If you frequently attend concerts in the Southern California area, you have likely received a barrage of promotional emails from a place called Marty’s and you may even recognize the name.
The Observatory’s talent buyer Jeff Shuman & X’s manager Mike Rouse have bought out Marty’s, a dive bar gem smack dab in the heart of butt-fucked Tustin, California—in its past life, the bar was known as Marty’s Bar and Grill and hosted mostly karaoke nights and occasionally cover bands. Today, the pair have changed the name to Marty’s On Newport and are developing a business model for Marty’s similar to smaller independent music venues such as The Casbah in San Diego and The Redwood In DTLA. The location may not be as prime as the previously mentioned venues but a huge mailing list of dedicated music junkies, long standing relationships with legendary musicians, and the allure of seeing well known bands in an intimate setting (a max capacity of only around 150 guests) could be the key components that lead to the success of this endeavor.
Last Monday, a free, secret, show at Marty’s, featuring The Dwarves and The Hurricanes was announced online. It was a perfect opportunity to check out the spot and see what the buzz was all about. I tried to pull friends in to join me, but I kept getting the same response, “Tell me how it is, I’ve been meaning to check that place out because I have been getting a ton of emails.” So I headed out solo on a Monday night to get the scoop.
At first glance the line up seemed eclectic to say the least but the punk genre is diverse enough that I didn’t put much thought into the matter. Little did I know just how eclectic the night would get.
The Hurricanes were originally set to headline the show with a lineup of hand-picked openers inclusive to the OC psyche surf-rock scene, but The Dwarves were added to the bill last minute. While the Valley Rats, Messiahs From Outer Space, 3LH, and The Hurricanes are all similar in genre, their styles and presences varied well enough to keep my ADD at bay.
When The Hurricanes took the stage, it was clear that they definitely weren’t in need of an extra band to ensure a good attendance. They put on a damn good performance and their energy was reciprocated by the room full of enthusiastic Hawaiian-shirt-wearing fans. During the intermission before the Dwarves played there was a moment during which I overheard a middle aged punk rock chick mistake a millennial’s Mummy’s t-Shirt for a Mentors t-shirt (they use a very similar font), the look of confusion on his face was a telling sign that he had no idea who the Mentors even were. I couldn’t help but giggle a bit at the clash of cultures. Despite the generational differences in the room, the overall vibe was pretty great. The heavy handed, George Clooney lookalike, bartender along with the stellar set of punk tunes the DJ was spinning helped to bridge the gap and kept the Monday night party rolling along smoothly.
The Dwarves came on last (minus He Who Cannot Be Named) and it started out as a classic punk shitshow as halfway through the first tune, the drummer’s bass drum busted. Someone yelled that he should turn it around and he sprang into action, doing exactly that. It was impressive to say the least. From there, the show got really fun! The standout moment was when Blag exclaimed “Geto Boys is the place to be, Bushwick Bill is the place to be.” To the shock of the crowd and seemingly to Nick Oliveri, Bushwick Bill walked out and started to spit his lyrical magic while The Dwarves’ rhythm section laid down the beat. The Dwarves played all the bangers and the set was a blast, but the best part of the night for me was watching legendary bass player Nick Oliveri fan girl out over sharing the stage with Bushwick Bill while reciting Geto Boys lyrics in the parking lot.
For all of my friends who wanted a report back on the new hot spot, here it is. The cocktails are a little overpriced in my opinion, but the bartender is hot and makes the drinks stiff, so it’s ok. The DJ was amazing. Parking was easy. The layout of the room gives you full view of the stage from the bar. The smoking patio is enclosed and pretty gross, but at least you can drink while you smoke. The ticket prices are high for the acts being booked, but you are paying for the experience of seeing bands you like play a small bar and, depending on how you look at it, that’s pretty cool! I think we can genuinely give this spot the Janky stamp of approval.
Words and Photos by: Jessica Moncrief