Tag Archives: Punk rock

LIVE: Patti Smith, Crystal Ballroom, Portland, OR

Patti Smith: Outside of Society
By Jacob Heiteen

In the immortal words of Kim Gordon’s t-shirt, “Girls Invented Punk Rock Not England.” If you need proof, look no further than the great Patti Smith. She is a punk original, and Rotten and Strummer got nothing on her. While Smith’s music may not scream “PUNK” the way some might know it, her style and attitude couldn’t be anything else but punk. It should also be noted that of all the members of the CBGB scene (which is basically the birthplace of punk), she was the first to put out a record. her first single was released in 1974 and her debut LP came a year later, predating the Ramones, Television, and Richard Hell. She was, in a sense, the first voice of the scene and forever shaped the way American punk would sound for the decades to come.

On January 20th, Patti Smith took the stage of a sold out show at the Crystal Ballroom, showing everyone that despite being 68 she has not lost any of her raw power. Honestly, I’m sure that if you were to compare last night show to one of her 70s show, the only difference would be the gray hair, because she hasn’t lost anything. She sung as fiercely as she did 40 years ago, was a sharp witted as ever, and had moments where she full on rocked the fuck out.

While unfortunately there was no “Gloria,” we did get “Dancing Barefoot,” “People Have The Power,” and “Redondo Beach.” Hearing all those songs played together made me realize that Smith and her band could sound like literally anything they wanted to. They could do a strange slowed-down version of “Smells Like Teen Spirit” (complete with a banjo!), the reggae tinted “Redondo Beach” and loud rockers like “Rock ‘n’ Roll Nigger,” all while having made total sense. There were even a few song with the lead being taken by her longtime bandmate and garage rock aficionado, Lenny Kaye, who may have coined the phrase “punk rock” in the liner notes to his influential Nuggets compilation. The highlight was undoubtedly “Because The Night,” which she dedicated to her late husband, Fred “Sonic” Smith. That song could pump up any room and when the first chorus hit it seemed like everyone in the audience was singing along.

It was also nice to see a show by such an established artist have such a lack of separation between star and audience. Smith seemed completely open and accessible, telling us in great detail about her day, her beloved old TV, and strangely, a seemingly very intense episode of Little House on The Prairie, saying that she’d rather hear talk about a TV show than some “bullshit political rhetoric”. The stage banter was not at all boring, in fact people encroached on it by shouting out questions about her Vatican performance and reaction to Kim Fowley’s death. Smith even went so far as to invite a random audience member take over for her on guitar while she rocked the mic.

The whole show felt like we were hanging out with her, talking with her, jamming with her. There was no ego with Patti. It felt honest, like we were getting the real woman.

Tagged , , , , , , , ,

Episode 59: Punk Rock Means Freedom

[audio https://facesontheradio.files.wordpress.com/2013/12/episode-59_-punk-rock-means-freedom.mp3]

Thanks to Johnny No Bueno for joining us this week! You can catch the episode above, or download it HERE!


  • The evolution and history of punk
  • What exactly does “punk” really mean?
  • Is the music defined by its sound, or its attitude?
  • Who started it? When did it mutate?
  • What does the future hold for the genre?


Bands Mentioned:

  • Hamilton Leithauser / The Walkmen
  • Fugazi
  • Trent Reznor / Nine Inch Nails
  • Pink Eyes / Fucked Up
  • Kim Shattuck / The Muffs
  • Pixies
  • Kim Deal / The Breeders
  • Kim Gordon
  • Ian Watkins / Lostprophets
  • Hurry Up
  • Westin Glass / Kathy Foster / The Thermals
  • The Ghost Ease
  • Howe Gelb
  • Grandaddy
  • Douglas Jenkins / Portland Cello Project
  • Chris Koza / Rogue Valley
  • Norfolk & Western
  • Scott McCaughey / Peter Buck / REM
  • Eddie Vedder / Pearl Jam
  • Kyle Morton / Typhoon
  • Wild Ones
  • Cat Power
  • Mudhoney
  • Radiohead
  • The Rolling Stones
  • Sleater Kinney
  • Menomena
  • Gang of Four
  • TV on the Radio
  • Brainstorm
  • Gallons
  • Big Freedia
  • Ben Gibbard / The Postal Service
  • Aggrolites
  • Dropkick Murphys
  • Skinny Puppy
  • Al Jourgensen / Ministry
  • Lil’ Wayne
  • The Meatmen
  • Henry Rollins / Greg Ginn / Ron Reyes / Keith Morris / Black Flag
  • Johnny Rotten / Sid Vicious / Sex Pistols
  • Earth Crisis
  • GG Allin
  • Operation Ivy
  • MDC/Millions of Dead Cops
  • The Beatles
  • Eric B & Rakim
  • 2 Live Crew
  • 2 Short
  • Digital Underground
  • The Ramones
  • Television
  • New York Dolls
  • Iron Maiden
  • Joy Division
  • New Order
  • Buzzcocks
  • The Damned
  • Pink Floyd
  • Shane West / The Germs
  • FLAG
  • Off!
  • Brendan Canning / Broken Social Scene
  • Glenn Danzig / Jerry Only / Dez Cadena / Misfits
  • Boondocks
  • Danzig
  • The Slits
  • The Specials
  • Joe Strummer / Mick Jones / Paul Simonon / Nicky Headon / The Clash
  • Lee “Scratch” Perry
  • Kathleen Hanna / Bikini Kill
  • Kurt Cobain / Nirvana
  • Gossip
  • The Escaped
  • Rum Rebellion
  • Young Turks
  • Low
  • Codeine
  • Tommy Stinson / The Replacements
  • Backstreet Boys
  • The 101ers
  • The Mescaleros
  • Big Audio Dynamite
  • Mike Watt / Minutemen
  • Mission of Burma
  • Minor Threat
  • Hüsker Dü
  • Butthole Surfers
  • Big Black
  • Dinosaur Jr.
  • Beat Happening
  • U2
  • LITE
  • Explosions in the Sky
  • 65daysofstatic
  • Circle Jerks
  • X
  • Teenage Jesus & the Jerks
  • Talking Heads
  • Jello Biafra / East Bay Biafra / Dead Kennedys
  • Pere Ubu
  • Drake
  • Frank Ocean
  • Miguel
  • Future
  • Foals
  • Animal Eyes
  • Dresses
  • Phoenix
  • Holiday Friends
  • Vampire Weekend
  • Lorde
  • Arctic Monkeys
  • Black Keys
  • Eyelids
  • Lee Ranaldo & the Dust
  • Steve Shelley
  • Wild & Scenic
  • Ellis Pink
  • Khan Heir
  • Dismemberment Plan
  • Telekinesis
  • Black Crowes
  • High on Fire
  • Lovers
  • Your Rival
  • Beyonce
Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

LIVE: FIDLAR, The Observatory, Santa Ana, CA

By Gabriel Mathews

So, Orange County is a scary place. It’s like you’ve gone through a timewarp into a John Hughes movie where kids rebel by either growing out or shaving off their hair, making their own clothing, and going to punk shows like this one. Just to get that out of the way.

But anyway, I went to this show pretty much because FIDLAR’s debut album FIDLAR was the soundtrack of my spring. The last semester of college, my friends and I banded around this scrappy punk band’s incredibly tight songs, their ridiculously catchy hooks, their youthful fury and goofiness and sense of endless fun. We did a lot of headbanging in our kitchens and driveways to songs like “No Waves,” “Cheap Beer,” and “5 to 9.” It was endlessly fun—we could not have listened to this album too much, it was impossible.

In a tragic turn, one of these friends moved away, and the others decided to go see the band in Santa Barbara the following night, when I had to work. So it ended up being just me and my girlfriend, cruising down to the OC, through endless semi-urban sprawl, eating some great pupusas, and then hitting up The Observatory.

The Observatory is a pretty rad venue, actually. They’ve got great sound, and a whole tiered amphitheatre type setup where you can be very close to the stage without actually being in the Pit of Death. This is nice when you’re trying to focus on very weird things happen on stage, like a performance by The Garden.

I don’t even think these guys were on the bill until something like the last minute. But thank god they were, because this was one of the most punk rock things I’ve ever witnessed, and it wasn’t even punk rock. It was twin brothers on drums and bass/vocals, wearing matching black turtlenecks, flood pants, and lone dangly earrings, playing songs that averaged at about thirty seconds in length. The bassist stalked around the stage like a deranged duck much of the time, unless he was announcing song titles like “The Life And Times Of The Paperclip” (an instrumental), or grunting nonsense like “Have you ever seen an apple? / Have you ever seen an apple walking around?” (Then he did his best imitiaton.) He also often just grunted meaningless syllables. The drummer occasionally hopped out from behind his kit to prance about like an eight-year-old girl, before getting back on his throne and hitting yet another snare roll. How this band memorized so goddamn many fifteen second songs, I have no idea, but I do know that the one where the bassist kept running back to his amp, making feedback, and then turning to make faces at the audience was probably my favorite. Also, “We Be Grindin’.” That one was real good. At no time did The Garden look like they were having fun, but the audience ate up their Sparks-meets-Death From Above 1979-meets-Whirlwind Heat absurdity.

It’s a good thing, too, because the reserves of entertainment The Garden left in me got me through a horrendously boring set by Meat Market. Seriously, how many of these fucking bands do we need? How many can the planet sustain? Oh, let’s just kind of shout some poppy little hooks while we hit a few straightforward chords and if we smile enough then the crowd will like it, too! I’m all for pop-punk, I’m all for good hooks, I’m all for simple songs, but the lack of artistry Meat Market brought to the genre made them shine even less brightly than most of their dullard peers.

The Orwells fared significantly better. Anything you ever read about this band (at least for the next couple years) will mention their youth. The five boys of The Orwells probably have about six pubic hairs between them, it’s true. What you probably won’t hear is that they’re also evidently quite rich. Dudes hail from some western suburb of Chicago, and have the gear to prove it—Ampeg stacks, Gretsch guitars, a shiny Ludwig drum kit. These lads are not the struggling little punks you might imagine from their music, but I suppose it fits with the pissed rich-kid vibe FIDLAR give off. Anyway, despite their youth and money, The Orwells are actually pretty good. Frontman Mario Cuomo’s name shocked me when I found it on Wikipedia because he looks like a Nordic god, not Rivers’ beefier brother. The guy flailed about the stage like a very very young and drunk Robert Plant (and, according to my friends who caught them in SB, he has the sex appeal, too: lots of young ladies came up on stage to make out with him at that show), and flung his long curly blonde locks about while singing songs about teenage love and teenage drugs. Guitarist Dominic Corso, after slipping out of his checkered Vans, rocked some mean riffs. They closed out their set with a pretty excellent rendition of “I Wanna Be Your Dog,” which is hard to pull off. But behind their snazzy gear, it seems The Orwells do, in fact, have some of that desperate energy that served Iggy Pop so well in his early years

“Hi, we’re FIDLAR, F-I-D-L-A-R, it means Fuck It Dog, Life’s A Risk.” FIDLAR spokesman Zac Carper made this pronouncement no fewer than four times during their manic set. The fans clearly took the mantra at face value—I have never seen so many swan dives into a churning mosh pit. I actually tried to get into that mosh pit, but when it became clear the only way in was leaping off the next level up, I decided to just mosh by myself where I was standing. There was no way not to mosh: “Stoked And Broke,” “Cocaine,” “Max Can’t Surf”—these songs are just too good to not get you riled up. What constantly amazes me about FIDLAR is that, despite all the drugs and drink they seem to be on at all times (bassist Brandon Schwartzel went through at least one bottle of red wine while on stage), they still craft incredibly tight songs with all the moving parts in the right places. This should be the sloppiest band on earth, and yet they play like pros together, and so stand out well above even their less shitfaced peers.

FIDLAR is comprised of Carper, son of famed surfboard designer John, on guitar/vocals, Elvis and Max Kuehn, sons of T.S.O.L. bassist and record producer Greg, on guitar/vocals and drums respectively, and Schwartzel, son of someone named Schwartzel, on bass. Hence my reference to their loadedness above. But FIDLAR’s songs about being too broke to buy even the cheapest beer actually seem to come from an authentic place. Maybe their dads cut them off after finding them “coming down off cheap PCP” one night. In any case, the poverty-stricken image suits them well. If these guys had guitars like The Orwells, I just wouldn’t be able to buy a word they were saying. But instead they have fucked up gear, fucked up faces, and a fucked up mentality to match.

Sadly, FIDLAR didn’t hit my personal favorite song (that would be “5 to 9”) but they did play some diehard-pleasing old ones like “Awkward” and the super-heavy “The Punks Are Finally Taking Acid”. After Schwartzel’s final falsettoed “thank you!” (he did this after every single song), I left largely satisfied. It’d have been more fun if I’d decided to take that dive and hang out with the timewarp OC kids in the pit, and even more fun to have been with my friends up in Santa Barbara the following night. This is music to not be alone to, this is music that demands you scream along into someone’s face. This is some communal shit, and I think FIDLAR actually get that.

Tagged , , , , , , , , , , ,