By DAN MACINTOSH
The 4th annual So Cal HoeDown drew an audience that, as Face to Face’s frontman Trever Keith put it, was ready for the “Denny’s senior menu.”
On a personal note, two acts on the bill (T.S.O.L and The Untouchables) played at Fullerton College while I attended there in the 1980s, so needless to say, the vibe was oftentimes more than a little bit nostalgic. It would be tempting to say this demographic is too old to mosh, but too young to die. That is until a relatively gentle mosh pit did open up just after nightfall. It was nostalgic, yes, but the show also highlighted the wide variety of sounds that grew out of Southern California punk rock era.
Not everyone was local, however, as the Danish psychobilly band, HorrorPops coheadlined the event with local punk veterans, Suicidal Tendencies. The now redheaded Patricia Day leads HorrorPops while playing a colorful standup bass with guitarist Kim “Nekroman” Gaarde acting as her musical partner in crime. HorrorPops’ punkish rockabilly sound, exemplified by fan favorites like” Thelma & Louise,” offered the perfect sonic fit for a festival celebrating both roots music and punk rock. Suicidal Tendencies, led by the always in motion Mike Muir closed the night with a set of music that included a healthy dose of metal guitar in its punk rock stew.
So Cal Hoedown – Courtesy Jerry Castillo
Before their set, one especially inebriated patron was spotted singing the famous line to the band’s breakout KROQ hit “Institutionalized,” “All I wanted was a Pepsi!” Although this was not exactly the sort of product endorsement PepsiCo might have wanted in 1983, many still remember it well, even all these years later.
Although much of the music performed this day was vintage punk, all of it was at least punk inspired. Both Supersuckers and Nashville Pussy incorporated country elements into their grunge-ish sounds, while fast-picking Jesse Dayton found room to cover both Waylon Jennings and AC/DC, which says a lot about the wide range of inspirations that influence his adventurous country sound.
The Untouchables brought back found memories of So Cal’s ska revival with “Free Yourself” and other upbeat dance numbers. Then there was Fishbone, an enigma that plays a lot of funk-inspired music to a mostly white audience. Still led by the hyperactive, saxophone playing Angelo Moore, Fishbone had even old punk rockers getting down and getting funky.
Both Throwrag and Street Walkin’ Cheetahs filled their sets with good, old fashioned guitar rock grooves. Punk rock, after all, is all about having good, noisy fun. Yes, it was and is political, but much of the music created (both then and now), appeals to a nearly carnal desire to just rock out. Many in this Denny’s senior menu ready audience appeared to be reliving those carefree days when loud rock music was the central part of their lives. Set at the Port of Los Angeles, So Cal HoeDown amounted to one enjoyable mosh down memory lane.
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