It's a Punk Party at No Values

I made it out to the punk rock Woodstock known as No Values Festival out at the Pomona Fairgrounds this Saturday. The traffic to get in was so hideous that I unfortunately missed seeing the current remnants of Black Flag, but I was in time to get there for one of my very favorite American punk rock bands, Agent Orange. I had a press pass to cover the show for Music Connection Magazine, but when I got to the photographers pit I was yelled at by an employee that I could not use my phone and that only professional cameras were allowed!

I did see in the press requirements that no iPhones were allowed, but I have an Android phone! I guess they lamely did not make clear that they meant to say cell phones and not iPhones! I managed to take a few shots of the band before I got yelled at too much. Sadly the sound was not great for the band, but they have some super strong compositions and I got to hear some of their great tunes like "No Such Thing' and they did a terrific rendition of the Dead Kennedys song "Police Truck"and Jello Biafra came out to sing!

Agent Orange has always been notable for combining surf rock riffs into their music, and, indeed, "Police Truck" is essentially the surf instrumental "Pipeline"with words! It was great to see Jello "come out "wearing a black leather police cap and sleeveless vest! 

Then it was time to scurry across the vast expanse of the Pomona fairgrounds to another stage where The Damned played an excellent set! Many of my friends had seen them the previous night in Hollywood and were raving about it! They had their original drummer Rat Scabies back with them and original members Captain Sensible and singer Dave Vanian.

They pulled out lots of classics like "Love Song" "Smash It Up"' complete with the psychedelic picking instrumental intro, and ended the set with their two primal UK punk chestnuts " Neat Neat Neat, and the brilliant "New Rose", which  Vanian introduced as" Here's a song that the Sex Pistols WISH they had written but WE did!" It was also relieving to finally be able to hear guitars clearly ( sorry Agent Orange stage)!

Then I scurried all the way back to the other end of the grounds to see an absolutely fantastic set by Chicagoans Jesus Lizard. At this stage I was not hassled about my phone camera. The band was amazingly tight and truly dynamic, and singer David Yow jumped into an adoring crowd after the second song! It was fun to see him scrambling back up onto the stage again right afterwards!

They have always reminded me musically of what it would sound like if you had a punk rock version of King Crimson's song "Red"coupled with a singer with Iggy antics, I saw them a bunch " back in the day"... Great renditions of "Mouth Breather ", "Nub"and "Then Comes Dudley", among many others. The singer, to everybody's delight went back into the crowd a second time and seemed to make it out alive yet again!

Once more I had to leave before the ending of the band's set to see the beginning of the next, which in this case was Bad Religion, who I've always wanted to see. And they were great! Super tight with great sound , and singer Greg Graffin looked like a graying middle-aged zoology professor with glasses, which, in fact he is! He joked about how Pomona audiences were not necessarily considered 'cool'  and said " Hey , I know how it is, WE'RE from Canoga Park...not that it's anything to brag about!"

It was really great to hear everybody in the crowd singing along with their song " Los Angeles Is Burning"! I've always really appreciated that so much of their material is so anthemic sounding. Nice version of "Supersonic," ,"Fuck You", and "New Dark Ages", and then I had to ONCE AGAIN completely go back across the 3 football field lengths distance to see beloved LA heroes L7.

 I've always been.a big fan of their music but in fact hadn't seen them in years, I think last time was at The Whiskey for their stellar "Beauty Process" record, although they've been reunited for the past decade! They completely embody rock and roll fun, with a healthy dose of social commentary. "We are proud to be some rare pussy on this stage!" wise- cracked guitarist Donita at this very male- performer event. In their ode to political apathy "Pretend We're Dead" after the line "

They're not the Moral nor Majority" she quickly added "They're assholes!" At one point Jennifer had some bass problems, and to her credit just danced for the minute or two it took the roadie to fix it. I actually stayed for their whole set, bailing on their last song, their ode to female badass-ery, "Fast And Frightening".

I made it again all the way back across the goddamn grounds to see Iggy Pop's new band launch into their first song " TV Eye". I've seen him with two different bands the past year, this was not the Duff McKagen-on-bass band of his last record but his band that includes a trumpet player and two guitarists (one female). Sadly she wasn't local hero Sarah Lipstate (aka Noveller) this time. Definitely a great band, and Iggy did an action - packed set, all killer and no filler.

The Igster looks so craggy these days, his scoliosis bending him into a sideways curve, his skin all leathery, but he BRINGS IT with every performance and his songs are legendary classics at this point. Very cool to hear" Death Trip", and he hadn't played his closer"1970" since Stooges guitarist Ron Asheton passed away in 2009. It's funny, his most successful songs live are his most basic and primal riffs, like "Down On The Street" and "Loose". Thank you Iggy, for rocking out wildly at age 77!

I finally had some time to eat before the last act, and caught some of the Viagra Boys across the way ( again,!), who I'd heard lots of good things about. They used some electronics but overall seemed a little too jokey for me,, maybe they're better on record.

I met a couple who'd come as far as Australia to see this festival,WOW! Overall the crowd skewed to middle - aged, but half of the attendees seemed pretty youthful, and of course most of the crowd were dressed in black, with lots of great punk T - shirts everywhere. Overall a pretty mellow and well - behaved crowd , despite the insane delayed entries and baking daytime  heat.

The headliners, The Misfits, were ironically the least organized band of the eve.They've all split  off and hated each other for years, so it was a big deal to get all of the original members back together, including vocalist Glenn Danzig. They've written some classic horror-rock tunes and had lots of people singing along but didn't seem to have put together a setlist before the show.

There were delays between most of the songs as they decided what to play and Danzig was not a very compelling frontman. And oddly, the cameras on the JumboTron video screens showed The Misfits from far away, whereas all the other bands had very closeup shots being projected! That said , we got plenty of classics from "Astro Zombies" to "Where Eagles Dare" to "Halloween" and played second to last , my personal fave " Twenty Eyes". 

And it only took us an hour to get out of the parking lot, instead of the 90 minutes to get in,ha!