After an exciting first night of punk music, the crowd gathered at the Gaslamp in Long Beach was ready for night two of Warfest. The annual punk festival looks to highlight local punk bands and Sunday night’s lineup looked just as stacked as Saturday. Once again T.S.O.L. was slated to play again, this time accompanied by The Dickies.
First up was the highly entertaining The Clowns, who as you may have guessed, all dressed up as clowns for their set. Their playing is no laughing matter though, as the band features pretty talented musicians. A highlight of their set was “Hopscotch.” For the song “Danger Ape,” Danger Ape himself (giant dog costume) graced the stage as the band played the hectic instrumental song.
Next up was Infamous Stiffs, consisting of five established members of Southern California punk rock. Amongst previous bands on their resumes are Verbal Abuse, Cadillac Tramps, U.S. Bombs and The Zero Class.
Lead singer Scott Wilkins announced that the show was a record release party for their new album, “Kill for The Sound.” The band opened with “Shakedown” and went into “Get it Straight.” Wilkins plays the sneering front-man, as he belts out lyrics while leaning over the crowd, and pacing back and forth across the stage. Dueling guitarists, Mark Pananides and John Gilhooley shined on “Kill for the Sound,” each playing aggressive, grinding riffs perfectly bouncing off one another, leading into Pananides’s impressive solo. The band’s 30 minute set included 10 songs, concluding with “It Ain’t Me.”
The last time I saw CH3 play was as a last-minute replacement opening up The Vandals Christmas Show in December. For a night where Warfest celebrated legendary punk musicians, CH3 fit right in. Formed in 1980 in Cerritos, the band was integral in establishing the Orange County punk scene in the ‘80s along with bands like Social Distortion, The Vandals, and Adolescents. Their hit “Indian Summer,” put them on a very nice trajectory.
The band has seen several lineup changes throughout the years, but the two constants have always been lead singer/guitarist Mike Magrann, and lead guitarist Kimm Gardener. They played the short, catchy “Waiting in the Wings” clocking in at just barely over a minute long, and somehow seems even faster live. Before playing “No Love,” Magrann joked, “This one is fast, but we have a break for the old people to take a breath, slow down, and hydrate.” CH3 followed this up with “You Lie” and “Strength in Numbers.”
Other than T.S.O.L., the only other band with the distinct honor of playing both nights of Warfest was Authority Zero. On Saturday they played their sophomore album, “Andiamo,” in its entirety. For Sunday, the band announced they would be playing their debut album, “A Passage in Time,” in full. This year marks the 20th anniversary of the album’s release. The band led with the instrumental, “Papa,” but it was the album’s title track where lead singer Jason Devore sang, “Here we gooooo…” and the crowd did just that. The audience exploded into the biggest mosh pit of the night, and pretty much would continue throughout the band’s set.
Authority Zero has amassed a large following all across the globe, but Southern California is perhaps second only to the band’s hometown in Arizona. For the second straight night, drummer Chris Dalley continued to put on a drum clinic. Dalley showed his versatility by destroying through the breakneck beat of “Lying Awake,” as guitarist Eric Walsh’s guitar solo, and then slowing it down for the smoothed out reggae, “One More Minute.” Devore continued to be a charismatic front-man, energetically bopping his head and bouncing around the stage. He spits out rapid-fire lyrics, such as “Superbitch” against Walsh’s ska upstroke and bassist, Michael Spero’s heavy bass.
The legendary Dickies kicked off their set with their rendition of The Moody Blues’ “Nights In White Satin.” Their version is put through a punk decoder and sped up so quickly, it’s virtually unrecognizable but still as powerful as the original. As always, drummer Adam Gomez remains one of my favorite punk rock drummers – his technique is so fluid and tight, while being fast and technical. Donning a bowtie and suspenders, it’s always a pleasure to watch him breeze through songs like “I’m OK, You’re OK” and “Give it Back.”
Whether it’s playing in Punk Rock Karaoke or as the founding guitarist of the Dickies, you never want to miss an opportunity to watch Stan Lee play. His playing on a sped up cover of Black Sabbath’s “Paranoid” is worth the price of admission alone. Lead singer, Leonard Phillips was up to his typical antics and per usual, brought along props. These include a rubber, squeaking caveman club for “Curb Job,” and ape mask for “You Drive Me Ape (You Big Gorilla).”
My personal favorite Dickies song and highlight of Sunday evening was “Waterslide,” to which Leonard came out sporting a snorkeling mask and dancing with a blow-up doll. The last song of their regular set was the popular “Gigantor” featuring an impressive solo by Lee. The band then left the stage, only to return moments later sans Phillips, as they usually do to play the instrumental “Rondo (The Midget’s Revenge)” before being joined back on stage with Phillips to end with the Banana Splits’ “The Tra La La Song (One Banana, Two Banana).”
Authority Zero played a completely different album Sunday night, so as to switch up the songs for people who were attending both nights. T.S.O.L. apparently was cognizant of this as well, as the band played several songs that were not included in their Saturday night setlist. One that stands out is the fast-paced “Man and Machine” as this one is rarely played live. Lead singer and co-founder Jack Grisham appears to be having a great time playing live these days.
I spoke with Grisham earlier this year as the band embarked on dates to play songs off of the 1983 album, “Beneath the Shadows.” He told me that he re-listened to the album and feels that his voice has gotten so much better since then, and he’s actually learned how to sing, so to speak, whereas at the time he was just a young, inexperienced kid. In that regard he feels like his performance has also improved over time.
The band opened their set, as they often do, with “Sounds of Laughter.” Even for those songs that were revisited again Sunday night, T.S.O.L. decided to spice things up by inviting former Adolescents lead guitarist Frank Agnew onstage to play fan favorites “I Wanted to See You” and “Satellites.” After playing “Beneath the Shadows” and “The Right Side,” T.S.O.L. culminated their set with the anthem “Code Blue,” which erupted into a giant, violent mosh pit. The crowd cheered into a loud ovation as the band left the stage. And with that, another successful Warfest was in the books.