparation by an overly passionate first-timer

I have to admit something, and it’s not easy. I’m addicted to preparing for The Fest. A cure might be hopeless but I’m hoping that my story can help other like me – first time Fest goers looking for answers to some of the weekend’s logistical questions.

First things first. Lock down your tickets. Then I would suggest locking down your accommodations. The more I deal with the fest, the people, the website, the more I realize that it is meticulously organized and curated. More on that later, but I suggest that people stay in the hotels dedicated to the fest. The Holiday Inn is supposedly located right in the middle of the action. The whole thing is booked by Fest attendees and will thus be an absolute free-for-all during the entire event. I’m not sure I can handle that type of commitment. I booked at the Wyndham. Another Fest hotel that is supposedly a little more chill. Once again I have no frame of reference on this and we shall see. I should also mention that the Holiday Inn has some kind of Flea Market thing happening. I’ve got it pictured where venders and bands can sell merch and other trinkets that would appeal to Fest-goers. Once again, I’m not sure about this. Pure conjecture at this point.

Band Prep: Right now I’m in band-prep stage. You might want to follow my lead on this as it will help you get a handle on the 350 plus bands that are playing The Fest. I was hoping for something a little more user-friendly from the website, but when you’ve got over 100 bands playing a day, there’s probably no “perfect way” to convey the when and where for each band. It looks like this breaks down along philosophical and/or personal-preference lines. Are you looking to stay in one spot and get the most bang for your buck? Then you will be looking at the schedule by location. If you are committed to catching at least a piece of some of the bands on your wish list, then you can break the schedule down by date and time. At this point, I found that I could no longer work with the website, I needed to get some micro-organization going. So I copied the time and date schedules and dropped them into an excel spreadsheet. I broke them up with a tab for each day. I found with a little tinkering you can get the day’s entire schedule in chronological order: my choice for the best way to get a handle on what’s happening when and where.

Phew. Okay. Are you still with me? Step one was to highlight all the bands I definitely wanted to check out. I found it useful to start here and get an idea of what the skeleton of my schedule was gonna look like. I’ve got some locks as you might guess: Against Me (performing Reinventing Axl Rose), Superchunk, Smoking Popes, Hum, 88 Fingers Louie, Teenage Bottlerocket, The Movielife, Pegboy, Off With Their Heads, The Bigger Empty; you get the idea. I had a lot of other bands that I wanted to check as well, and I really want to check some of the cover shows, but I digress. Get you’re a-list, can’t-miss picks in the spreadsheet; mine are highlighted in yellow.

After the skeleton is in place, you can fill in the meat. I chose to highlight these bands in blue. I thought I knew a lot about punk music, emo, screamo, indie, etc. Maybe I do, but I’m always willing to learn more, so I made a dive into some of the bands I hadn’t heard of. Once again the spreadsheet comes in handy for this task. I use eMusic for most of my music purchases these days, so I found it most useful to check out some of the lesser-known (to me at least) bands. You can use YouTube, that would probably be better and I’ve had to resort to it a few times when the band’s music is not available on eMusic. And most of the bands are available on bandcamp as well. One thing that I’m finding as I go through the bands that are new to me: they’re all really good. I spent a day checking out bands and one after another proved to be amazing. Some of the bands I’ve been turned on to (and subsequently really want to check at The Fest): Sinai Vessel, City of Caterpillar (how did I miss these guys?), Apologies I have none, Army of Ponch, Deadaires, Tartar Control and many many more. I’ve got my b-list highlighted in blue. Once again I must tip my hat to The Fest as they obviously know their music and have assembled an amazing lineup this year. I’m thinking you could conceivably just pop into any venue and end up getting into the show happening at the time. Which would require no prep at all. Can’t have that now can we?

OK. So you’ve got your tickets, accommodations, schedule. You’re well on your way to maximum family fun at The Fest. To round out your enjoyment, definitely download the App. Take your spreadsheet and then transfer that info over to the App and it will sort your schedule by date and time. Now you are ready to go mobile! Next, you might want to check out the website. It’s loaded with goodies!! If you haven’t already, download all the Comps!! Get them in heavy rotation on your sonic delivery vehicle of choice. I’m from the old school, so I burned CDs. You might just find one of your new favorite bands in there. I had to juggle my schedule because I came across a must-see through the comp: Tartar Control. I guarantee you’ll find something in there that you might have missed. Hidden gems.

If you are insane like me, you can start planning your wardrobe, but you might not be that hardcore. I just can’t decide if it makes sense to represent for your favorite bands at the fest, or to bust obscure band Ts to give you more street cred. I could go on for days on this subject. Don’t forget your swimsuit!! There are pool parties happening at both the Wyndham and Holiday Inn. I’m guessing that will be a sight to behold.

I really could keep going and drive this whole preparation thing right into the ground, but I think I’ve already lost most of you, so to those who stayed til the end. I’ll see you on Sunday night. Teen Agers and Tiltwheel are my choices to close things out. Let’s get together and toast the fact that we survived. Cheers.



Book Review: Sex Pistols: Poison in the Machine by John Scanlan

Whenever a punk comes to grips with the classics well enough to start being cynical about them, the wet-behind-the-mohawk youngsters inevitably come to the same conclusion, over and over, ad nauseum:

The Sex Pistols were nothing but a boy band!

Yes, it is a sentiment about as new or unique as the equally age appropriate: we’re dying everyday, man or parents don’t know everything. Triteness in motion. We’ve all heard it, and more painfully, it’s probably come out of our own mouths. That’s just how it goes, I guess. Eventually, I got over it, and got back to relishing the Sex Pistols youthful, hateful, frustrated energy along with their perfect, and only, record. Like it or not, Never Mind the Bollocks is a milestone, and I’ll take it over the Ramones or the Clash any day.

John Scanlan’s book Sex Pistols: Poison in the Machine is, whether intended or not, a response to the famous boy band critique. It tells the story of the Sex Pistols with an emphasis on manager and provocateur Malcolm McLaren, from his early days to the dissolution of the Pistols. It’s an interesting story alone, but with this new perspective, dimensions are added.

In punk rock, we are so used to the idea that authenticity is a hallmark of the artists, and the notion that a manager assembled a group to perform music is a mark against its authenticity. As Scanlan details it, the truth is a bit more complicated. What Poison in the Machine successfully argues is not only for the artistry of the Pistols, but also of McLaren himself. It was his obsession with provocation, transgression, and youth culture that eventually led him to form the Sex Pistols. Scanlan follows McLaren trying on different ideas, all surrounding different permutations of what would be the famous clothing store SEX. Eventually, of course, history is made, but never quite how you expect it.

And while McLaren is critical to a lot of threads punk would continue to follow, by telling McLaren’s story, Poison in the Machine also manages to give due credit to the boys in the band as well. It paints the band as more than just its members or its manager– but as a combination of influences, and more importantly, human beings, who are at odds with each others. Scanlan shows us with a collection of well-selected quotes how McLaren’s art project and the Sex Pistols became two different beasts, and then dismantled itself. It’s an almost Frankensteinian turn. When McLaren assembled Jones, Cook, Matlock, and Lydon, he didn’t plan on them having ideas or even vision, and when his monster learned to speak, the creator was out in the weeds.

It’s a fast read, with clean writing and little editorializing. Scanlan has clearly put a lot of work into the fact checking, with a good chunk of the book dedicated to references. He uses quotes and rare photos to give the reader a sense of the time and place, which is as important to the Sex Pistols as the people involved in their rise.

Great book for fans of the band who need a little more ammo in the face of trite dismissals, or punk history buffs alike– Poison in the Machine is a fascinating read.

Sex Pistols: Poison in the Machine by John Scanlan, published by University of Chicago Press.

5/5



June’s Hidden Gems of Bandcamp

The Von Tramps Fast and Loose

The Von Tramps

While some of you jerks were out having fun at fests, I was chained to a laptop that was chained to a desk that was chained to a bunch of other chains (we really need to clean this place up) in the DyingScene basement with nothing but Bandcamp for company and a bucket of fish heads for sustenance. But despite this hardship, I have scoured the corners of Bandcamp and found six bands from all over the place (all right, maybe more than half are from the midwest, shut up, you can make these decisions when you’ve been chained up with fish heads) which were absolutely the best bands I heard while definitely not on an ether binge or in a fish head-induced fever dream! Please don’t ask how I sneaked in the ether. Uh, anyway, music below!



May’s Hidden Gems of Bandcamp

Bad Daddies

We’re sure everyone is still preparing for PRB or one of the many upcoming festivals, so we’re keeping it short this month. For May’s installment of Hidden Gems of Bandcamp, we’ll be focusing on bands out of the San Francisco/Bay Area. The East Bay (and the Bay in general) has been known for pumping out some of the best punk bands for decades now. 924 Gilman St. is the venue where many of these local bands such as Rancid, Operation Ivy, and Green Day have gotten their start and we’re sure many more will follow in their path. So, here’s five Bay Area bands that we think will be showing up on everyone’s radars soon! Check em’ out below.



April’s Hidden Gems of Bandcamp

Trivial Dispute

Springtime is here and Festival Season is in full swing! Over the next few weeks, punks of all flavors will be gathering at weekend long events across North America. Vans Warped Tour, Fest, Pouzza, PRB in multiple cities, Riot Fest, and a ton of incredible smaller local festivalss like Fuck You We Rule OK in Oklahoma and It’s Not Dead down in SoCal all kick off in the near future (or have already happened, La Escalera Fest was insane from what we heard!). One of our favorite things about the festivals is seeing some of the lesser known local bands get to play next to some of the heavyweights of our scene. We’re betting some of the acts featured in April’s Hidden Gems of Bandcamp will show up on a few of the many lineups this Spring and Summer. So check out all five, fantastic selections, below! Then, if you see them at your local fest, you can tell all of your loser friends that you’ve heard ’em before!



The Split Seconds’ Drew Champion talks about getting into punk and how it shaped his life

Washington DC’s The Split Seconds front man Drew Champion tells us how he got into punk and how it has influenced his life.

I’ve been listening to punk rock my whole life. My Dad was into The Ramones and a lot of alternative rock. I remember hearing Sheena is a Punk rocker in the car when I was a little kid and having it stuck in my head for days. Later on I got into Green Day and Nirvana because all of my friends older siblings were into that stuff. I had no idea they were singing about doing meth and heroin and stuff, I just thought it sounded cool. After I heard Blink 182’s Dammit I started playing guitar. That catchy riff and the chunky palm mutes just hooked me. I got bored of listening to the super radio-friendly pop punk after a few months and started digging down below the mainstream of punk rock. I wasn’t really into the whiny screamo stuff coming out at that time so I ended up getting into DC Dischord bands like Minor Threat and U and not U, and 70’s bands like The Dead Boys and The Buzzcocks.

Punk rock has been really important in shaping my life. The individualism in punk rock taught me to think critically and to distrust groups of people under the influence of bad ideas. The irony is that it’s often the punks whose group think I find myself rejecting. The DIY ethos of punk rock taught me self reliance. I know that nobody is going to just hand something to me and I need to make things happen myself. That’s the Ian MacKaye influence. The democratic streak in punk rock taught me to treat people without regard to race, sex, sexuality, etc. That’s pretty basic but some people seem to have a hard time with that. Finally the minimalism of punk rock taught me to reject fancy and complicated solutions when something simple and solid will get the job done. The way that Johnny Ramone approached guitar is a good way to approach life I think. Just keep it simple and go for it.

The Split Seconds’ upcoming album Center Of Attention, is set to be released on March 10th via Altercation Records.