Category: Punk rock

Bad Religion in lineup for March 24 Reason Rally in Washington, D.C.

Bad Religion to play Reason Rally on March 24 in Washington DC
It’s only logical that veteran L.A. punk band Bad Religion would be chosen as the musical headliner for Saturday’s Reason Rally in Washington, D.C., an event being billed as “the largest secular event in world history.”

Bad Religion has long railed in its music against superstition, prejudice and the kind of divisive factionalism that’s deeply entrenched in the American political system. When he’s not touring or recording with the long-running punk group, lead singer Greg Graffin, author of the book “Anarchy Evolution: Faith, Science, and Bad Religion in a World Without God,” lectures on evolution at Cornell University, where he received a PhD in zoology.

“We thought it was a good gathering of people who want to stress that reason should characterize the citizenry of this country, not affiliation with some religious group or socioeconomic stratum or any other criterion besides the willingness to engage in reasonable debate that is informed by rational knowledge,” Graffin said in a statement issued Wednesday. “All I’ve ever heard from fans (and that includes parents and their kids alike) is that they have been inspired to learn more and care more by listening to our music. I think, therefore, that the Reason Rally — like Bad Religion — can be very inspirational.”

The band will appear with comedians Eddie Izzard and Tim Minchin, comedian-talk-show host Bill Maher, author Richard Dawkins, “MythBusters” co-host Adam Savage and other speakers during the daylong gathering at the National Mall. The mission, as outlined on the Reason Rally website, is “to unify, energize, and embolden secular people nationwide, while dispelling the negative opinions held by so much of American society… and having a damn good time doing it!”

The rally is being sponsored by a coalition of more than a dozen secular organizations, including the United Coalition of Reason, the Secular Student Alliance, the Society for Humanistic Judaism, the Freedom From Religion Foundation and the National Atheist Party.


Bad Religion keeps faith with punk rock

Bad Religion's Greg Graffin: Teacher's little monster

Bad Religion's Greg Graffin to teach evolution at Cornell in the fall

-- Randy Lewis

Photo:  Bad Religion in 2010, from left, Jay Bentley (seated), Brooks Wackerman, Greg Hetson, Brian Baker, Brett Gurewitz (seated) and Greg Graffin. Credit: Rick Loomis / Los Angeles Times.

L.A.'s '80s punk scene part of photo exhibit at Morono Kiang Gallery

Ann Summa photo of LA punk rocker in 1984
A new photo exhibition in downtown L.A. should hold special interest for Southland music fans, as it includes images from the region’s wild and woolly punk rock scene of the early 1980s.

Among works being featured in “Faraway So Close: Photographs of Los Angeles in the '80s” at the Morono Kiang Gallery are shots by Edward Colver, who captured virtually all of the great bands in the first wave of punk rock that swept through town at the time. One of the shots he'll have on display shows dozens of motorcycle police officers stationed outside a Hollywood Boulevard movie theater for the 1981 premiere of Penelope Spheeris' documentary "The Decline of Western Civilization."

Another photographer whose images will be shown is Ann Summa, who also spent considerable time among the punk community, although she told Pop & Hiss that the four shots she plans to have on display, taken with her Widelux camera, focus on other aspects of L.A. life in the '80s.

Here's what she has to say about the image above, titled "The Tourists, Hollywood, 1984," which she shot on Hollywood Boulevard near Selma Avenue:

"As a Nikon devotee, working with the Widelux, a Japanese spy camera, brought a certain liberation. It wasn’t in your face punk rock photography, but the opposite: fly-on-the- wall, catching a 180-degree image. The nature of the camera changed the nature of my work. It was quiet, it was a range finder; it had a set focus and only four f-stops and three shutter speeds. The lens moved. The subjects never knew what hit them."

The punk rock kid in that shot, James Creamer, now works as an electrician in Orange County, Summa said.

Beyond the indigenous L.A. music scene material from Colver and Summa, photographer Willie Robert Middlebrook will be displaying his large prints of reggae giant Bob Marley on a 1981 visit to Watts.

Photos by Mark Vallens and Shervin Shahbazi will be more political in nature, Summa said, and additional photos from Sara Jane Boyers, May Sun and Richard Wyatt will round out the show, which runs through March 31.

The photographers will be on hand for a panel discussion on from 3 to 5 p.m. The gallery is in the Bradbury Building at 218 W. 3rd St. Information: (213) 628-8208 or


Bad Religion keeps faith with punk rock

Punk rock and media art collide in MOCA program

Goldenvoice celebrates 30 years with punk rock festival GV30

-- Randy Lewis

Photo of "The Tourists, Hollywood, 1984." Credit: Ann Summa.

A revealing look at fame from Fall Out Boy's Patrick Stump

Patrick Stump
What becomes of a former rock star? Fall Out Boy vocalist Patrick Stump last week offered a warts-and-all look at his life since his famous pop-punk band went on a hiatus, writing, "it’s as though I’ve received some big cosmic sign that says I should disappear." The artist in 2011 released the well-received but commercially ignored "Soul Punk," an album of vintage, '80s-inspired pop. 

Pop & Hiss is late to Stump's pouring of his heart, but reasoned that it was worth mentioning as suggested reading, as seldom do artists, even in this social-networking-obsessed age, offer such a revealing look at the effects of success. Fall Out Boy was always a band that took a direct approach with its fans, albeit one that was largely accompanied by a wink.

Promotion for the act's 2008 album, "Folie à Deux," was delivered with a mix of self-referentialism and self-depreciation. The video for "This Ain't a Scene, It's an Arms Race," for instance, made a tabloid mockery of the band's history, just one example of the band beating critics to the punch and obscuring the line between art and artist. 

Yet did such openness create a too-close-for-comfort relationship with his fan base?

Continue reading »

Thursday at MOCA: Rare L.A. punk films take center stage

The title of tonight's screening at the Museum of Contemporary Art in downtown Los Angeles says it all: "Strange Notes and Nervous Breakdowns: Punk and Media Art, 1974-1981." The program features 20 rarely screened films, clips, videos and other media documenting the birth of punk culture in Los Angeles.

Shown in conjunction with MOCA's mindblowing "Under the Big Black Sun" exhibit at the museum's Geffen campus (which features a huge installment of Raymond Pettibon's early Black Flag fliers in the same room with Gary Panter's iconic work), "Strange Notes" promises to reveal seldom-seen nooks and crannies of the city's rock scene.

Writer Jamie Wetherbe spoke with the curator of tonight's screening, Adam Hyman, executive director of the Los Angeles Filmforum, for a feature in today's Times. Wetherbe on some of Thursday's offerings:

UCLA students in the '70s and early '80s captured bands on campus and in clubs, including Eugene Timiraos' 1979 video of the X song "I'm Coming Over," shot for experimental filmmaker Shirley Clarke's course. Classmate Bradley Friedman directed an 11½-minute video of the Screamers in 1981 performing "Eva Braun," a synth-punk song named for Hitler's mistress, in front of TV monitors. He also shot the stern and synthesized Anti-Sex League in 1980 playing a song with an unpublishable title enhanced with blurred-out images from a porn film.

"It directly related to the name of the band and the lyrics of the song and the performance, and the video was a response to a perceptions of sexual restrictions at the time," says Hyman. "Filmmakers were [manipulating video] to add to the music or add political commentary with the alternative imagery they were bringing." 

Also featured at the screening, writes Wetherbe: " 'Never Mind the Sex Pistols, Here's the Bullocks,' a 30-minute black-and-white capsule shot mostly in 1977 documenting performances by the Avengers, the Bags, the Dead Boys, the Screamers and the Weirdos. There are also clips from the early 1980s cable access show 'New Wave Theater' featuring Black Flag and performance artist Johanna Went, known for wild, transgressive works involving elaborate costumes, punk music and often lots of fake blood."

Thursday's 7 p.m. screening is open to the public, though an RSVP is required. See below for details.


Art review: 'Under the Big Black Sun' at MOCA

Punk rock and media collide in 'Strange Notes'

Nixon, Ford offer context for 1970s California art at MOCA

-- Randall Roberts

"Strange Notes and Nervous Breakdowns: Punk and Media Art, 1974-1981"
Where: MOCA Ahmanson Theater, MOCA, 250 S. Grand Ave., Los Angeles
When: 7 p.m. Thursday
Price: Free, reservation required
Info: (213) 621-1736,  

Photo: Installation view of "Under The Big Black Sun: California Art 1974-1981" at the Geffen Contemporary at MOCA. Credit: Brian Forrest / MOCA.



Live review: X, Social Distortion at GV30

The Southland punk bands help Goldenvoice celebrate its 30th anniversary in a vibrant, nostalgic show at the Santa Monica Civic Auditorium.

Concertgoers entering the Santa Monica Civic Auditorium on Friday night for a performance by Social Distortion and X had to weave through a maze of crowd-control barriers that led at least one ticketholder to ask, "Is there cheese at the end?"

When the Los Angeles concert-promotions firm Goldenvoice started staging punk shows three decades ago, such rat-race formalities might’ve carried a whiff of the Establishment. But as Goldenvoice marked its 30th year in business with a weekend-long festival called GV30, the proceedings reflected a newly grown-up mind-set.

In addition to Friday’s bill (which also featured the Adolescents), the celebration included shows Saturday and Sunday with Bad Religion, the Descendents and other veterans of Southern California’s vibrant punk scene.

That once-underground movement -- fired by a do-it-yourself attitude and a prideful anti-careerism -- was the original province of Goldenvoice founder Gary Tovar, who presented his first event under the company’s name in December 1981 at Santa Barbara’s La Casa de le Raza. (T.S.O.L. headlined, as we were reminded Friday by a grainy VHS clip projected onstage before X’s set; vintage fliers flashed by later advertising early gigs by Megadeth and the Red Hot Chili Peppers.)

Continue reading »

Dinosaur Jr. reissuing its first three albums as 'Cassette Trilogy'

Dinosaur Jr Dinosaur Jr
Could there be a more fittingly named champion of the nascent revival of the audiocassette tape than the Amherst, Mass., indie rock group Dinosaur Jr.?

On the heels of the quick sellout earlier this year of the cassette reissue of the trio’s 1988 album “Bug,” Dinosaur Jr. is reissuing its first three albums in a limited-edition "Cassette Trilogy" package housed in a wooden box. It will be available for $39 through Joyful Noise Recordings' website beginning Dec. 13.

The band’s 1985 debut album, “Dinosaur,” and its sophomore effort, “You’re Living All Over Me” (1987),  will join “Bug” in the new set, which will be limited to 500 copies, the strategy a growing number of musicians are carrying out in the production on cassette tape, a term that coincidentally was dropped from the Oxford Dictionary earlier this year because editors deemed it antiquated.

The Joyful Noise also offers cassette versions of albums  from such acts as Of Montreal, Deerhoof, Marmoset and Joan of Arc.

The Dinosaur Jr. cassettes, it is noted in the press release, will be high-quality chrome tape. No word, however, whether they’ll use Dolby B, Dolby C or dbx noise-reduction systems, all of which also seem ripe fodder for the ancient audio format revivalists.

Dinosaur Jr. will come through the Southland on tour next month for performances in which the band will play “Bug” in its entirety. The local stops include a Dec. 12 date at the Segerstrom Center for the Arts in Costa Mesa, the Belly Up Tavern in Solana Beach on Dec. 13 and the Music Box in Hollywood on Dec. 14.


A sonic rewind

Reunited Dinosaur Jr roars back from near extinction

Oxford Dictionary removes 'cassette tape,' gets sound lashing from audiophiles

-- Randy Lewis

Photo of Dinosaur Jr.'s "Cassette Trilogy." Courtesy of Joyful Noise Recordings.

Wild Flag to assert itself at Troubadour

The band, which has Sleater-Kinney roots, has produced an album capturing the passion of the riot grrrl era.

Wild Flag at Spaceland in 2010

Wild Flag was unveiled in a pall of mystery in the fall of 2010. Little was known other than the fact that the band was anchored by two-thirds of the rock offensive that was Sleater-Kinney, an Olympia, Wash.-bred group that hailed from the thriving '90s indie scene of the Pacific Northwest. The all-female group split in 2006, but not before defining the riot grrrl movement and providing an alternative to the male-dominated grunge scene.

Wild Flag's birth was announced sans music, and with a short news release that compared the group to the sound of an avalanche pummeling a dolphin. The ambiguity, however, wasn't for long. Their self-titled album, released in September, is loud, assertive and lean. Its 10 tracks capture the unrestrained passion of the riot grrrl era, but do so with a mix of grown-up levity and confidence. 

“We needed a no-frills, direct, energetic feel,” said Janet Weiss, the rhythmic stronghold in Sleater-Kinney and now Wild Flag. Her band begins a two-night stay at the Troubadour on Wednesday. “We needed a record that jumped off the vinyl and jumped off your speakers. It's very clear what's happening. You can hear everyone playing, and there's not much that's buried. This is bold.”

In the track “Racehorse,” vocalist-guitarist Carrie Brownstein — Weiss' Sleater-Kinney partner, star of IFC's “Portlandia” and ex-National Public Radio blogger — snarls, “What you don't know is me.” The sludgy, adrenaline-building groovy punk stomper clocks in at nearly seven minutes. Throughout, Rebecca Cole's vintage organ serves as a bass, and guitar wrecker Mary Timony delivers garage-rock psychedelics.

Continue reading »

Johnny Ramone tribute set for Saturday at Hollywood Forever

The Ramones 1988 
It’s time again for the annual Johnny Ramone Tribute Concert, in which fans of one of the original punk rockers will gather at — where else? — the Hollywood Forever Cemetery on Saturday to celebrate his life and pop-culture legacy.

This year’s show — the seventh since the Ramones guitarist, born John Cummings, died of cancer in 2004 — brings venerable New Jersey punk group the Misfits and latter-day punk band JuiceheaD to perform during the evening’s festivities. Visitors will be led to the cemetery's 8-foot statue of Ramone, and to the grave marker for his band mate Dee Dee Ramone, who died in 2002.

The band’s only surviving original member, drummer Tommy Ramone, also is slated to be on hand for the event that also will include screenings of vintage footage of the Ramones playing live along with a showing of the 1959 Ed Wood camp sci-fi classic “Plan 9 From Outer Space.” The doors open at 5:30 p.m., and tickets are $10. Complete information is available at


Johnny Ramone, 55: Punk Guitar Drove the Ramones

Joey Ramone, punk rock legend, died 10 years ago today

'I Slept With Joey Ramone: A Family Memoir' by Mickey Leigh with Legs McNeil 

-- Randy Lewis

Photo of the Ramones in 1998 (l-r): Johnny, Marky, Joey and Dee Dee Ramone. Credit: Monte Melnick. 

Iggy & the Stooges shift Wednesday gig to December

Iggy & the Stooges have rescheduled its Wednesday gig for December.

Iggy & the Stooges have rebooked their canceled Wednesday night Hollywood Palladium gig for Dec. 1, the singer's hobbled foot having pushed what promised to be a night of rock 'n' roll mayhem into the holiday season. Tickets for Wednesday's show will be honored, or refunds are available at the point of purchase. The venue stays the same.

Opening for Iggy & the Stooges was to have been Mexico-via-Los Angeles punk trio Le Butcherettes, led by the fiery lead vocalist Terri Gender Bender Suaréz. Like Pop, she's a force that demands attention, wielding her voice to shade, yell or toy with the groove.

Sadly, a spokeswoman for promoter Live Nation says support for the December gig is "now TBA." However, Le Butcherettes currently do not have a publicly announced gig on the docket for Dec. 1.

The cancellation stems from a foot injury Pop got at an Aug. 27 gig in Romania. Pop sustained a pair of fractures, and a statement from the group said the singer would be sidelined for six to eight weeks. Tickets for the December concert are on sale now, and come to $53.35 with added service fees.


Iggy Pop: From a howl to a croon

Le Butcherettes let it all out in Chicago

Le Butcherettes’ Teri 'Gender Bender' Suaréz dares you

-- Todd Martens

Photo: Mike Stocker / For The Times

Album review: The Rapture's 'In the Grace of Your Love'

The Rapture's 'In the Grace of Your Love'

Pity the record store clerk who accidentally files the Rapture’s “In the Grace of Your Love” in the Christian devotional section. The New York dance-punk acolytes (now a trio, minus the excellent bassist Matt Safer) soundtracked some of the most decadent nights out of the early aughts with cowbell-clanging singles that were so much fun, one might have missed how tight and ambitious this project was. After its sadly slept-on 2006 album “Pieces of the People We Love,” the band is back to its old label (DFA) but moving on to a genuinely uplifting revamp of its sound.

Though the band will forever be defined by the knife wound guitars of “House of Jealous Lovers,” the besotted rave synths of “Sail Away” and classic house jitters of “Come Back to Me” suggest this band was paying attention to first-generation club music long before it was a pop prerequisite.

Lead single “How Deep Is Your Love?” is the best piano-driven floor filler since their DFA label boss James Murphy’s LCD Soundsystem cut “All My Friends,” and singer-guitarist Luke Jenner kills his soul-man turn on “Miss You,” which digs into straight Motown (ironically, the label the band left for this album). One of the toughest tricks for a band to pull off is to stay relevant after singlehandedly igniting a popular sound. But this album might actually be a devotional record of sorts — to downtown New York’s musical DNA, and to the idea that dancefloor hedonism can be its own kind of grace.


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-- August Brown

The Rapture

“In the Grace of Your Love”


Three stars (out of four)


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