It’s never a bad day when you can take an iconic band from the ‘80s and team them up with the next big thing, and add in some of the most kick-ass, fan-favorite bands. Added together, it created a festival atmosphere at The Observatory in Santa Ana, and the crowd was insanely ready to see headliners The Adicts and The Garden.
The stage was set; it was a beautiful day in Orange County, and yes, a festival atmosphere was appropriately in play as over 8,000 devoted fans congregated at the outdoor grounds of The Observatory. There were fans of all ages ready to see each band for their own reasons.
Up first was 45 Grave; formed in 1975 in Los Angeles, they were definitely local favorites. Being no strangers to the OC scene, 45 Grave took the stage with authority. Being this would be an abbreviated set, concertgoers were still strolling in, but for the early birds, they got to see a stellar set from the band that included hits “Insurance from God,” “The Pain,” “Take 9,” “Surf Bat,” “45 Grave,” and “Black Cross.”
I have to give props to whoever was working crew for this show; with so many moving parts, they did a fantastic job keeping the show going. Up next was Alice Glass, and with a wink and perpetual smile, Alice Glass took the stage.
Despite being from Canada, the locals knew who she was, and boy did they sing along. Again, because she was an opener, we got an abbreviated set. By then the sun was a little lower, but the crowd was starting to swell. Alice Glass did a nice job with the time she had, which included belting out “Celestica,” “Forgiveness,” “Alice Practice,” “Fair Game,” and she closed with “Forgiveness.”
The crowd’s anticipation for The Adicts was palpable. The crowd had swelled to capacity and bodies were lined up like sardines, ready to see the legends. Although The Adicts are technically from England, most of the band have resided in Southern California for some time. They have built quite the loyal following, and the Droog Army was definitely representin’ at The Observatory. What seemed like an armada of special effects was coming; the road crew got the stage ready for this epic event.
This was to be only the second show the band had played since the lockdown and Pete Dee’s health scare, so the crowd was poised, and erupted as the band took the stage. With the flare of a true musician, lead singer Monkey jump out at full speed, like a top with his head on fire. They opened with “Let’s Go,” which immediately turned the “baking in the sun” crowd into a “form of hysteria you only see when the greats take the stage” group. Immediately, the distinct sound that is The Adicts was heard over the PA and fans from front to back lost it when Monkey led them into “My Baby Got Run Over by a Steamroller,” followed by “Joker in the Pack” and “Numbers.”
As he does, Monkey fed off the crowd and vice versa, and he displayed his elaborate costume and threw Adicts cards into the crowd.
The sun began to set, and The Adicts were in full effect. With props going off, streamers and confetti, the hit parade just kept rolling with “Just Like Me,” “Easy Way Out,” “Troubadour,” and “Tango.” Then, Monkey was ready to turn the craziness up a notch with “Who Split My Beer?” For that, he was ready to share a little beer with the crowd!
Then, when you thought the crowd could not get any more ruckus, Pete Dee led them into “Bad Boy,” and the crowd lost their minds. They followed with “Chinese Takeaway,” before The Observatory resembled John Wayne Airport with the sound of a jumbo jet landing when Monkey belted out three era-defining words, “Viva la Revolution!”
The entire band was in sync and you could tell they were incredibly happy to be there, playing for this insanely amped crowd.
The band was electric as they rounded out the show with “Angel,” “Fuck it Up,” “I Am Yours,” “Horrorshow,” “Talking Shit,” “Daydreamers,” “You’ll Never Walk Alone,” and walked off to “Symphony #9 in D Minor!”
It was as if you were in one of those epic videos you see on YouTube from the ‘70s or ‘80s; it was one of those iconic moments in OC music.
On the surface the crowd appeared wiped-out… or so you would think. The crew took a minute to clean up from the exploding everything The Adicts left behind. The night was just getting started as JPEGMafia was ready to go, stage left.
As the moon was now fully upright and in a locked position taking in the show, it was time for JPEGMafia. New York was definitely in the house with Barrington DeVaughn Hendricks aka JPEGMafia being front and center onstage. The choice was bold – to have a change in genre like that – but it worked. The crowd was enthralled with the sounds of the rapping phenom.
Taking a page from the old schoolbook of hip-hop, JPEGMafia did not disappoint. He entertained with his catalog that included “Lean Beef Patty, “Hazard Duty Pay,” “Call Me Baby,” “Scaring the Hoes,” (which got a lot of smirks from the crowd), “1539 N. Calvert,” “Baby I’m Bleeding,” “Vengeance,” and he closed with “Burfict!’
Now, as the end was near, the crowd was at max capacity and over 8,000 souls were roaming the grounds at The Observatory. What was interesting to me about this one; when I was in the free bus transportation to the event (classy move, by the way), I overheard several 20-something year olds talking about the show. Like a fly on the way, I kept quiet to hear the unedited position of this younger group of fans to see what they thought of The Adicts and The Garden.
I was pleasantly surprised to hear that they had such a deep understanding of each band and the genre. OK… Well… To be honest, they may have had dates wrong, maybe confused as to what continents certain bands came from, and the timelines were way off. But what the hell; they were engaging in one of my most favorite topics: MUSIC HISTORY! What I loved was that they were passionate about both The Adicts and The Garden.
With my bus ride as the backdrop, the crowd that was there for The Adicts did not falter, they stayed true to the music and remained in that space; they did not give up for The Garden.
Calling Orange County home, The Garden features twin brothers, Wyatt and Fletcher Shears. Like The Adicts, they too have “A Clockwork Orange” motif going on. With painted faces, The Garden took to the stage as they were face to face with a sea of faces that resembled their own; what a weirdly cool moment that was to witness. Young and not-as-young fans clamored to absorb every word of this band that is destined to do great things. With a wicked guitar and bassline, the crowd seemed to ebb and flow to each song as The Garden opened with “Horseshit on Route 66,” then segued into “Call This # Now,” “OC93,” and “California Here We Go.”
By now the crowd was well engulfed into the mayhem that the brothers brought to The Observatory. With a booming sound, and punktrified guitar riffs, the crowd’s heads bobbed along to “What Else Could I Be But a Jester,” “Stallion,” ”All Access,” “Haunted House on Zillow” (which also got smirks from the crowd), and “Sneaky Devil.” All in all, The Garden made a statement by having a band as polished as The Adicts on the stage with them, and they held their own with the slew of fans of all ages. “The Garden is legit” is what I overheard a not-so-20-something year old tell his buddy, who happened to be standing next to me.
The catalog that was played spoke for itself, and the second half of the show featured “AMPM Truck,” “Egg,” “Squished Face Slick Pig Living in a Smokey City,” “Call the Dogs Out,” “Vexation,” “The Gorilla,” “This Could Build Us a Home,” and “Puerta de Limosina.” I will say that if anything, The Garden are great students of the genre, and they picked up a thing or two from other bands they’ve played with – maybe even a thing or two from The Adicts. They too took that stage and engaged with the crowd as if they were seasoned pros!
The Garden closed with a few more fan favorites – “Orange County Punk Rock Legend,” “At the Campfire,” “Freight Yard,” “Chainsaw the Door,” “Kiss My Super Bowl Ring,” “Thy Mission,” “Hit Eject,” and finally, “Banana Peel.”
What a great day for music! I could only imagine the conversations had on the bus ride back to the parking lot. It was a memorable day of music by incredible bands!