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Joe Sib's funny, manic, often touching 'California Calling'

January 7, 2010 |  5:09 pm
Joesib A quick troll through Joe Sib's wallet won't turn up the usual accouterments of a dad in his 40s. He admits there's no Social Security card in there, no pictures from his wedding. But his ID from Winchester Skate Park when he was all of 13-ish? You just don't part with something like that.

That's not as wanly nostalgic as it seems. Sib is a California punk gadfly -- he fronted Wax, founded SideOneDummy Records and hosts "Complete Control," the bread-and-butter punk compendium on KYSR-FM (98.7). At his unlikely one-man stage show "California Calling" at Largo at the Coronet on Wednesday night, Sib's boundless  earnestness about the identity-shaping possibility of music charged his part-memoir, part-comedy, part-backyard-barbecue-yarn about what happens when the old days never quite go away.

"California Calling" isn't so much a performance as it is a solid hour to get comfortable and let Sib -- a coiled spring of joy when it comes to these topics -- riff on stream-of-consciousness tales of teenage n'er-do-welling. Say, the time his buddies parked some kid from the crowd at a house party in front of a wandering drum kit for an entire night, and the kid grew up to be Rancid's Lars Frederiksen. Or stalking Johnny Ramone for days in vain hopes of dressing up as the Ramones' last onstage Pinhead character at their final shows. Or a very funny extended slide show through his many atrocious punk haircuts ("I bleached my hair with these eyebrows?").

There's a sort of fading-California disappointment in some of the more personal turns, like when his long-suffering dad moved out of his family's Santa Cruz ranch and into a Super 8 Motel after his parents' divorce. But Sib seems chronically unable to be anything but optimistic -- he remembers the Super 8 as having an unfathomable amount of TV channels available. 

The abiding take from "California Calling" is that the rush of youthful discovery doesn't have to dissipate with adult life. With an audience full of his kids' classmates' parents, he was never more on than getting to the end of his stalking-Johnny-Ramone tale, where Eddie Vedder unexpectedly swooped in to steal his birthright spot to stand beside the band. "I loved them so much I had this made," he said, pulling out an 8-foot photograph of Johnny in low-slung guitar-face rapture. He didn't make it onstage that night, but at the bar afterward,  it came to him -- "I am the Pinhead."

Even if your skating days are well behind you, you'll probably leave "California Calling" feeling much the same way.

-- August Brown

Photo courtesy MSO PR