To many people, Chain Reaction is a hidden gem. A small hole-in-the-wall venue in a nondescript strip mall in Anaheim. It’s been an incubator for young bands, a hotbed of new music, and oftentimes the site of very special performances. On a recent Monday night, it was all of the above. Though Chain had been my stomping grounds for many a year, it has been quite a while since I had last been there, so I was pretty excited for my visit tonight.
Being a long-time NOFX fan, I was very much intrigued when “Fat” Mike Burkett introduced a new music project that he was involved with called Codefendants. Burkett, along with Sam King of Get Dead, and rapper Ceschi Ramos created a new genre of music that they are calling “crime wave.” I’ve always been a fan of anything Burkett has done in the past, but I knew tonight would be an experience unlike any that I’d ever encountered before.
Unfortunately, Fat Mike would only be at this show in spirit as NOFX was headed out for their Punk in Drublic final tour. Tonight’s show got going with a few songs by the rapper duo of Steven Suliafu and his partner Tydeebone. Called PXNDA – or Panda – they delivered some smooth beats and were well received by the light crowd as the venue continued to fill up.
Next up was the Venezuelan band Zeta. I wasn’t familiar with Zeta before tonight, but they blew away any expectations that I or anyone else may have had. With their Latin-tinged rock, congas, and steel drums, their musicianship and tunes were amazing. One extended jam reminded me of a young Santana band and “Soul Sacrifice” at Woodstock 69.
Little did I know that they would also be the band backing up Codefendants tonight. Hopefully, this tour brings Zeta a number of new fans as they are very deserving of it and should be checked out
The house lights dimmed and the opening guitar for the first song began to play as the crowd went wild. Co-front-men Sam King and Ceschi Ramos walked onto the stage – looking very dapper in their black pressed suits – to treat us all to songs from their debut album “This is Crime Wave.”
“Def Cons” was the first song out, which also happens to be the first track on the album. They followed this with the next three songs in order “Abscessed,” “Fast Ones,” and “Suicide by Pigs.”
Their album had only recently come out, yet the fans in attendance seemed very familiar with most of the songs. Ramos introduced the song “Prison Camp” by saying that he “hopes it helps someone think twice about what they say to a cop.” I like this song in particular and maybe it’s because it reminds me a little bit of the NOFX song “Anarchy Camp,” but with better and more poignant lyrics: “our morals are not like theirs, our rules are not like theirs, our laws are not like theirs, but we still care.”
As the intro to the song “Coda-Fendants” began, Ramos jumped into a crowd that he readily seemed to have in the palm of his hand. He asked everyone in the venue to sit on what he assumed was “a relatively clean floor” and most obliged. He then serenaded the sitting crowd who were singing along, taking selfies and videos, all while King stood on the outside of the circle singing his parts with his arm over my shoulder; it was a special and intimate moment felt by all, especially myself.
For the banger “Sell Me Youth,” King got down low on the stage and was singing directly to a young boy who was upfront and very much into it. They left the stage briefly and asked the crowd if they wanted to hear a couple more. With a roar of approval, they returned with Ramos’ folk-tinged song, “Say Something,” and they closed the night with the “Get Dead” song, “Leave a Message.” We all left very satisfied.
After the show, Ramos told us, “It’s been such a great feeling seeing these songs come to life and hearing people sing along nightly. Joining forces with Zeta for our first-ever tour has been a dream. They’re the rarest of hardcore road dogs and have a fire in them that has helped us bring these songs to another level live.” I couldn’t agree more and I am looking forward to what comes next for the band.
The Codefendants are making appearances on a number of NOFX’s final tour dates (Punk in Drublic) including San Diego on May 13th with Descendants, The Vandals, Mad Caddies.