Ever wonder what the difference is between a hoedown and a hootenanny? Yeah, me neither. But apparently the organizers of the SoCal Hoedown opted for the former as they laid out their plans for a long day of music set on a berth (i.e. a large parking lot that ships get parked next to) in Los Angeles Harbor.
This particular hoedown consisted of three stages, merch tents, food trucks, and a bar, all surrounded by a chain link fence and manned by security that seemed to have no idea what they were supposed to be doing. Oh, and it also included a shit ton of amazing bands that spanned multiple genres including punk, Americana, psycobilly, and ska.
In spite of what came across as a haphazard setup, the festival moved along surprisingly smoothly. Things kicked off at noon with Hamapple and bands alternating between the side-by-side main stages as folks trickled into the front gates. The momentum picked up with local OG punks Channel 3, which seemed to raise the bar a bit for what was to come next. The back-to-back-to-back-to-back on the left stage was insane … Street Walkin’ Cheetahs, Jesse Dayton, Supersuckers and Nashville Pussy all hit the stage looking to top the previous band and not a single one of them disappointed.
Punk Rock Karaoke brought out the punk classics but lined up some of the other bands on vocals so you had Angelo Moore (Fishbone) and Sean Wheeler (Throw Rag) both ripping it up before their sets later in the day. Speaking of Throw Rag, holy crap they were great but the best set of the day undoubtedly went to Fishbone. Anyone that’s seen Fishbone knows that Angelo is one of the greatest frontmen out there, but coming hot off of Riot Fest the previous day, the whole band was absolutely on fire. They were honestly the best they’ve been in years.
While it was easy to hop to between the two main stages, a short walk across the berth to the side stage was worth it to see Side Eyes, The Grim, and Love Canal. Unfortunately, those sets conflicted with Face to Face, TSOL, and Fishbone, respectively, so attendance was unsurprisingly sparse.
By the time TSOL took the stage at 7 p.m. the sun was starting to set, and the temperature began to drop dramatically. Anyone selling hoodies would have made a killing over the next several hours. The crowd kept themselves warm as they tore through their set, which was sprinkled with classic Jack Grisham shit talking. Coming off that set, Face to Face and HorrorPops took the crowd away from the mayhem of the put and more towards crowd singalongs … a welcome rest before Suicidal Tendencies ended the night.
As Suicidal took the stage, you could see the HorrorPops fans starting to exit the hoedown. There’s clearly not a lot of cross-over in the fanbase, but that didn’t seem to bother Mike Muir and crew one bit. Firey as ever, Suicidal absolutely destroyed the stage, thanks in no small part to a few youngsters in the rhythm section: Brandon Pertzborn (who recently played with Limp Bizkit and Marilyn Manson) more than adequately handling drum duties for Dave Lombardo and Tye Trujillo (son of Robert Trujillo/Metallica) covering bass for Ra Diaz who is out with Korn. Along with Ben Weinman (The Dillinger Escape Plan) on guitar, these dudes keep this 40 year old band feeling young and fresh. From the reaction of the crowd, which managed to push the barricade forward, they would agree.
When all was said and done, the SoCal Hoedown was a great time in no small part to the stellar line-up. With a few improvements like more food trucks (you were SOL if you were looking for a kebab after 4 p.m.), this sort of event has some serious potential, Hopefully it will become an annual event.