When I got out of the car with my wife, I sure felt out of place. I usually don’t feel my age until I go out now-a-days to a punk show. The crowd sure looked young and probably many were not even born when the headlining band was in their heyday. I admit that I haven’t dressed the part in 15 years and have put on some weight. But I was here, like many of them, to see a band that has not played in Los Angeles in 15 years.
I was here to see Conflict, who I had not seen since 1985. They had played 3 shows in the California area that year and I was privileged to hang out and witness the band at the largest show at the Olympic Auditorium in LA. That was my era and I was forever changed by seeing one of my favorite bands at that time.
Something about going to the Palace is a pain in the ass sometimes. First of all, the show started at 6:00 p.m. on a Friday night. That means having to leave early from work and rush through traffic trying to see the first band. Traffic won the battle and I was 20 minutes late. After getting a butt rub and avoiding getting violated any further from the bouncer at the door I made my way up to the balcony to get a look at the scene.
Contravene were already playing their brand of political Discharge-influenced punk. The song quickly ended and they announced that they were playing their last song. In the confusion, the song ended and I felt cheated because I did not fully soak in what they were all about. I’m not sure if they gave it their all since they did look bored. I would look bored too if I had to play for 10 people.
Lower Class Brats were next. I could not say much about them because I was just starting to get a few beers in me. They were solid but I was not ready for them. I will see them again at the Holidays in the Sun festival in San Francisco next week. I should get a better feel since I will be in vacation mode.
Against All Authority followed. A ska punk band on an anarchist punk bands bill? I was all for it! That’s how gigs were in the past. I bought one of AAA’s 7″‘s in the past and it sounded like shit. I never did listen to anything that this band has done since then. Todd gave me a comp CD of AAA and I changed my opinion of them. Unfortunately I couldn’t say the same about their live sound. The soundboard man needs to retire because he sure in the hell could not mix that room. The vocals and guitar were buried and the kick drum was super loud. He must do a lot of rap concerts.
The crowd finally made its way in and the Unseen were on stage. Here is another band that I don’t follow but have to say that they were enjoyable. My brother labeled them cartoon punks since they had that leather and spikes look going for them. The drummer started off the first few songs up-front as lead vocalist and went back to the kit to bang away for the rest of their set. The kid loved them as they sang along to all their songs. They heated up the crowd with their strong rendition of the Misfits classic, “Halloween.”
Conflict were ready to close. The crowd started to congregate in front of the stage in anticipation to see and hear what most only heard on CD or record. I rushed up to position myself between the stage and the barrier to get some pictures. A giant banner was unveiled with the band logo looming large for all to see. A political commentary started to blare through the PA announcing the time for the band to come out. Members shuffled out and the crowd rang out a mighty roar. As the first notes started to ring out, the crowd went into a frenzy. I had the same sensation being in the pit 15 years ago as I did that day. The only difference was that the only original members of Conflict in the latest incarnation was Colin the singer and the drummer who’s name I had forgotten. I took photo after photo until a bouncer told me I had to leave.
I went back up to the balcony to watch the scene again from above. I noticed again that the sound was horribly mixed again. I could make out songs that I haven’t listened to in over 10 years. It just took some concentration to make out what was being played. Chills would overtake me as song after song was recognized and sang along to. I did not feel like the observer, but a participant again. The slam pit was at full force and ready to consume the entire dance floor. The energy level was at an all time high. Before I knew it, it was all over.
Walking back to the car with my wife, we realized it was only around 10:30 p.m. We were happy that we got to see a band from our past and we would also be in bed by 11:00. That was the best of both worlds in our eyes.