Live at Garden Amp
July 14, 2023 Review by Kevin Gomez  
This year’s Gutterfest, the punk rock festival run by Guttermouth, was taking place at the Garden Amp. Much like the recent Mad Caddies ska festival, a dozen punk bands, mostly from Southern California, rocked both stages for several hours. With an early bird presale cost of $10, that’s less than one dollar per band; quite the bang for your buck.

The first band I caught was Los Angeles’s own, Jughead’s Revenge; a band that has been touring on and off since 1989. Having recently returned from a European tour, the boys opened with “Image,” followed by “Play with Fire.”

Lead man Joe Doherty barked out aggressive lyrics against co-founding guitarist, Joey Rimicci’s fast skate punk riffs, inspiring the first of several mosh pits that day. It was bring your child to work day as bassist Eric Bootow recruited his daughter as his bass tech, since the festival was an all-ages event. The band closed their set with “L.A. Girl” and “Pain” to an already raucous crowd.
Next up was longtime hardcore legends, JFA, and singer Brian Brannon played harmonica on “I Want” to kick off their set. The band is known for short, fast hardcore songs; for example, “Hannigan” clocks in at barely 20 seconds.

After some rowdy moshing featuring young teens, Brannon gave a shout out to the younger generation: “Looks like 1982 at the Cuckoo’s Nest in the pit.” With a career spanning four decades, the band just released their album, “Last Ride,” in May and played “Badlands” with Brannon on keyboard. The set included two covers – the Peanuts theme song and Steppenwolf’s “Magic Carpet Ride.”
Buck-O-Nine got things started off with the fun ska tune, “Round Kid” and followed with “Me Into the Bowl.” Lead singer Jon Pebsworth asked who had to work the following day, and suggested they ought to be “Callin’ in Sick.”

The San Diego band had some very fun covers in their setlist including, Joe Jackson’s “I’m the Man” and Operation Ivy’s “Sound System.” Their cover of “Pass the Dutchie” initially sounds like an almost note-for-note, laidback reggae cover with trumpeter Tony Curry toasting along to Pebsworth, before exploding into a ska punk hysteria. As opposed to most of the hard moshing throughout the days with most skate punk and hardcore bands, Buck-O-Nine’s set gave a nice chance for kids to have a skank pit along to ska-reggae-punk.

Pebsworth said through the years, so many people have come up to him after shows and said they thought “Irish Drinking Song” was actually a Dropkick Murphys or Flogging Molly cover. But in fact, it was seven kids from San Diego more likely to be confused with a Jamaican band, than a Celtic band, that penned the fun, Irish ditty about drinking, fighting, and a woman named Mary McGregor. Buck-O-Nine is a band proud of their hometown down south and played what I still consider to be the San Diego anthem, “My Town.” Staying with their drinking theme, the band finished with “Barfly” and “Let’s Drink.”
Inside the Locker Room stage, fans packed like sardines to catch Chaser’s set. Like the second coming of Pennywise, the band embodies Southern California skate punk. Their anthem sing-alongs and high-energy performances have garnered a huge following, particularly in their homeland of Orange County.

They got the crowd hyped into a mosh pit, opening with “Fight of Our Lives,” followed by the pandemic-themed “2020.” Eric Bootow was playing double duty as he also filled in on bass for Jesse Stopnitzky.
Front-man Mike LeDonne is so good at involving the crowd and getting them amped up, leading into a wave of voices echoing “whoa” on “Nightmares.” I’ve seen Chaser play bigger festivals on larger stages, but there’s something about getting that close, intimate space where LeDonne makes the audience a part of the show, putting his mic in front of fans to let them sing. They did justice to Pennywise’s “Perfect People” that sent people into a frenzy. They finished off their hot, sweaty set with “Something in the Water.”
Finally, the time had come for the festival’s namesake, as Guttermouth took the stage, all clad looking like they just got back from the beach in tank tops and shorts. Probably the last band you would think of when it comes to family entertainment, and yet here at this all-ages show, their performance became just that.

In perhaps the only time in Guttermouth history, their stage was overrun by children, mostly under 10 years old. There were as many as a dozen at a time all frolicking, singing, and occasionally talking into the mic at lead singer Mark Adkins’s discretion.

The band opened with “Race Track,” “Baker’s Dozen,” and “Chicken Box,” a song about a restaurant in Adkins’ hometown of La Habra. I first caught A.J. Condosta when he was still playing drums for Voodoo Glow Skulls quite a few years ago. Whether it’s ska, punk, or hardcore, he continually impresses with his lightning-quick speed and precision. Saturday was no exception as he led the band in expert form, keeping them sounding tight.
They played the poppy sing-along, “She’s Got the Look,” “Asshole,” “Destroying the World,” and “Bruce Lee vs. the Kiss Army,” all staples in the live Guttermouth repertoire. However, they decided to play a special treat, “Mr. Barbecue,” a song from 1996’s “The Album Formerly Known as L.P.”

In addition, longtime former member Clint Weinrich played bass for the song, to which Adkins – who is so rarely sincere – stated, “this band would not be what we are today without him.” As they usually do, Guttermouth ended their set with the fan favorite, “Lipstick,” this time with Adkins handing off his mic for the last half of the song to a young kid, who knew every single filthy lyric. And with that, I think I just witnessed the passing of the torch to the next generation.


by Todd Markel Rock Photography



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