wimps – The Soda Bar, San Diego -June 29, 2016

[photos by Happy Place Media

After guitarist Rachel Ratner announced they were going to play “a bunch of songs in a short amount of time”, wimps, a 3-piece punk band from Seattle,  launched into “Vampire,” a short, relentless blast of rock ‘n’ roll which as far as I can tell is about being a vampire (or not!). Continue reading

Tacocat – The Soda Bar, San Diego – July 20, 2016

With song titles like, “Men Explain Things to Me”, “FDP” (first day period) and “Hey Girl” (about dudes that cat-call), it’s clear that Tacocat, a 4-piece punk/pop/surf band from Seattle, are not writing songs for me (a 56-year-old man who still likes early Blue Oyster Cult).  But that doesn’t mean I can’t appreciate their surf-inspired melodies, clever lyrics and infectious energy.  Continue reading

wimps open for Katie Von Schleicher at the Soda Bar

I was 21 years old when MTV started back in 1981 and it was pretty awesome back then. Before that all we got was Don Kirshner’s Rock Concert and Burt Sugarman’s Midnight Special. Those were great shows but only filled 2.5 hours per week on Friday and Saturday nights. We all know that MTV doesn’t really do music videos anymore and the format went relatively dormant for a long time. Then YouTube, Vimeo, Vevo and others came along and music videos have once again become an important part of presenting and marketing a song.
That’s a lot of words to say that this song and video by wimps, a 3-piece punk rock band out of Seattle, is pretty fucking rad! Check out the video and then go see wimps play the Soda Bar Wednesday night when they open for Katie Von Schleicher...


Katie Von Schleicher, wimps + Gravyyard play the Soda Bar

I know everyone is wondering, “what show should I go to Wednesday night this week – there’s no one playing that I’ve heard of…”

The answer is easy – get to the Soda Bar to see Katie Von Schleicher,wimps and Gravyyard. This will be one of those shows that you can’t believe you saw at a venue like the Soda Bar (and don’t get me wrong – I LOVE the Soda Bar, but it is astonishing that bands like this, especially together, are playing such a small venue).

There – problem solved. See you there!!

In the meantime check out this video from Katie’s new album Bleakspoitation on Ba Da Bing! Records


The Creepy Creeps – Belly Up Tavern 4/19/16

The Belly Up crowd usually doesn’t start to really fill in the space until the headliners are getting ready to go on.  Not so on this night, as San Diego’s own garage/punk/surf-rockers, the Creepy Creeps, brought their demented brand of “dance numbers” to the Solana Beach venue as the warm up act for The Damned (look right below this post for a review of the Damned set).  And warm up the crowd they did – exhorting the crowd to dance and cut loose while they played with their usual reckless abandon.  Every time I see this band play they have a full dance floor in front of them and it doesn’t matter if they are the headliners or the 1st act on a 4 band bill – they bring everything they’ve got.

Check out this clip recorded at The Belly Up last summer: Creepy Creeps – Belly Up


The Damned – Belly Up Tavern San Diego 4/19/16

Damned 05

It is an interesting experience seeing The Damned live in 2016.  They are of course one of the original and seminal British punk bands – contemporaries of bands like The Sex Pistols and The Clash.  They even have the distinction of issuing the first punk single (“New Rose” in 1976) and LP (Damned Damned Damned in 1977).  Though they were never as political as the Clash, or as nihilistic as the Sex Pistols, The Damned still presented a view into the feelings, actions and musical appetite of the disaffected youth of the day.

Yet while the Sex Pistols self-destructed after just one album and an aborted US tour, and The Clash burned brightly but ran out of fuel by the mid-80’s, here we are in 2016 and The Damned are still going strong.  They are a different group now to be sure, though the creative team of David Vanian on vocals and Captain Sensible on guitar remain, their glory days of “New Rose,” “Smash it Up” and “Neat Neat Neat” are from a long ago era.  But that’s not really a bad thing, since along the way they actually became good musicians and learned how to write songs with a more varied sound and feeling.

That brings us to a sold out show at the Belly Up Tavern in Solana Beach.  The crowd arrived early and already had a buzzing energy after a great opening set by local garage/surf rockers the Creepy Creeps.  The Damned then hit the stage with the anthemic “Street of Dreams” off their 1985 album Phantasmagoria.  This sweeping song, with Vanian’s vocals giving it a cinematic scale, was the perfect opening number to show what the Damned have become.  By Phantasmagoria the Damned were a punk band that didn’t write punk songs anymore – though they could, and still do, still let it all hang out with punk rock fury when they play the older songs live, they had morphed into something bigger and grander and darker.

So that’s what we got all night during a 2 hour 18 minute set.  They played songs from throughout their carreer – from the pedal-to-the-metal  roar of “Love Song” off the classic 1979 album, Machine Gun Etiquette; to the unhinged attack of “Ignite” off the 1982 LP, Strawberries; to the goth rock majesty of “Amen” off the 2001 record, Grave Disorder (which marked the return of Captain Sensible after a 19 year absence).  And while the crowd was into it from the start, they would absolutely erupt when the band launched into one of its true classics like: “Love Song,” “Alone Again Or,” “Neat Neat Neat,” “New Rose,” and “Smash It Up”.  Throughout this 20 song set,the Damned, whose core members are all in their late 50’s to early 60’s, played with a passion and energy that shows no signs of slowing down.

Side Note- Captain Sensible gave a shout out to a local brewery (I think it was Stone) saying that when they used to tour the states they’d bring their own beer because ours was “shit”.  But now when they come over, it’s so good that they bring our beer back home with them!

I did not get any video from this show. Really, I think the Belly Up is the worst venue in town when it is sold out and I couldn’t get a good angle from where I was.  So here are a few other videos from that show (my thanks to the photographers):

Disco Man     Neat Neat Neat     Amen     New Rose     Smash It Up



The Heartaches – The Casbah, San Diego – March 14, 2016


Tonight was a reverse order concert for me as I came to see the first group up, the debut of Creepseed.  My plan was to stay and watch a couple songs by the second group, San Diego’s The Heartaches, and then take off unless they were really good. All I can say is that by the time they got to the chorus of their first song, I knew I wasn’t going anywhere during this set!

Somehow I had never heard of this band of garagey punk rockers who have been around since 2002. Apparently I need to pay better attention to what’s going on, since The Heartaches put on a blistering set full of massive riffs, shouted choruses, endless energy and just enough melody to attract more than just a punk audience.  The Heartaches seem like a real throwback group as I could hear influences from throughout punk’s early history – from the early days of The Damned and The Clash overseas to The Ramones and Dead Kennedys on this side of the pond.  All of it delivered with a ferocious attack on dual guitars, bass and drums and fronted by a singer with enough energy to power The Casbah’s sound system on his own.

Don’t make the mistake I did – check out The Heartaches – and for god’s sake, don’t look at your cell phone while they’re playing!!

Here’s a video from the show (don’t know the name of the song)