Giant Robot Store and GR2 News

No. Fucking. Way. OFF! at Staples Center? I don’t throw down bags of money to see a band in a huge arena very often, but damn. How could I not see the raddest group in the world and pride of L.A. punk staging a coup d’etat at the beloved home of my Lakers and Kings?

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Before starting his set, Keith Morris explained why OFF! wanted to have its eponymous LP release show at the Whisky. Even though the Sunset Strip landmark is now a cheesy venue that seems more concerned with selling drinks to poseurs and T-shirts to tourists than rad shows, it is a symbol of L.A.’s matchless musical history from psychedelic rock like the Doors and Love to first-generation punks the Germs and X to more recent metal shows that even I saw like Guns ‘n’ Roses and Michael Monroe (not to mention touring bands like SNFU, Scream, Sonic Youth, My Bloody Valentine, NOFX, and Green Day, as well as the first Descendents reunion shows…). Add to that OFF!

Openers Spider Fever seemed to soak up some of the venue’s psychedelic past with the elevated stage and high-end light system actually adding some unintentional-yet-not-inappropriate flair to their tweaked take on garage rock ‘n’ roll. I saw OFF! drummer Mario Rubalcaba front the band with his upside-down guitar and no-nonsense singing before playing with Hot Snakes not long ago, but this show seemed even tighter and actually more fun. After seeing the band a few times, it almost seems like the meeting point of many of Mario’s bands: the balls-out rock of RFTC, psychedelic aspects of Earthless, rawness of Clikatat Ikatowi, and energy of OFF! I was stoked to pick up the band’s amazing full-length LP, and you should get it, too.

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OFF! at FYF 2011

One of my favorite photographers is Glen E. Friedman. I was lucky enough to meet him at a few book signings and correspond with him when Giant Robot mag ran a series of articles on Asian-American skaters from the Dogtown days. Friedman’s first proper book was called Fuck You Heroes, and it’s a hardcover that all of you should own. It captures his crisp but natural images from crucial points in counterculture from skateboarding to punk rock to rap, and features heavyweights like Alva, Adams, Black Flag, Minor Threat, Bad Brains, Beastie Boys, and Public Enemy. Not only was he there to witness and capture the energy, but he also vocally espouses the P.M.A., veganism, and other worthy beliefs and causes. Yes. So I was stoked when released his next book with outtake and ancillary images called Fuck You Too. I would never compare my skills to Friedman’s, but in that spirit, here are some extra pics from last weekend’s FYF that are too good to let rot on the hard drive (and might earn me points toward another photo pass next year). A little commentary, too.

Steven McDonald of OFF! at FYF

OFF! is an instant hit decades in the making. If you add up the members’ years of experience of playing kick-ass punk rock ‘n’ roll (Black Flag, Circle Jerks, Redd Kross, Rocket From The Crypt, Earthless, Clikatat Ikatowi, 411, Burning Brides…) the total might approach 100 years–and it shows in a good way.

Japandroids at FYF 2011

This pic of Japandroids is a little blown out, but it accurately conveys how hot it was.

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Mario, Keith, and Steve at FYF Fest 2011

Another awesome summer, another awesome Fuck Yeah Fest. As promised, a lot of improvements went into this year’s all-day music festival just north of Downtown L.A., including a vastly improved entry system insuring no lines when I arrived around 2:30, way more port-a-potties, and extra food trucks and vendors that didn’t run out of vegetarian dishes as quickly. For me, the biggest upgrade was a photo pass. Yes! I gladly bought a ticket from my local record store months ago, but how could I say no when one was offered? With great power comes great responsibility, though, and I had to alter my show-going strategy and leave before many sets were over in order to catch the first three songs of other sets (when the photographers were allowed to do their thing). It was more of a challenge than a problem–kind of like being faced with a huge buffet of your favorite foods but only being allowed to sample some of them.

Dimitri and Keith going OFF!

On Saturday, I arrived at Los Angeles State Historic Park just in time to catch the end of Ty Segall’s set and jump in the photo pit to see OFF! It was kind of a fitting to start off the day with the local punkers/instant legends, since they were a total highlight of the previous year’s edition. There weren’t many new songs for the all-star band featuring members of Black Flag, Redd Kross, and Rocket From The Crypt to play or stories for Keith to tell, but OFF! never gets old with its ferocious (yet seasoned) riffs and angry (and smart) lyrics. This time around, they were on a larger stage and easily drew a strong crowd–not to mention the largest dust storm of the day. I saw a couple people get dragged out of the crowd with glazed eyes, bloody noses, and various states of dehydration. Every time I see OFF! it feels special (a free show at midnight, a packed in-store, etc.) and this homecoming gig following a bunch of tours was no exception.

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