by Dave Negative

My ride, Danny, scored us free tickets to this through KALX where he's a DJ, but was late picking me up from Fruitvale BART so I missed the opening band DEK completely. I wasn't too bent out of shape about it though. Four suburban teenagers dressed in ridiculous Partridge Family inspired clothes/costumes from the 70's playing "punk" songs about high school crushes, teenage boredom, "parents that just don't understand," and crappy B-movies like a second rate version of early Redd Kross?... Whatever.

Angel City OutcastsSo. Cal.'s Angel City Outcasts' combination of Eddie Van Halen inspired hard rock guitar theatrics, melodic street-(pop)-punk, andcountry-fried rockabilly didn't move me, or anyone else, very much at all. Vocalist Alex Brugge and lead guitarist "Tak" (aka. Artak Boroyan) repeatedly tried to win over the crowd with everything from dumb, greasy haired and tattooed tough-guy anecdotes about drinking, fighting, and "being on parole" to practically begging us into singing along to the choruses of "I'm An A.C.O.," "Never Hang Up Your Boots," "Outlaw Rock 'N Roll," "Let It Ride," and an infantile, post-9/11 jingoist fantasy involving Popeye (yes, the cartoon character) sailing to the Middle East to "Take down each and every man who tries to mess with this great land!" called "Popeye In Afghanistan." The band's cover of Motorhead's "Ace of Spades," however, was surprisingly good. Drawing a small number of us, desperate by that point to hear anything worth getting excited about, upfront for a brief fist-pumping group-shout.

After setting up their gear and doing a quick sound check behind the stage's mini-movie screen (where scenes of The Specials skankin' it up from Dance Craze: The Best of British Ska was shown to keep us occupied) The Briggs wasted no time with introductions. Charging to the edge of the stage with barking rant-chants over slashing riffs, the LaRocha brothers, Joey (vocals/rhythm guitar) and Jason (lead guitar),steered their bandmates through the '77 punk rock-spiked oi! of the band's Numbers debut ("Red Alert," "Media Control," "One Shot Down," "Bored Teenager," "3rd World War," etc.)and a cover of Cock Sparrer's "Runnin' Riot." For their encore they down-shifted into the dub reggae of "Top 40" from last year's Leaving The Ways EP, presumably to give everyone a chance to catch our breath, before kicking into the East Coast style hardcore of "All On Me"complete with a mid-song solo by nimble bassist Chris Curtis. Joey finishing the latter from inside the pit after jumping/dragged offstage into it and getting his Army jacket nearly torn apart in the process. Not bad at all.

A lot of people made a big stink about founding members Tony "Reflex" (aka. Tony Brandenburg) (aka. "Cadena," "Montana," etc.) (vocals), Steve Soto (bass), and Frank Agnew (rhythm guitar) reforming the Adolescents a couple years ago without legendary lead guitarist Rikk Agnew and drummer Casey Royer (longtime vocalist for D.I.). Although the absence of those two is definitely noticeable both creatively and in terms of showmanship, having Derek O'Brien from Social D's Mommy's Little Monster era lineup as Casey's replacement on drums, in my opinion, at least half-way makes up for it. The circle-pitchurnedroughly as they ripped into the seminal "Blue Album"'s jagged-smooth mix of caustic punk venom and canorous pop harmonies (except for the markedly absent "I Hate Children") - a veritable blueprint for early 80's LA/OC HC; a handful of new ones like "Hawks And Doves," "Lockdown America," and "Where The Children Play" off OC Confidential, their first release in seventeen years; the title track from Brats In Battalions, and a cover of The Stooges' "I Got A Right." Frank's stand-in due to his, according to Tony, "recovering from knee surgery" was fifteen year old guitar prodigy Joe Harrison from the band Wrecking Crew (named after the old Adolescents song), who was nothing short of amazing. The band flew this kid all the way out from LA for this show and he didn't miss a single note throughout their entire set.

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