Day Three was reserved for the most “mature” roster of the weekend with stalwarts like Unwritten Law and Swingin’ Utters sharing the stage alongside genre defining bands like Pennywise and Bad Religion. 125 cumulative years of punk rock history performing on the same day, all in one place equated to an enormous turnout. So for the last time, we dragged Anarchopunk, kicking and screaming, back across the county line to Costa Mesa to cover this, the final day of Musink 2017. Check it out below!
Unwritten Law opened to a fairly light early crowd, but a 4pm start time on a Sunday in SoCal will do that. The fans that were there though, bore witness to an amazing display of skill. I had never seen these guys live and was only mildly into them back in the 90’s, so I was just as curious as I was excited to catch their set. The quartet played through what seemed like twenty songs, making the most of their time, stopping occasionally just to thank the crowd. The sharply dressed frontman, Scott Russo had a great sense of composure which was juxtaposed by the whirlwind that was guitarist Chris Lewis as they raced through some of the more popular songs from their self titled LP including”Teenage Suicide” and of course “Seein’ Red” from the 2002 breakout album, Elva. They also treated us to a pretty nifty cover of Fugazi’s “Waiting Room” with everyone joining in on the chorus. Even though it wasn’t as populated as Day Two at this point in the day, the punks were already primed and kept up a healthy little circle pit throughout the thirty or forty minute set, setting the tone from the get go.
Since coming back from their extended hiatus about six years ago, I’ve been eager to see Swingin’ Utters but haven’t been in a position to. So, I was stoked to finally get to see Johnny Peebucks in person after being a fan back in my salad days. Before the music even started, the ebullient leadman was already pacing the front of the stage like a caged animal just waiting to pounce. As soon as the band started up, his wait was over, instantly losing control of his limbs in a spasm of activity, flinging the mic cable around like a whip, so much so that he accidentally dislodged it from the microphone. He convulsed frantically through what was the most frenetic performance of the weekend, “wielding” the mic like an axe or a baseball bat, swinging it around with no regard to his surroundings and smashing it into his forehead. For me, personally, this was one of the top three sets of the festival. So good in fact, I forgot to take notes on which songs they played! You’re welcome!
If there was an award given to the band whose t-shirts adorned the most fans during the three days of the festival, surf punk pioneers Pennywise would’ve won by a landslide. By the time the LA County virtuosos took the stage, I think every single one of them was crammed into The Hanger. The band ran up the steps and were instantly met with an extended applause as lead vocalist, Jim Lindberg took his place and thanked the mass for their extended show of respect. The best part of the set were the few times they took requests, on one occasion obliging a fan with “Unknown Road”. Between songs, the frontman reached down into the photo pit and took a camera from one of my counterparts, taking a picture of the frenzied throng. When not playing off the cuff, they hit the audience with a few classic tunes like “Same Old Story” and “Perfect People”. But some of the biggest cheers come when the Hermosa Beach hoodlums played covered songs. Bad Religion’s “Do What You Want” and Circle Jerks’ “Wild in the Streets” as well as “Stand By Me” in tribute to the late Chuck Berry were all crowd favorites. As expected, the veteran act capped their set with “Bro Hymn” as everyone backstage flooded to the front in a bevy of humanity until the end of the anthem.
Who better to close out the weekend’s festivities than punk luminaries, Bad Religion? No one. Having never seen the iconic act, I was in awe as Dr. Gregg Graffin slowly walked to the center of the stage. If we’re being honest, I forgot to take pictures until a few seconds into the opening song “American Jesus” standing there, seeing one of my heroes just a few feet in front of me. He gingerly roamed the stage, cycling through staples like “Generator”, “Against The Grain” and “Suffer”. Every once in awhile, the good Doctor would add in a little skip or hop right before making one of his signature, broad, sweeping gesticulations, almost as if he were proudly presenting his infinite wisdom on a platter for his insatiable audience. Between songs, the master performer talked to the audience as if he were familiar with every individual, “How many people have tattoos?” he asked the crowd…at a tattoo convention. His query was met with a wild roar. “I’ve never gotten one. All these years. Nothing against them. I love ’em. Just never got one. You guys think I should get one tonight?” to which everyone boisterously agreed, he should. In addition to the hits, the living legends also played some deeper cuts like “Delirium of Disorder”, “Too Much to Ask”, “Can’t Stop” and “Prove it” which delighted an old guy like me no end! Seeing/shooting Bad Religion fulfilled a few life goals of mine all at once. I will not wait another thirty plus years before seeing them again.