The most punk moments we witnessed at No Values



Those who like to claim punk is dead clearly didn’t witness the turnout of more than 40,000 people for Goldenvoice’s inaugural No Values festival at the Pomona Fairgrounds on Saturday. Once we got past the frustration of the traffic-snarled entrances to the Pomona Fairgrounds, the furiously infectious energy across five stages and the multigenerational dream lineup of punk and ska certainly made GV’s first attempt at Punkchella feel like a time capsule moment in the mosh pit. Cramming as much music into one day as we possibly could, here’s the recap of what we experienced once our Doc Martens hit the asphalt.

Traffic woes

The hottest topic among fans walking into No Values was not which bands they were excited to see, but how long they were stuck in traffic to get to the festival.

I heard a horror story about a nearly six-hour drive from San Diego, when a group left at 10:30 a.m. and didn’t get inside the gates until close to 4 p.m. I and other friends coming in from Riverside each faced three-hour journeys to drive the 30 or so miles to Pomona. And every map app showed a big stretch of red wherever you exited a freeway to get to the Fairplex.

The parking lots opened hours ahead of the festival gates and Goldenvoice suggested fans arrive early. But many attendees who arrived during the day faced gridlock and a lack of staff directing cars once they got into the gate.

Multiple fans who said they paid for tickets that included preferred parking (a $50 up-charge on general admission and included with the $399 VIP ticket) were shunted to the regular lot.

Mariko Green, 34, and Michael Ferri, 40, from Aliso Viejo, traveled in an Uber from Yorba Linda to attend the fest. When they departed, the trip was expected to take 45 minutes. An hour into their journey, about three miles away from the Fairplex, their estimated time of arrival was another 90 minutes.

They exited the Uber about a mile and a half from the Fairplex to walk to the festival. They weren’t alone.

“We saw a lot of people in Misfits shirts walking in the same direction,” Ferri said.

“All stopping in the same little market to pick up a water for their then 30-minute walk,” Green added. “We knew where we were going because everyone was in a little train of punks.”

First-time festivals always have kinks, but for a venue that sees 750,000 people across the span of the L.A. County Fair, albeit over a month, it was rough, although some fans compared it to the traffic woes from when the Vans Warped Tour was held at the venue.

Goldenvoice did not respond to a request for comment on the traffic situation.

Leaving was also chaotic, but more in line with what I would expect from a sold-out festival. Unlike driving in, there was some traffic control for pedestrians to cross surrounding streets. I left about 35 minutes into the Misfits’ closing set for the walk back to the car, which was pretty close to an exit, in an effort to head off some of the traffic. I wasn’t the only one with this idea so it still took me just under an hour to get out of the parking lot. — Vanessa Franko

Scowl

There was a clear age gap in the bands at No Values — with most bands sitting either under the age of 40 or over the age of 60 — and never was it more apparent how much more interesting the young bands were compared with their older counterparts than with Scowl. Playing in the same early afternoon slot as local punk legends like the Vandals, T.S.O.L. and the Aquabats, Scowl’s unique take on hardcore drew a sizable crowd to the most remote side stage that wouldn’t be replicated for hours. Kat Moss continues to be a remarkable new talent for the genre, and the band as a whole is among the brightest stars the scene has witnessed in some time. The only shame was how early they played in the blazing sunlight in the middle of a parking lot. But perhaps that was for the best, since sunshine is how flowers grow. — Josh Chesler

The vibe

Despite the issues of getting into the festival, once inside things were much improved.

I never went to the Vans Warped Tour in Pomona proper, but I went to plenty held in stadium parking lots on the East Coast and even I had a sense of déjà vu walking around No Values.

There was even a giant Vans-branded skate ramp set up for demos and while the Jesus Lizard played the nearby Garey Ave stage, Tony Hawk dropped in. And then Bucky Lasek and Steve Caballero. It was as if “Tony Hawk Pro Skater” had come to life — the sun-drenched and asphalt-covered Fairplex compound would have made a perfect backdrop for a level of the video game — and the punk soundtrack was already included.

However, if No Values makes a return to this venue, more bathrooms and water refill stations would be helpful. — VF

T.S.O.L.

Though the punk rock star power at No Values was immense, the lineup assembled by live music juggernaut Goldenvoice could never have come together without bands like T.S.O.L. that laid the foundation for its founder Gary Tovar, who was beaming on the side of the stage watching Jack Grisham and company coming out swinging on stage, whipping up a mosh pit in the late afternoon sun to “Sounds of Laughter.” Decked out in suits and shades, the band of veteran punkers including original guitarist Ron Emory and keyboardist Greg Kuehn (with help from touring drummer Antonio Val Hernandez and bassist Brandon Reza) definitely meant business, just as they did back in 1980 — albeit with more polish these days and less chance that one of them would commit a crime after the show.

Sitting back in their trailer after the sweltering 13-song set that ended with their necrophilia anthem “Code Blue,” Emory talked about the early days of the SoCal punk scene that gave life to Goldenvoice and this festival that drew tens of thousands to the fairgrounds more than 45 years after the first pissed off chords were played in their native Huntington Beach. “That time period in the late ‘70s in Orange County, you could go out every night of the week and see some great bands,” Emory said. “Later on in 1981-82, thanks to Gary Tovar laundering his drug money, he brought all these phenomenal bands on one show. And Jerry Roach from the Cuckoo’s Nest was bringing in a lot of great bands also. I remember back then we were just stoked to play there, sold out the Nest at least 20 times and every time we made $25 bucks — and we were stoked, we couldn’t believe we got paid to do this!” — Nate Jackson

The Dillinger Escape Plan

Reunited metalcore heroes The Dillinger Escape Plan stormed the Mission Blvd Stage in the late afternoon for its first show since 2017, pummeling the crowd with a sonic assault punctuated by the shrill howls and deep growls of original frontman Dimitri Minakakis (who blew a giant fireball into the air at one point).

Dillinger has always set itself apart from its contemporaries with heady, technical instrumentation, but in a lineup filled with older acts playing mostly old-school punk, the contrast was even more apparent.

After overcoming a brief technical difficulty with a microphone early in the set, Dillinger reached into the history books and brought out two heavy hitters — Dead Kennedy’s frontman Jello Biafra for a run through DK’s “California Über Alles,” and Suicidal Tendencies singer Mike Muir for a cover of Minor Threat’s “In My Eyes.” — Niyaz Pirani

The Damned

The Damned were one of the oldest (and most British) bands on the entirety of the elderly No Values lineup, yet they sounded crisper and more energetic than acts decades their junior. By the time they were halfway through the opening “Wait for the Blackout,” they had generations of punks rocking out — all while still cracking jokes about their own age. As far as punk rock pioneers go, The Damned have aged more gracefully than just about any of their contemporaries, and Dave Vanian has to be considered the genre’s most likely vampire. Shoutout to The Dead Milkmen (who performed immediately before on a distant stage) for playing both “Punk Rock Girl” and “Bitchin’ Camaro” earlier in their set and telling people they wouldn’t be offended if anyone left to watch The Damned. — JC

The Garden

The Garden delivered a high-energy set on the Holt Avenue stage, mixing elements of punk and hip-hop to create a sound all its own. Switching back and forth between playing instruments and singing over pre-recorded beats, the Orange County twins Wyatt and Fletcher Shears have become favorites among younger punk fans on the West Coast. With their unique look, style and personality, they have definitely made an impression on the ladies of the scene, who occupied the majority of the front of the barricade. Four out of the five women I talked to on the rail said they definitely “like liked” at least one of the Garden twins; the fifth was “positively in love with Fletcher.” Since I first saw them perform over 10 years ago at a small venue by the dump in Anaheim called AAA Electra 99 Art Museum, when they were still high schoolers, a lot has changed. They have become a major force in the SoCal music scene and are definitely a band to expect great things from in the future. — Richard Johnson

Festival fashion

The standard attire for No Values included a black T-shirt emblazoned with a band logo — whether said band was on the bill or not.

Not shockingly, headliners The Misfits and Social Distortion battled it out for the top spot in my unofficial No Values band T-shirt popularity count.

While I spotted dozens of each, ultimately The Misfits’ “Crimson Ghost” skull logo edged out those wearing Social Distortion’s logo with or without the band’s martini-drinking, cigarette-smoking skeleton mascot Skelly.

The third most-repped band was Suicidal Tendencies, whose fans not only wore T-shirts, but also had vests and jackets with full back patches. I spotted a few people sporting ball caps with flipped up lids emblazoned with the band’s logo.

Bad Religion came in fourth, but there was also a very impressive showing by a band that could have been on the bill but wasn’t: Descendents. I saw many a cartoon Milo — the band’s nerdy mascot based on frontman Milo Aukerman — during the day as well as a shirts repping Rancid. (Hey Goldenvoice, my very scientific T-shirt popularity research suggests both of these would be a hit on the lineup if No Values returns, I’m just saying.)

The funniest T-shirt I spotted was for the nonexistent tour of fictional band The Lone Rangers, from the 1994 Movie “Airheads” starring Steve Buscemi, Brendan Fraser and Adam Sandler as the members of the group.

However, the oddest band merch I saw was the dude in the Slipknot mask in the crowd they showed on the screen during Turnstile’s set. Knotfest this was not. — VF

The Vandals

The Vandals might be known as punk rock’s original pranksters, but we know when they’re telling the truth. “Hey guys, parking today was easy right? Did you guys get in here ok?” guitarist Warren Fitzgerald asked the crowd, who answered him with a collective groan. Luckily hearing classics like “Urban Struggle” made jokes about our traffic struggle sting a little less. The punk lifers from OC turned in a feverishly fun set full of classics like “Anarchy Burger,” “My Girlfriend’s Dead,” “Oi to the World” and “I Have a Date” with all the energy and jokes you’d expect from guys who’ve been masters of not taking anything seriously since the day they started. However, one line from Fitzgerald could definitely be taken seriously: “This is like a celebration of all of punk rock in one day!” — NJ

Hepcat

Ska bands held forth at No Values: The Selecter, Fishbone, The Aquabats, The Skeletones and The Untouchables had hordes of checkered fans skanking to the beat at the fest’s smaller stages. Yet the most meaningful set of the afternoon came from L.A. ska/rocksteady stalwart Hepcat, who performed for the first time since the unexpected death of singer Greg Lee earlier this spring. Under a cloudless, midafternoon sky, Hepcat’s short and sweet tribute performance honored Lee’s energy. Co-lead singer Alex Désert worked overtime, taking over for Lee on fan favorites such as “Dance Wid’ Me” and “Hooligans,” while riffing on the fragility of life and expressing gratitude for the support of their many fans. Hepcat closed its 35-minute set with a time-and-half take on “No Worries” — which Lee long ago dubbed “the Prozac song” — a fitting tribute to the positive spirit of their late leader and the joy Hepcat brings. — Jessica Lipsky

Sublime

A reinvigorated Sublime, which pairs the band’s original members with Jakob Nowell — the son of original frontman, the late Bradley Nowell — a couple months removed from its triumphant return at Coachella, performed a set that married punk and hardcore with chilled out reggae and songs that still slap after almost three decades later.

Leaning into three songs each from “40 oz. to Freedom,” “Robbin’ the Hood” and “Sublime,” the band filled out its set with covers of songs by Toots & the Maytals, Bad Religion, Descendents and more.

“How dope are my uncles right now, bro?” Nowell asked the crowd. “All of these guys grew up together in Long Beach”

The younger Nowell resurrects the spirit of his father to nostalgic ears, capturing his signature vocal intonations genuinely, while adding his own flourish in a way that instantly connected with the crowd, both at No Values and their recent Coachella performance.

No shade to Rome Ramirez, who kept the band’s legacy alive as “Sublime With Rome” over the last decade-plus, but Jakob Nowell’s ascension to frontman feels like a natural birthright. — NP

FIDLAR

If Social Distortion is SoCal’s all-time punk rock band (its set at No Values made it very clear that it is), then FIDLAR is the next generation to hold that mantle. Their late afternoon set on the farthest side stage (which housed many of the young bands) drew millennial and Gen Z punks away from Suicidal Tendencies and the Selecter to mosh to FIDLAR songs new and old — always starting with “Cheap Beer” and closing with its cover of Jackson Browne’s “Cocaine.” While they might not have the universal draw of Turnstile, the FIDLAR guys always find a way to speak to the messed up and misunderstood punk kids better than anyone else these days. Also, I didn’t see anyone else specifically call for a “girls-only mosh pit” all day, despite so many mentions of inclusion in the genre. — JC

L7

Easily one of the toughest acts on the bill, L7 opened with “Andres,” all grinding guitars and attitude, as singer-guitarist Suzi Gardner sneered at the memory of a studio dude from a mid-’90s recording session (“He’s really, really nice, but we had a problem!”). The all-female hard-rock/alt-rock quartet came out of L.A.’s male-dominated punk rock scene, and singer-guitarist Donita Sparks noted the inevitably male-leaning lineup of the fest, saying the band was “proud to be the rare [female] people on this stage!” drawing cheers from the crowd. Later, bassist Jennifer Finch led the crowd in a celebratory chant of “I say ‘L,’ you say ‘7!’” And Finch drolly responded, “Thank you, guys. I’m going to remember that at my day job tomorrow.” — Steve Appleford

Joyce Manor

There wasn’t a ton of pop-punk represented at No Values, but Joyce Manor was there to make sure that the representation it received was top-notch. Celebrating the 10th anniversary of its seminal “Never Hungover Again” next month, the pride of Torrance was in peak shape at the festival, providing a strong alternative to those who didn’t feel the need to watch Bad Religion for the umpteenth time. As the band veering as close to “emo” as it got at No Values, Joyce Manor’s strong songwriting and high-energy performance seemed amplified in comparison with some of the more geriatric acts clearly approaching things with a more nostalgia-fueled tongue-in-cheek approach. — JC

Turnstile

The average age of the singers of the three top-billed acts at No Values (Misfits, Social Distortion and Iggy Pop) is 69.

Then there was the fourth-billed act on the lineup — Baltimore hardcore outfit Turnstile, whose members are in their 30s and whose evening set attracted audience members young and old. If it was not quite a torch-passing moment for the genre, it certainly set the groundwork for it with the band’s blend of punishing drums and danceable beats.

The set started off with a moody synth intro before the band came on stage for a blistering rendition of “T.L.C. (Turnstile Love Connection)” and a set that leaned heavily on the band’s most recent album, 2021’s “Glow On,” appropriate for the golden hour backdrop. — VF

Iggy Pop

“We’re going right back to the hardcore!” a euphoric Iggy Pop declared midway through a searing 12-song set near the end of the night. As the man at No Values arguably most responsible for laying the groundwork for the punk tradition, Pop arrived fully loaded with a band of heavy hitters that included guitarists Nick Zinner (Yeah Yeah Yeahs) and Matt Sweeney (Chavez). Pop, still roaring and shirtless at 77, leaned heaviest on his groundbreaking protopunk work with The Stooges: “I Wanna Be Your Dog” (from “1969”) was as weird and feral as ever, and the crazed overlapping guitars of “Search and Destroy” (1973) sounded about ready to fly apart just like they’re supposed to. — SA

Viagra Boys

This young Swedish act embodied the punk ethos in sound and hilarious antisocial inclinations. The band began with “Ain’t No Thief” as its American frontman, Sebastian Murphy, stepped onstage and immediately removed his shirt, revealing a pale torso covered in tattoos and a gut proudly hanging over the elastic band of his gym pants. As ever, Murphy was a charismatic jokester, taunting and self-deprecating, telling the crowd repeatedly, “I’ve never seen so many punks in my life!” He had a motley crew of players behind him, with sax and synths along with guitar/bass/drums, and they stretched out on “Research Chemicals” in some weird and exciting musical directions. — SA

Social Distortion

Just before Social Distortion took the stage a few minutes late to perform in its headlining set on the Mission Blvd. Stage, frontman Mike Ness warmed up on the side of the stage, hopping aaround like a boxer ready for a title fight.

Alongside guitarist Jonny “Twobags” Wickersham, drummer Dave Hidalgo Jr., and bassist Brent Harding, Ness, couldn’t help but be moved by the sea of fans cheering, paying tribute to what was built over the past 45 years.

Mixing in early tunes like “1945,” “The Creeps” and “Mommy’s Little Monster,” the hits like “Ball and Chain,” “I Was Wrong” and “Story of My Life” and a couple of new tracks before ending with “Ring of Fire,” Social Distortion showed not only that it’s still going strong, but that somehow, someway, it’s continuing to resonate with punks of all ages. — NJ

Steve Ignorant

The Steve Ignorant Band performed the songs of CRASS, the seminal anarchist music art collective that he co-founded with Penny Rimbaud in the 1970s. The crowd was instantly whipped into a frenzy as the Second Street stage spun around to reveal the band already blasting out the CRASS anthem “Do They Owe Us a Living?” featuring singer-songwriter Carol Hodge on vocals. Steve and Carol performed songs from the album “Penis Envy,” as well as other CRASS classics such as “Shaved Woman,” “Screaming Babies” and “Punk Is Dead.” It was a very emotional set for fans, marking the group’s last U.S. concert for the foreseeable future. At one point, the band abruptly stopped playing, and Steve slowly raised his arms to his shoulders. The whole crowd fell silent, with all eyes on Mr. Ignorant, before abruptly being startled back into a full rage as the band resumed the song. It was a must-see highlight of the festival for many No Values attendees, as evidenced by the fact that after the band finished, more than half the crowd headed for the door as opposed to staying for the already in-progress Misfits set. — RJ

The Misfits

No Values marked just the 20th show since the 2016 reunion of The Original Misfits — Glenn Danzig, Jerry Only, Doyle Wolfgang Von Frankenstein, Dave Lombardo and Acey Slade — whose set saw revelers of all ages adorned in the band’s iconic skull logo, passionately screaming back the lyrics in way too tightly packed pits. That The Original Misfits were booked to close a festival featuring so many pillars of punk rock speaks to their continued influence and rarity. Unfortunately, either the festival’s audio was low or the crowd was so loud that it was difficult to hear Danzig in the mix at times until walking much farther away from the stage, making for a disjointed final performance. Still, classics including “Where Eagles Dare,” “Teenagers from Mars,” and “Skulls” — which could be heard loud and clear from the parking lot for those trying to beat horrendous traffic on the way out — maintained their potency because the crowd kept the energy high all night. — NP



Source link

About The Author

Scroll to Top