Our Last Gig: Observatory


It’s a quiet backstage at load in.
For a change, there’s not a bunch of young guys running around trying to scam extra wrist bands, no yelling over the lineup due to sold-tickets status.

Everyone works with the quiet efficiency that comes from decades of humping anvil cases in and out of sheds on countless Saturday nights.
Lots of gray hairs and crows feet smiles: hushed greetings and hugs are exchanged, as if we are all reveling in the brief calm before the lights drop and all hell breaks loose on that stage and in the pit.

This is a solid lineup of working bands, the combined age of the players tonight approaching millennial status!

Catching up with Kevin...
Catching up with Kevin Seconds…

First up is The Vermin, old schoolers out of Vegas.
They got a nice crowd going early, and after the set Bad Ink boys Dirk and Rob eye my trusty straight edge tattoo and think it might be fixable….hah!


The Vermin and vermin
The Vermin and vermin
Straight Edge for life yo!
Straight Edge for life yo!

We’re up next to do the damn thing one more time for the year:




Usual Santa Tbone has to work late, so we go with the only suitable replacement, madman Paulie!

..suit up bitch!
..suit up bitch!

Paul comes out for Blue Christmas, and proceeds to provoke the crowd with his white trash stripper moves and extreme liberal politics.
But that all blows over once he brings out the sack and throws a few shirts into the crowd!


Ant gives Santa the boot!
Ant gives Santa the boot!

We get the hell off stage and change into sensible holiday sweaters, then head up to the balcony before the mighty 7 Seconds comes on!

The crew up yonder is in the holiday spirit, drinks are being tossed back, drunken promises are made, sloppy kisses are avoided…..
See? We have office Christmas parties too!

Tim wins ugly sweater award....again.
Tim wins ugly sweater award….again.







The 7 Seconds crew sounds just great, the whole joint is all Whoa and Oh like a singular beast.
There be a fearsome pit brewing down below!



There’s time to run backstage to pester our pals The Adolescents
while they’re trying to get ready to play.
They shoo us away, though not before we’ve swiped most of the good beer out of their dressing room!

Adolescents: No Way!!



The Adolescents kill it once again, and when the lights come up on the room it looks like a bomb has gone off.
A sweaty, happy bomb.

Again with the backstage shenanigans:






And just like that, it’s all over.
The night has sped by way too fast, too many people we never got a chance to talk to and too many things left unsaid.
This wraps up the year for us, and what better way than with a bunch of fine folk.

We load out into the December night air with that twinge of satisfied sadness that the year end always seems to bring.

Now get the hell out of here, and Merry Christmas, ya nuts!

additional photos: thanks to Jesse Naber, Max Gardener, One Punk Army, Rob Simundson, Videos via Sex_N_Violence channel

Photoblog: A gathering of the tribe


Who knew?

We’re loaded in and set on backline, ready to stroll over to Joe Jost’s for our usual
pre-game: Special and a Schooner. Maybe an egg.

Johnny’s doing sound tonight, and he comes in with a box of mics, looks around the room and stops me on the way out.
“What’s going on in here, all these people?” he asks.

I look around, and it’s true.
The room is already half full, this at 7:45pm. Every barstool taken, people already camped out in the booth stage right.

We’re used to the room being empty, at least until 25 minutes into the second band.
Oh, you know… Long Beach.

“Huh.” I say.
“What, some kind of party earlier today?”

I see a few familiar faces in the room, but for the most part it is not the usual Alex’s crowd.
Fewer tats, less ironical facial hair.

These people look, well, excited to be here.

Tbone tunes his girl
Tbone tunes his girl

We threw a party of old chums and had no idea if anyone would show.
After all, it’s one thing to join the party on Facebook, just a mouseclick of commitment while you sit in your footie pajamas on a cold Wednesday night, bottle at hand.
But to venture out into the night, post-daylight savings, and brave the bewildering parking laws of Anaheim boulevard?

Oh, they came out brother, and from the looks of things they wore their sippin’ shoes!






The night kicks off with Full Tilt Trio, and Tbone gets his chance to show the hometown crowd he’s all growed up!



The room is packing by now, and it’s a true pleasure to catch up with Joe Wood and his Lonely Ones!




Joe and Mike
Joe and Mike

Let me tell you, we’re having fun now!
Drinks are spilled as people rush across the sticky floor—faces from the past come through the front door, shouts and hugs are exchanged.
Wide grins, weepy smiles.

It’s like a high school reunion for all the bad kids—finally!












Mike Eldred Trio is up on the boards, and Mike and company do that thing they do:

Rocks the joint, dusts the broom, shakes the moneymaker:
You know, all those Bluesy sexual things, that’s what they do!



Brophy Dale
Brophy Dale
...and free guitar lessons onstage?   What else ya want??
…and free guitar lessons onstage?
What else ya want??

I vaguely remember us up there too, something about shoes being thrown and very bad behavior from fifty-year old men in the pit.
But what the hell?

No one’s working tomorrow, so we let ‘er rip!



It’s like being back in the yard, a Cerritos night party, when I look over and see old pal Larry Kelley onstage.
And the years past are erased when I feel his familiar bass lines coming to me from stage right.

Center stage, we’re singing one of the old ones now, and it’s in my periphery that I sense Larry there: there’s no gray hairs or wrinkles coming between us from this angle.

It’s as comforting a sight as a full bottle of Xanax next to the NyQuil on the nightstand, I tells ya!

Larry the K!
Larry the K!

All too early, it’s over.

Kisses are planted upon cheek and mouth, phone numbers entered and saved on borrowed phones.
We make drunkenly solemn promises not to let another 30 years go by, but you know how that goes.

Tomorrow is Thanksgiving, and everyone has plans.
At this age, this generation, we’re left largely without parents.

Gone are the days of the automatic Thanksgiving meetings at Mom’s house, maybe still off the 91 freeway and those familiar offramps.

We had those years of just showing up, fighting with our brothers and sisters and going back to our shitty apartments by the beach for bong rips when we had our fill of family.

But it’s different now.
We are the parents now, and new traditions have begun.
It’s a terrifying thing if you stop and consider the ongoing march of time, and how we take the place of those we held solid as boulders not five, ten years before.

But we take our seat at the big kids’ table and now make the turkey ourselves.

And who knows, if we are starting our own traditions now, around our own families, who’s to say we haven’t started another one?
This one, with the family we’ve chosen.


Additonal photos from Ronnie Lyon, Martin Wong, and ripped off of Facebook!