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Resurrect California Fest Takes Over Gilman Street 

Punks! Punks! Punks!

Wednesday, Sep 2 2015
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Despite its rather silly sounding name, Resurrect California Fest has punks around the Bay Area buzzing. Hosted (and funded) by the historic, volunteer-run 924 Gilman Street club, the festival (Sept. 4-6) promises to provide punk and hardcore fans with three days of non-stop action this weekend. From veteran headliners like Bold, to young upstarts like Southern California's Drug Control, Resurrect California has put together a lineup that has a little something for everyone interested in punk or hardcore. Whether you're an old guy with a covered-up Black Flag tattoo, a wallet filled with expired Gilman St. membership cards, and a generally bad attitude, or an excited 16-year-old in engineer boots, we've got you covered with a handy guide of which bands not to miss this weekend.

Day One

GAG

Many hardcore shows are hidden away from the general public. Addresses are spread word of mouth to avoid detection from cops (who sometimes make bizarre Facebook profiles like "the Boston Punk Zombie" to try to gather information), so most flyers just say "ask a punk" instead of listing an actual location. Well, if you ask any punk clued into the U.S. hardcore scene to name their top five shows in the last couple years, there's a good chance GAG will be one of them — and with good reason. The Olympia outfit uses squealing feedback, waves of reverb, and hard, driving percussion to create a sound that's damn near unique — impressive in a genre that's been beaten to death for a few decades now. From Indiana basements to Olympia pizza shops and Brooklyn loft apartments, punks are excited about this band, and that means the shows are always wild.

The Coltranes

It's fair to say The Coltranes have one of the strangest origin stories of all the bands playing Resurrect California: the band started off as more of a country bluegrass band than anything resembling hardcore punk. It was only over time that the close-knit, fringe-dwelling group was exposed to hardcore in a variety of ways, such as an invitation to see Downpresser (who co-headlines day three) at a DIY warehouse spot. Gradually the band's music became more aggressive, with its first punk tendencies popping up on the subtly named Chris Benoit EP, and coming to beautiful fruition on its latest release — The Cat of Nine Tails EP. Now Temecula's weirdest, most entertaining, and attention-demanding punk act, The Coltranes have never lost sight of their eclectic influences. Spencer Heath, the band's frontman, still writes all his contributions to the band on acoustic guitar with folks like Hank Williams and Lead Belly in mind — although you might not see those roots shining through on Sunday when he drools like a rabid dog and snarls through track after track of rhythmic, hard-hitting outcast punk.

Day Two

Coke Bust

Washington D.C.'s Coke Bust is not only one of the U.S.'s best hardcore exports, spreading the good word through relentless globetrotting, but is also intimately involved in many of the scene's inner workings. Members of Coke Bust book one of the nation's best annual hardcore festivals, Damaged City, and help to nurture one of the best, youth-centric DIY scenes right in the shadow of the White House. The group is pretty much a model of what you'd want from an established hardcore group — helping the scene in a variety of meaningful ways. But on top of that, one of their last performances at 924 Gilman a few years back, at the now defunct Gnarmageddon Fest (which, after the booker's ill-fated decision to dress up as Trayvon Martin for Halloween, was quickly discontinued), stole the show. The group pushes hardcore to its breaking point, driving it right up to the edge of the powerviolence/grindcore cliff without actually jumping off.

Violence to Fade

Expect to see these guys in the pit for Breakdown on Sunday. The Massachusetts group uses a generous helping of late '80s hardcore influence to create its sound, but adds enthusiasm and excitement that makes their take engaging and fun. I once saw this group play in a DIY spot in Connecticut where fans had to trek through mud, squeeze in between several cargo trucks, and walk down a dark, wet alley to get to the spot. Needless to say, there weren't very many people in attendance, but Violence to Fade played that 10x10 room with everything they had, and those in attendance danced hard, slipping and sliding on the flooded floor. If they bring even half that much energy to Gilman this weekend, the "no stagediving" sign should just throw in the towel right now.

Day Three

Breakdown

Originally formed in New York in 1986, this heavy hardcore band is revered among hard-moshers for its 1987 demo tape — a bruising 9-song offering that provides a mid-tempo attack that would become one of the signature sounds of late-'80s East Coast hardcore. The demo was so influential that both the first and second track ("Sick People" and "Kickback") have been canonized as band names for modern-day hardcore outfits. Backtrack, a highly celebrated, current hardcore band out of Long Island, also used Breakdown's 1987 demo as the cover of its 2008 demo. And although the band has a rich history, one that has influenced hardcore kids around the world (Sick People are from Australia, and Kickback from France), this show won't just be a reenactment of Tompkins Square Park. It'll be a real test to see how the 1987 demo lineup does in front of a crowd of 2015 hardcore kids who have just seen three days of hardcore.

Plead The Fifth

Sacramento's Plead The Fifth mixes modern hardcore elements with a well-rooted '80s style to create something heavy without the use of obnoxious downtuning, and exceedingly tough without any faux posturing. But underneath the muscle, the band's lyrics map out a vulnerable, lonely reality, giving Plead The Fifth an emotional edge on many of its cookie-cutter counterparts. Tracks like "Nowhere," which use mid-tempo rhythms and breakdowns to get the dancefloor moving, also display an immense sense of openness, something that adds to the punch of each mosh part.

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About The Author

Matt Saincome

Matt Saincome

Bio:
Matt Saincome is SF Weekly's former music editor.

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