The Bang Show! The Observatory, Costa Mesa, CA

By David Meekma

The summer heat wave broke just in time for last Saturday’s Bang Show in Costa Mesa. Nothing like seeing an all-day punk rock festival, especially when it’s not 90+ degrees outside!

The Bang Show! A celebration of Punk Music, Art, Food, Beer and Camaraderie held 20140920_220450both inside and outside of the Observatory, in Costa Mesa.

Twenty plus bands were featured on three stages including The Alvins, Jr. Brown, Los Lobos and The Buzzcocks. The legendary band X headlined the gig.

As The Buzzcocks performed, I thought back to when they first came out.   I was twelve years old the first time I ever heard The Buzzcocks, and only the weird kids listened to that kind of music in the 70’s. Little did I know, six years later, after going off to college, I was to become one of those weird kids.

Listening to them now, as an adult (mostly), it’s very hard to explain why the music was so controversial back then. It wasn’t nearly as abrasive as one might think, nor were the lyrics so provocative, either. Perhaps it was the unpredictability of the artists that freaked everybody out.Buzzcocks 1 Final bw Sm.

As I’m watching the show and checking out the multi-generational punk fans in the audience, a giant smile crosses my face. I realized I’m part of the first generation of parents whose kids don’t HATE our music. Seeing kids walking around wearing a Germs t-shirt and dancing in a crowd of fifty-somethings, including their OWN parents, was pretty cool.

The Observatory in Costa Mesa is one of my favorite concert venues anywhere, much less Orange County. Seeing the place transformed into an outdoor venue with vendor booths for food, t-shirts, art and even an old school barber made me chuckle to myself…if only the rest of Orange County knew what was going on here!

The musicians throughout the day were fantastic. The main stage was set up outside and the two stages inside the venue were the side stages.

The younger bands held the torch for we old schoolers, and the older acts proved that age has nothing to do with coolness or the ability to still play aggressively and with a purpose.

Alvins 2 8x10The Buzzcocks rocked an exceptionally tight and coherent set filled with their classics. These guys showed everyone where punk came from and proved that they were still around. The crowd raged as they kicked into “Ever Fallen in Love” and everything came together on stage. A truly fun and remarkable scene.

X was the headliner on the outside stage, and I was totally looking forward to their performance. John Doe is one of the coolest dudes in music, and they never disappoint as a live band. Exene Cervenka’s voice was crystal clear and the harmonizing with John Doe was spot on.

For this show, they toned it down a bit and played an almost acoustic set. The energy of the performance was exceptionally high; despite turning down the volume. Obviously, it’s not just about playing fast and loud. The lyrics, emotions and energy come through no matter how low key you want to play it.

Driving home that night, I reflected on the day. Cool music, cool people and cool venue can turn even the most conservative Orange County person into a good old school punk!

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