When I got to the Observatory in Santa Ana, the first things I saw were teenagers drinking whiskey from water bottles, old timers drunkenly fighting in the parking lot and babes with mohawks bouncing around. The scene has been set for one of the gnarliest punk shows I’ve seen in a long time. Last night, The Observatory had the ultimate punk line up, The Widows, Channel 3, The Stitches, The Weirdos, and The Adolescents. This was an all ages show, and when I say all ages I mean all ages. There were what i call, with all due respect, “old timers” with canes, blue hair, and driver caps as well as toddlers in patched up denim vests with mohawks. I was loving every moment of it. Out of all the shows I’ve been to, punk shows seem to be the most family oriented and friendly shows, ironically. The only time I almost got knocked out over the course of the show was when I was pulling a girl through the crowd to get up closer and forgot to say sorry to the dick head i accidentally bumped into.
The first band up were The Widows. I’ve never heard of them before but they got the show off to a good start, the crowd was fucking moving. First decent circle pit I have seen in a long time. The pit was lined with participants who kept the remainder of the floor section safe from flying fists. I know I’ve written of sappy nostalgic moments before, but this was truly nostalgic. I watched the pit a majority of the show watching the girls with mohawks beating down the drunk gutter punks in the pit. They reminded me of my ex girl friends from when i was a wee lad of 15. As soon as The Widows were done they announced The Stitches were up next.
Channel 3 took the stage going along with The Widows announcement and introduced themselves as The Stitches. Now i was really starting to get confused and all the Budweiser wasn’t helping. Channel 3 started off by pounding some PBR tall cans. to prepare themselves and us for the anarchy they were about to release on us all. Channel 3 was the only band over the course of the night to call the show a Christmas show. They even brought out Santa Clause to skank around the stage and throw t-shirts to the crowd from his dirty old bag. Channel 3 really fucked shit up with some of my favorite songs such as “Mannequin” and “I Got A Gun”.
Following Channel 3 were actually The Stitches. Now here was another punk band I may have listened to as a kid but had no recollection of their music. So I was really surprised when I noticed they weren’t like all the other OC punk bands. They had more of a Dickies vibe to them. At one point the singer, Mike Lohrman, disconnected the mic and threw it at some unlucky kids face in the crowd. They trashed that fucking stage, mic stands and all. Literally one song later, some one from the crowd throws the mic back into Mike Lohrman’s hand. I was in complete disbelief. These guys blew me the fuck away. During the Stitches set, out of nowhere, this blonde bombshell was licking spilled booze off my arm. I let it slide, obviously.
Finally, The Weirdos took the stage. Over the course of the night I kept hearing Old Timers talk about how the Weirdos should really be headlining this show. These guys were dressed like an old English punk band. John Denney was topped with a derby and the rest of the band were wearing suits covered in spray paint. John Denney Is just one of those front men who have what it takes. With every lyric he sang he made these gremlin like faces as he would stare off into the distance. The place absolutely erupted when they broke into “We got the Neutron Bomb”. There’s just so much I could say about The Weirdos but I will leave you with the recommendation of seeing their next show. With Zander Schloss on Bass, they are by far, one of the most potent old punk bands to pick it back up again.
After a long break The Adolescents took the stage. The Adolescents only consist of two original members; founding members Steve Soto and Tony Cadena. Both of them are old fat fucks that could pass for your creepy PE coach, and I say that in the most affectionate way possible. The Adolescents, surprisingly, played a lot of new songs, a giant bummer for me who only cares about the originals. I’m starting to think they have just forgotten the lyrics to their original work. They made this apparent when Tony forgot the words to “Rip It Up”. He blamed it on their friend Scott who was playing guitar for them that night on an upside down guitar. Don’t blame it on the lefty Tony! So following a failed “Rip It Up” came take 2 of “Rip It Up” and this time he sang the entire song. Half way through the set Tony brought on a friends son to play L.A. Girl with them as a present for the young mans birthday. The kid was caught completely off guard and this was seemingly, unscripted. Tony had the venue turn on the lights, he turns to the kid, and says, “Don’t let them scare you.” Luckily the kid didn’t fuck up. What a Birthday present! Tony called The Adolescents the Oprah’s of punk music after that wish came true. The band left the stage which of course we all knew would lead to an encore since they hadn’t played a few of their hits. Of course we were right and the encore began with a fake out. They started playing “Rip It Up” again. I couldn’t stop laughing. Their encore was “Creatures” and “Wrecking Crew”. I’m bummed they did not play “I Hate Children” but then again the venue was full of them.
Words and Photos: Taylor Wong