Sunday, July 29, 2012

From the Archives: Inland Invasion/25 Years Of Punk: Devore CA 9/14/02 : Sex Pistols, X, Buzzcocks, Bad Religion, etc.

 This article originally appeared on in 2002. Since Suite101 has purged most of its older articles, I'm posting it here for hysterical, I mean, historical (??) purposes. It was one of the first articles I wrote after rediscovering punk rock after years as a metalhead.

Inland Invasion/25 Years Of Punk
Devore CA 9/14/02
Sex Pistols, X, Buzzcocks, Bad Religion, etc.

Review first published September 16, 2002.

On September 14th, the much-ballyhooed 25th anniversary of punk concert took place in Devore, CA. The show was not an all-inclusive representation, as it boasted no San Francisco or New York bands. .Most of the featured bands were from SoCal. and a few British innovators, including the best punk rock band ever, the antithesis of humankind … the Sex Pistols.

 My boyfriend and I spent a few hours waiting by will call to get our passes. Plenty of time to at least hear the bands on the second stage and see outlines of dust being  funneled around. I found out later that a few people had been stabbed by the second stage - at least that was the rumor going around. Well, with bands like the Circle Jerks, TSOL, the Adolescents and the Distillers playing, you ain’t gonna get roses thrown at ya. With the exception of Birmingham, England based GBH, all the second stage bands hailed from Southern California.

The parade of  T-shirts on incoming fans was mind-boggling! Everything from all the bands who were playing  to the Ramones, X - Ray Spex, the Minutemen, et al. It was a veritable history of punk via outerwear and of course, they were the requisite Sid Vicious lookalikes to boot. (No Nancy lookalikes, though, thank God.)

 By the time we got to the lawn, we heard Captain Sensible say something  about wanting to shag some Britney clones with free tics. I’m sure, I could almost hear them retort. X played a short, ragged set that wasn’t up to their usual high standards.  The fact that they were playing so early in the day was confusing enough, and the generic sound system didn’t help.

 The Buzzcocks played next – I had forgotten how good their songs were. Their sound is unmistakably a precursor to what we name-tag “pop-punk” today. But their music is intelligent and stylized, unlike many of the younger bands trading in the genre. New Found Glory and Blink 182 were two bands that definitely did not belong on the bill with real punk bands. Their music is neither pop nor punk, it’s just sing-songy froth that a Britney Spears/N’Sync fan would find cutting edge or risque. Blink especially got it bad, as they played after Pennywise practically incited the crowd to riot. And who was stationed outside the lawn mosh pit during this time -- yours truly, always one to seek out adventure. A nice moment occurred when the Pennywise, (hardcore hell-raisers from Hermosa Beach) played snippets of Ramones songs and dedicated it to Deedee and Johnny. The free booklet given out to concert-goers was dedicated to the spirit of  Joey and DeeDee Ramone.

 By the time the sun set  it was time for serious action. Bad Religion and Social Distortion railed against the man, government hypocrisy, and such. Of all the new bands, Offspring fared the best - at least they rocked. As I had suspected, many of the younger fans left after their set. Comments on the packed-like-sardines consumerist midway between shows consisted of variations on “Why the hell did I come here? This is the worst day of my life.” 105 degree temperatures, extreme security measures (no safety pins were allowed. At a punk concert? Gosh, I wonder if they busted the girl who heeded John Lydon's  request for a safety pin during the show.) and heinously overpriced food and souvenirs contributed to these sentiments.

 It took about half an hour for the Pistols to come on. It was nerve wracking. but worth it. The moment that little redhead -well, now a platinum haired freak- hit the stage,it was all worth it.  The first song, Bodies, was enough to wake up a crowd wilting from heat exhaustion and 8.00 beers. It was followed in short order by I Wanna Be Me, New York, Pretty Vacant, and the seldom heard Belsen Was A Gas (with the chorus Oy vey!)

 They played everything from Bollocks except Submission. Steve's guitar playing was excellent - some of the best I've ever heard from him - but I  swear he didn't even acknowledge the audience once. Gone are the spandex stretch pants and blow job requests of the ‘96 reunion tour. We stayed at  the side of the stage for the first song.  It was great to glance out and see a crowd of 50,000  plus cheering for the Pistols. They deserve it

 John wore some kinda silky pajama type outfit and had a few multicolored streaks in his platinum hair. First thing he does is bash the concert sponsors - Levis and radio station KROQ.  Some long-haired dude had one of those dry erase boards with rude comments about the band. I didn't see what he held up during the show, but he was walking around backstage writing dumb shit down on it. Well, John sees it, goes ballistic. “You’re in the wrong decade.” (Can't you just hear that sarcastic English accent of his? It was classic!) Then he added, “Funny, me telling you that.” Later, he was adjusting his pants and said something like "No rapper's got a package like that." Hmm, is that why Nora's so ecstatically happy all the time? During "Stepping Stone" he unbuttoned his shirt, and revealed a flat chest & tummy just like he had in '78.

 For most of the Pistols set my boyfriend and I walked back and forth behind the loge. Security wouldn't let us stay backstage after the first song. We had bought lawn tickets as insurance, but kids were packed in like passengers on a Tokyo subway train. No dif. Not to mention over a dozen bonfires were in full force. Needless to say, we couldn't make it back to the lawn. John also made some comment about "I don't live here (Ca.) for no good reason." I must say that at night with the backdrop of the mountains, the Blockbuster Pavilion venue is utterly gorgeous. But security and prices were prohibitive.($5 for a small soda.) Some guy threw a beer on him and it splattered all over his shirt. John lambasted the hapless fan.. “There's some dopey A***hole whose got more money than sense, if you're gonna buy beers f****ing drink 'em, you wuss.”

 The band ended its set with the one-two punch of God Save The Queen and Anarchy In The UK.A lot of kids were leaving and John goes, “I like this, now all the wankers are going home and we're coming on strong.The teeny boppers have left the building” The lone encore was a cover of Silver Machine, a song by Lemmy’s old band, Hawkwind.. John ended by saying "Thanks to the other bands for letting us play, cheers, and don't let the bastards grind you down." The band was amazingly tight and professional. You have to appreciate Glen’s bass playing.  I must say he is like the punk Paul McCartney - still quite handsome at 45. Cookie was pounding on the drums with his customary energy. Is another tour in the works? I hope so.

Life's A Bitch - Betsy Bitch Still Dominating Female Metal

Speaking of S&M, the bookstore isn't the only place you can find whips and chains in pop culture. Let us return to the days of black leather, Aquanet and the Sunset Strip for awhile to  reminisce about Betsy Bitch, one of the few female vocalists on the Southern California metal scene in the 1980s. Along with her band, Bitch, she provided a small but loyal contingent of L.A. thrill-seekers a dose of crunching metal guitars accompanied by sometimes naughty, sometime laughable S & M theatrics. Such a stage show was  de rigueur for L.A. bands in the hedonistic '80s (WASP, Motley Crue, the Mentors, etc.)

After signing with Metal Blade in the early 1980s, Bitch released an EP, Damnation Alley and a full-length album Be My Slave. The band also made a few videos featuring highlights (or lowlights, depending on your point of view) from their stage show. Needless to say, these videos never made it into heavy rotation on MTV. They were fun to watch on local L.A. music video shows, way after hours, though.

After an unsuccessful attempt to cash in on the pop-metal bandwagon, with 1987’s The Bitch is Back and 1988’s  Betsy, the band went back to their hard-edged roots with subsequent releases. Bitch toured Europe with the band Anger as Art last year.

You can find out more about Betsy at (an unofficial fan site)  and her official blog