Evening had set in and the first act of the night had just left the stage when last we left our intrepid and inebriated Los Angeles correspondent, AnarchoPunk and his bearded brethren, John Underwood and Chris Fox. The backyard was beginning to fill in with punks of all types, a thin layer of marijuana smoke hovering ever so slightly above their heads and the faint aroma of cheap beer in the cool night air, raising up from golden puddles, where 40 oz bottles had been carelessly kicked over. If you’ve ever wondered what it was like to hang out with legit, up and coming punk artists midway through a tour at a back yard pot luck folk punk show in the Greater Los Angeles area, you’ve come to the right place (although that’s a very specific thing to ponder about). Continue the saga below!
The “Dixie Kid” (I’m sure he gave me his name at some point but memory isn’t really one of my strongest traits) hung out long enough to enjoy the fruits of his bartering, toking on some of SoCal’s finest Indica and taking his leave once he had realized that the thrash-grass act that he was in, Box Wine Bandits were taking the stage. These kids came all the way from Huntsville, Alabama (most likely with a banjo on their knees), so I guess I can’t complain too much about my fifty minute trek. They had already made an impression thanks to the delinquency displayed by Dixie Kid who by this time, had started plucking the thick strings of his washtub bass as his band mates joined in for their preset introductions. “Roll Tide! Fuck your team” one of them shouted, making no attempt to endear themselves to the ever swelling crowd. A few audience members yelled back in lighthearted retaliation, most seeming to be pro USC, that’s the extent of my collegiate sports knowledge. After a few more friendly back and forths, the set kicked off . The four piece from Rocket City had a Days N Daze vibe to them. Very folk, very aggressive and a little filthy. The lead vocals were gritty and road hardened with brisk, pick shattering acoustic guitar riffs.
“I don’t think I would’ve opened with that.” Chris said, almost to himself.
“What? The whole ‘Fuck Your Team’ thing? I liked it. Takes some balls!”
“Yea. Just doesn’t seem like a real good way to get the crowd on your side!” he explained as he finished another beer. “I usually need all the help I can get!”
I reached into my bag and pulled out the three remaining beers and distributed them among Chris, John, asking Earl if he would like the third.
“No man, I’m good. I’m still working on this one. I’m gonna pack a bowl though.” He said very deliberately as he fumbled around in his backpack. About this time, John wandered off to watch the ramshackle rednecks thrash their way through the rest of their set.
“So, when are you comin’ back through LA with Boss’ Daughter?” I inquired, turning the interview back on.
“We’re going to try to make it back through here soon. It’s hard though with all of the shows I’m playing with other bands. I’m doing a Euro tour with Vampirates, which we’re trying to get booked now. Then, I’m also doing a lot of shows with Twelve Gauge Face Lift and a few other bands. Then, all my solo stuff. It’s tough, but we’ll make back through eventually.”
“Make sure you hit me up when you do. Don’t let me forget to get some merch before I leave, too. You got Boss’ Daughter CDs right?”
Ignoring my question he replied, “Dude! I have a stencil and spray paint!”, almost excited to the point of clapping his hands and jumping up and down. “We should stencil something!”
“Hell yea, we can stencil my bag, what is it a stencil of? Just Chris Fox?” I asked, afterwards thinking that it came off sounding, douchey. Only Chris Fox?!?!?
“Yea, it’s just my name, so that might be weird. I got Boss’ Daughter CDs and some other shit too, though. We’ll set it up later and you can get what you want. Do you get to a lot of shows? I guess so being in LA and writing for the website.”
Is this fucker interviewing me now? What’s happening here? “Yea, I get to a fair amount of shows. I can’t get to all of them because there’s at least one or two every week I want to see but I go to a quite a bit. I think the last one I went to was Lagwagon with PEARS at the Troubadour.”
“The one where they played Hoss? You bastard!” He bellowed with envy.
“Yea, it was bad ass. It was Joey Cape’s birthday, he destroyed a bottle of Jameson throughout the set. Really good show. And it was my first time seeing PEARS live. Blew my fucking mind. (Lead singer) Zach can put on a show!”
Chris was nodding his head in agreement, “They are so rad. They’re one of my favorite newer bands.”
“How about bands that have been around longer? Who do you like?” Yea, volleyed that one back nicely, AP!
“I listen to all sorts of stuff. I like the 90’s skate punk a lot. Like Strung Out.”
“Strung Out may be the only band still on my wishlist to see live. They were part of my childhood soundtrack. I can’t believe I haven’t seen them yet.”
“Hey Chris, You think we should set up the merch tables?” John asked, returning to our little circle after Box Wine Bandits wrapped.
“We were just talking about that! ” he replied. As he started migrating towards his milk crate full of sellables near the stage, he turned back to Earl and I, “I’ll be back in a minute.”
While the boys set up their tables, I took a quick lap around the fenced in yard. By now it was at about half capacity and the fire pit had grown to it’s full fury, the flames licking ever so dangerously close to an extremely friendly crust punk I had waited in the bathroom line with earlier. He had what looked to be a six gauge, captive bead, septum ring in and was sporting the obligatory, black cut off shorts with band patches adorning the majority of his surface areas. I used to have my septum stretched about that far, but when I removed it for work, it left me with an elephant trunk for a day or so while the saggy, stretched out skin tightened up enough to draw it back up to it’s normal position. Not a good look. Hopefully this kid is a little more pliable than me. There was a pack of fat dogs that would intermittently mosey through the crowd, being pet and scruffed up by every person they trotted past. Other than getting some extra attention, they seemed unconcerned with all the noise and chaos surrounding them. The entirety of the lawn space including the mini stage and concrete patio area was probably a good quarter acre (my “country” is showing). Their were plenty of lawn chairs, tables and coolers full of 40’s and liquor of all varieties. I noticed that the gents had completed their set up and had rejoined Earl while the next act Below Danjaxed Brunk started up.
As I strolled back to our faction, I noticed their “merch table” was pretty much just upturned milk crates with the contents of said crate strewn haphazardly on the top. Each table had a hand written sign denoting whose table was whose, behind each sign sat a glass jar with a few singles tossed in for bait. Advertising at it’s finest! The hat had been passed around at the start of the show, but I guess it doesn’t hurt to try. “You guys all set up up to make that cash money?”
“Yea, I guess we’re just gonna use the honor system?” Chris questioned, shrugging his shoulders while simultaneously hitting the bowl Earl had just sent our way. “I’m sure as hell not gonna stand there the whole time.”
“Fair enough!” I concurred, taking the handoff from him and inhaling my physician recommended pain relief medication and sleep aid. “So, what are you planning on playing tonight?” I asked abruptly, putting Mr. Fox on the spot.
“I don’t know yet. I know I’m playing three new Boss’ Daughter songs we’ve been working on and a few others from Songs are Songs. You wanna set the rest of the list?”
“Fuck. Yea!” Earl had offered up another round of backpack brew to go along with the meds (Fucking Earl). “Cheers to that!” I exclaimed, raising my glistening, aluminum clad chalice in the air towards Chris’.
“What songs do you want me to play? I think I got room for two, maybe three. I dunno. I have no clue what the schedule is. It seems like we’re running behind.” We were. Significantly.
“How about Married at Thirty and Alone?” I replied in more of a ‘Do it, those are two of my favorites’ manner.
“Those are pretty long, so just two. But OK. Yea. I’ll add ’em.” he obliged, writing my selections on the palm of his hand in black marker along with the rest of the set.
How fucking dope is that? How often do you get to plan a set list with someone who’s music you have massive respect for and listen to daily? In a chill, backyard setting, just drinking beer and getting high? For shit’s sake, it’s what dreams are made of!
After my joy subsided a little I went to take a gander at the LA folk trio on stage. Other than Chris and John, I was most looking forward to seeing Below Danjaxed Brunk perform. I’ve noticed that my preference in music has been devolving of late, to a more rudimentary, fundamental style of punk which is why Folk sits so well with me, I guess. The thing that I love most about these guys is the freedom of the music. They make it for themselves and their friends and don’t really give a shit what you think. Most of their recordings are drunken, stumbling performances, but they’re having fun doing it and that’s the only goal. Punk done right. The audience was obviously on the same boat as me because they seemed to also become more interested and engaged when these Angelenos were on. The throng reached it’s peak when the band started in on the chorus for their brooding yet catchy song, Gippies/Hypsy (this links to one of those aforementioned slower, drunken versions, but you’ll get the idea. It was a lot more polished, more intact with the guitar and washboard and almost took on a pop sound with a more rapid pace than on the track.)
“Those guys are so bad ass!” I beamed, returning to the crew where I was immediately met with another bowl and beer.
Chris in agreement said, “Isn’t it weird? The evolution of punk. With the folk music? Would you have ever thought 20 years ago, that it would be a legit genre with all these awesome bands?”
“I know. It’s a lot more approachable than some other genres because it’s all acoustic. Easier access, you know? So, it seems like because it’s so accessible, there’s so many more awesome, talented bands to draw from.” I concurred.
“I was just hanging with the Days N Daze gang a few weeks back, those guys are incredible!” Mr. Underwood chimed in.
“Yes! One of my favorites! Rogue Taxidermy is probably in my Top 25 All Time Albums. It is pretty crazy, I had never really stopped and thought about it, but you’re right about it evolving. Even the song writing, it’s simple, but still has some weight to it, you know? I think that’s why I like your music. It’s simple and relatable. I like humble music.” I said to Chris, trying not to gush or come off as an ass kisser, which I undoubtedly am.
“Aww, thanks man! I’m glad to know people are listening to it and enjoying it. I take a real simple approach to writing my songs. I literally only write about three or four different things: Missing my friends, being bored…and ….ummm…”
“Drinking.” I interjected.
“Definitely drinking! There’s a fourth in there too, I’m sure. But you’re right, I like simplicity.”
We hadn’t noticed, but a female solo artist had taken the stage and introduced herself, unfortunately I never heard her name because I was too busy interrogating Mr. Fox. She was quiet and a little timid on stage, admitting at first that she could only do two songs because that’s all she had while she tuned her guitar and interacted with the crowd nervously. Once she started strumming the acoustic though, her quiet demeanor lifted and she really shined. There was soul in her voice that was absent when not performing. She played her two songs as promised and thanked the audience who was ravenous for more. They implored her to play “Just one more”. As she stammered and thought for a few seconds, she finally relented and agreed to another. Little did I know, but that three song, solo set would end up being the highlight performance of the night for me.
*Tune in next time for the stunning conclusion (ed: This isn’t done yet? What do you do all day?)! Will Earl ever exhaust the contents of his amazing, and seemingly infinite bag of goodies? Will John Underwood sell any buttons? There’s only one way to find out. We’ll see you soon. Thanks for reading!*