I arrived at the Fonda on the early side on Saturday for the punk rock show. It’s not everyday that GBH and the Adolescents play a show in Los Angeles. Plus, local, San Fernando Valley skacore band The 5th Wave was opening and I was curious to see how they would fill up that stage after seeing them at a couple great back yard parties.
The night immediately started with a challenge as I realized the media ticket secured for me was in the balcony section. No self respecting punk would accept watching the evenings festivities from afar so the cat and mouse with security started and I ended up on the floor for the 5th Wave and the Adolescents until reinforcements arrived. Thanks to Corinna and Gary Tovar for the eventual all access love.
It was entertaining to witness the excitement of 5th Wave bass player, Bryan Quinta in the weeks preceding the show. Since his announcement that they had been hand picked by GBH to open for them in L.A., he was like a little kid in his displays of unadulterated exuberance on Facebook. When the curtain went up they appeared to be a bit shell shocked by the view of the venue from the stage but quickly shook it off and delivered a blistering set. They had a great turnout of their core fans that seem to follow them wherever they go. There’s a great scene happening now in the San Fernando Valley that is filled with loyal and rabid fans and they certainly wweren’tgoing to miss their hometown heroes in their biggest moment.
By the time the Adolescents took the stage, it felt like it was 127 degrees inside the Fonda Theater but the heat didn’t slow anyone down on the floor once the Adolescents dug into their set. The pit was on fire all night and the Adolescents fanned the flames. You never really know who will be playing in the band outside of founding members Steve Soto and Tony Cadena but they sounded really good. There were no Agnews in the lineup but their presence was felt when the band unleashed “Kids of the Black Hole” on a dripping wet audience towards the end of their time on stage. It’s easy to rate how good a punk show is by how bad it smells inside the venue and let’s just say that this was an amazing show filled with ripe gutter punks.
Gutter punks smell bad enough without adding heat and adrenaline to the mix but then you add a live gig by GBH and squats all over L.A. must’ve had a mass exodus of residents that probably panhandled for weeks to get access to this show. And for good reason. British hardcore punk band, GBH never disappoint. Somehow, they are able to channel the same angst, tension and fury they have always displayed since the release of City Baby Attacked by Rats in 1982. 32 years and 11 albums later, their live shows remain completely believable. Plus, Colin Abrahall still has a lovely head of hair and great energy on stage. Seeing all the young punks singing lyrics word for word shows how well GBH has stood the test of time.
This is one of the best punk shows I’ve seen in a long time. I’ve been complaining about how my city has forgotten how to act at live shows lately. That’s one thing I never really experience at punk shows though. A special shout out to the Fonda Theatre. Surprisingly, this is one of the best places in town to see a bigger punk rock show. The security never beats the shit out of the kids and very few people get hurt in the pits at this venue.
Words: Danny Baraz
Photography: Monique Hernandez
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