The Garage on schizophrenic Santa Monica Boulevard has a new Wednesday night gig called The Guest List. They call it the Guest List because everyone's on it. You, me, your slutty older sister with the pirate fetish. Everyone. The focal points of The Guest List are dollar beers and free punk rock (what's not to like?) making it one of L.A.'s best-kept secrets. On the last Wednesday in March I wandered down to check out Black Monday, a greaser punk quartet with East L.A. roots. For the last year and half I've watched them get steadily better and better. They've got a full sound with dynamic guitars provided by bassist Rusty Sanchez and the always effervescent Dave Leyva. Jorge Rosas has a real presence on vocals and Miquel Salazar punishes the tubs. While their songwriting is workmanlike (their most inspired performance is a dramatic cover of "Runaway") it's the pleasing combination of talent, work ethic and grit that makes Black Monday go. There aren't too many bands out there that can turn themselves into a professional outfit on sheer desire alone, which leads me to believe that for Black Monday, the best is yet to come. In the meantime, you can check them out on "Old Skars & Upstarts Vol. 2."
Also of note was B-9 (formerly Benign) who cranked out a tight, solid set of well-mannered pop punk in the spirit of Blink 182. It's not really a variety of punk that I enjoy, but it was free and the beer was cheap. Everybody wins, even your slutty sister.