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Horror Business: The Original Misfits, Iggy Pop, Social Distortion, Bad Religion, Sublime, The Damned @ No Values, Pomona Fairgrounds, 6/8/24

dev@hard
July 3, 2024
9
0

“Too much horror businessDriving late at nightPsycho 78My bathroom is newYou, you don’t go in the bathroom with mePsycho 7812 o’clock, don’t be lateAll this horror businessMy mirrors are blackYou don’t go in the bathroom with meWith youI’ll put a knife right in youI’m warning you” “Murder Business”, The Misfits  Live music.  It is something I have dreamed about, participated in, studied, and admired over the course of my life. In a perpetually changing world, there is something ‘evergreen’ about live music; the bell & whistles around it, the spaces, the faces, the technology may change… but at it’s core, live music is one of the more primal, visceral experiences we have left on this planet. People buy tickets->People gather->People play->People go home. It’s predictable…it’s exciting…it’s a distraction from your life. These are the promises of live music.  Perhaps that’s why the business of live music is booming. Those that can barely scrape together money for life’s basic necessities, are somehow scrimping and saving to buy that increasingly expensive concert ticket. Artists, whose revenue streams are drying up faster than the Colorado River, are increasingly out ‘on the road’, one of the last frontiers for getting paid for their art alongside slanging a shirt or two at the merch booth.  Everyone from Gen A to Boomers claim live music improves their mental health, and this pairs nicely alongside the social media fodder that live music has become. An artist staring out into a crowd and a sea of phones stare back. The more things change, the more they stay the same…  The Festival.  While showing signs of cracks in the foundation, festivals have enjoyed a renaissance the past 10 or so years, if not for true cultural cache as for viral moments and brand activations.  So evocative were Monterey Pop and Woodstock, onto the US Festival and Lollapalooza, to current days’ Coachellas and Bonaroos. They were rites of passage, so important that simply being able to say “I was there” can grant one a ‘cool pass’, if at the very least be one of the Most Memorable Moments of a person’s life. The way that a music festival can help convey the sentiment, personality, and preferences of the decade it is no wonder that they are historically fodder for documentaries about certain eras. The music festival is a sacred thing.  So how the fuck did No Values Fest get it so wrong?    Somewhere into the second hour of sitting in traffic trying to get into the Pomona Fairplex, I was questioning all my life choices. But wait! It got worse…once we made it to our instructed lot, the attendant lackadaisically said “No VIP parking here, you have to go to another lot”. No apology, no sympathy, no emotion at all. It was punk as fuck! Meanwhile my head was exploding and I could hear wafting through the air the chaotic chords of “Destro’s Secret” as Dillinger Escape Plan took the stage with their original singer for the first time in… a long time. I am so pissed off about missing that set I’m not even gonna look it up.  Another 40-min to turn around, find another lot, and be denied VIP again and sent to park way back in general parking, which required a literally hike to get to the entrance. AND THEN, while getting into the fest itself wasn’t a huge line, the VIP ‘perks’ were pretty silly. For paying that much more for tickets, there is an EXPECTATION set… and knowing what I know in my line of work (consumer research and UX) I began to get the sense that someone in the powers that be of this festival had run numbers, cut funds to certain things and staff for parking, and said “FUCK THOSE STUPID PUNKS!”.

 

Who the fuck is going to wear an ‘I <3 Pomona’ pin?!

AND THEN there was security… or the lack thereof… which normally I wouldn’t complain about but this is a festival and People These Days are insane. Go on social media and look at r/novaluesfestival and read all of the shit people got in due to this. Good for them, but it was just another Wild West element to this shit show of a festival. So after walking in and finding where the main stages were, I could see smoke billowing and just knew I had missed something iconic (Ben Hendrix’ed his guitar). Literally the last notes were playing as the stage came into view.  For those saying “plan better”… there is no way I could have planned for the rigamarole clusterfuck of a mess getting into this festival was, and I’m not 18 and able to spend an entire day in the hot sun. And why are you sticking up for an organization that royally fucked up in the name of their bottom line?

Fun old pic of the aftermath of my first DEP show. Left the timestamp for PROOF. Left a nice scar.

We find the VIP area and realize… this isn’t exactly what we envisioned. It’s huge, there are SO many people, little shade as advertised, and the bathrooms aren’t much better than the general area. In fact, it just felt gross… an emblem of corporate greed where festival goers were separated by class- those who could pay more and those who could not… or, come to find out, weren’t ballsy enough to just walk into VIP without VIP wristbands since security WASN’T EVEN CHECKING!

OK, so it wasn’t all bad. Most concerts & festivals have come a looooonnnngg way in providing food & drink options. I mean, the individual vendors tents were so numerous it could have been mistaken as a food & drink festival that happened to have music. Bless those of you who wanted sushi at a punk festival in 90-degree heat.

And the people-watching was glorious. Really- chef’s kiss on this element.  I love it when people get dressed for the show.  It was like your high school punk’s locker & Trapper Keeper come to life.  From a Plasmatics battle vest, to another one that was freakin’ Labyrinth themed ‘(“The Babe With The Power“) to all sorts of attire and body mods and hair that looked like flash cards given to a new teacher advising them who to likely expel.  I wish I had taken pics but 1) creepy 2) I was too pissed off!

So, about the music…

As with any festival, you had to make some decisions and the stages were quite far apart. I’m old, and I don’t go to a TON of festivals, but I remember the days when the main stages had side by sides, and they switched off sides to limit time between sets and you didn’t have to move around that much. Those were the days! This layout had the potential to turn into a true marathon; it was apparently a nightmare for any ADA attendees, which is a shame.

We ended up shuttling back and forth between the two main stages, and not leaving to trek to a smaller one, except for one point where we were snuck backstage for a hot second, and then kicked out for not having the right credentials, because no one knows WHO I AM anymore since I went into hiding in the desert years ago.

Anyway, we watched most of The Damned trying to find the perfect slice of shade. They have aged well since I saw them back at Slim’s SF in 2008. 20 minutes into the set and they had barely played any songs I recognized, and I had finished my drink and my brain was melting. Back to a drink line…

Next up, Suicidal Tendencies.  Now, I had seen them a couple years ago at Psycho Las Vegas, which I have to say was infinitely better than this crock of shit. I am not an ST fan- my husband is though- and I have to say that seeing ST on essentially their home turf was great. And yes, DEP’s guitarist also plays in ST as does Rob Trujillo of Metallica’s son, who looks like a child up there, because I am now old. But on the outside looking in, it is endearing to see this community singing along to the lyrics, especially a sea of men who don’t look like the ‘singing along with the song’ type.

And then, I did watch a bit of Sublime, because I’m a ’90s kid and that self-titled album was Standard Issue in my Big Binder of CDs, because I was a true MTV kid who had that nestled against Nine Inch Nails and The Doors and Garth Brooks. Yes, I know it’s the son of the dead singer performing now… but it was fun and this was the point where things turned a bit in the crowd and everyone took on a shade of pinkish red on their burning skin, and toxicity levels started to reach Maximum Impact.

Then, in one of the biggest regrets of my recent life, I watched a bit of Bad Religion. I hate this band. It made me physically ill and I had to go lie down in the grass. This is an area of punk that makes me want to shove people in lockers because Goths > Heshers > Punks sometimes in my book. STOP TELLING ME HOW TO LIVE MY LIFE!!! Why is someone’s dad onstage? These were the thoughts going through my head. But- my husbands enjoys it so this is that part of marriage where they talk about ‘compromise’. This was also when I noticed that the screens on the sides of the stage between sets flashed messages like “IF YOU SEE SOMETHING, SAY SOMETHING” amongst other threats and ‘advisements’. Was I at an airport?! Why all of the commands, isn’t this supposed to be fun?!

But next would be The Only Redeeming Thing about No Values… Iggy Pop! I’ve seen Iggy five times I think, and each time is great in its own way, but this time will be important because it saved my sanity that day. After seeing him last year as Iggy & The Losers, this was a different band, featuring Nick Zenner from the Yeah Yeah Yeah’s on guitar and with a BRASS SECTION, which was amazing! I don’t think I’ve ever seen him with horns. In fact, many of the sets that day had a FULL band, which was a nice change of pace.  This set was incredible. There were many bands that day that you may find yourself thinking ‘maybe this is the last time‘ but as the ‘Godfather of Punk’, his presence was so important at this festival if not just proof to myself that I am still alive and not just a person that works a job these days. Not only is Iggy Pop an iconoclast of his time, but also to humanity… who woulda thunk he would still be busting a move onstage here is 2024? I was happy to see droves of people going crazy; some that I overheard saying they were there purely out of curiosity and unfamiliar with him. That is the point of festivals, really: exposure. How many times have I sat through a set by some band I’d never heard of… or had heard they were good… or knew a bit of the lore, only to become a fan in that moment? Certainly lots grace these pages. It’s low stakes in a festival environment; you’ve got to fill the time somehow, and why not?

This set was also magnificent because of the setlist… look at this (stolen from Louder):

TV Eye
Raw Power
I Got A Right – (last played in 2003)
Gimme Danger
The Passenger
Lust For Life
Death Trip
Loose
I Wanna Be Your Dog
Search And Destroy
Down On The Street
1970  – (last played in 1989)

Whenever you are a fan, and you get to be at a set that has not one but two “last played…”, congratulations: you have arrived a Peak Fan Moment. Key moments were crying during “Gimme Danger” (I have a tattoo) and feeling elated for the man brought on stage to sing along with Iggy for “Lust For Life” and he knew all the words!

“Well, I’m just a modern guyOf course, I’ve had it in my ear before‘Cause of a lust for life‘Cause of a lust for life”

We can’t hear that song without thinking of Trainspotting. Now did that movie scare you away from heroin, or make you want to do it? Discuss amongst yourselves.

Also “Down On The Street” makes me think of Season 3, Episode 1 of Eastbound and Down – one of the best shows (and maybe seasons) of all time (I also have a tattoo, “La Flama Blanca“)

Anyway, it was a magical set that truly felt like a special festival treat, as these sets should.

Next up: Social Distortion. I saw Social D for the first time a few years ago in Detroit back when I stopped writing about shows. This is another of my husband’s bands… I cannot deal but it was super fun to watch the crowd. Lead singer, Mike Ness, has been through a throat cancer battle, and it is pretty amazing that he is back at it. However, of all the sets the sound on this one was total dogshit. I mean sometimes it was so quiet it felt like the sound guy had fallen asleep. I know a lot about Social D for someone who doesn’t listen to them because one of my husband’s North Stars is Mike Ness. Have you ever seen the documentary Another State of Mind? It is wonderful.

 

Headlining the event was The Misfits. I would normally be more excited about this, but we started to have PTSD about getting out of this venue hard. We left to watch a few songs from the general area… enough to catch Danzig’s polarizing “PLANDEMIC” quote (I laughed). The last time I saw Danzig play Misfits songs it was the last rock show at the Gibson Amphitheater. It was legendary. This should have been legendary, but droves up people were leaving due to issues with their sound, issues with Danzig’s remark, and issues with parking. We tramped out of there to the sounds of “Some Kinda Hate”, which was fitting for what was to come.

We sat in a deadlock in the parking lot for close to 3 hours barely moving. People were yelling, peeing, sleeping… it was atrocious. I will never go back to that venue, or that festival, again.

“There’s some kinda loveAnd there is some kinda hateI’m gonna tell you all about it now”

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