Words and Photos by Greg Jacobs
Travis Barker presents the 11th annual Musink Festival at the Orange County Fairgrounds, March 16, 2018. A festival of great music and amazing tattoo artists from all over the world… Someone told me that “Milo” tattoos were being done for a mere $40 each on Friday, or Descendents day as I like to call it.
Is this 1980 or 2018? With the Descendents, Fear and Adolescents on this bill it’s hard to tell…
DESCENDENTS are simply amazing. Their set on Friday night featured songs from their entire career, songs from before Hot Topic existed (“I Don’t Wanna Grow Up,” “Silly Girl,” “Clean Sheets,” “Pervert”) and others from when you could go to the mall and buy a Descendents shirt, (“Everything Sux, On Paper,” “Without Love”). The best thing about the Descendents is EVERYTHING. Bill and Karl are the most solid rhythm section playing today, while Stephen is one of the most creative guitar players I’ve ever seen, and makes “guitar faces” that rival Mike Watt’s “bass faces” while Milo holds it all down as only a doctor of biochemistry could … Punk rock? Yes. Pop? Yes. Fast? Yes. Great? Absolutely!
FEAR was in the support slot tonight. I remember seeing FEAR at age 15 or 16 at The Cuckoo’s Nest, not far from the OC Fairgrounds, Lee Ving was covered in spit. Loogies were hanging from his arms and guitar like slimy stalactites. Instead of wiping them off between songs, he started pointing them out and describing them. He would gently move his arm and guitar to get the hanging loogies to sway and wiggle with his motion. It was one of the grossest things I’ve ever seen … None of that happened at Musink, but what did happen is Spit Stix (drums) and Philo Cramer (guitar), both from the early (loogie) days of Fear joined Lee on stage for half of the set. It was an honor to see Spit and Philo on stage with Lee again after all these years. While Lee may have a full head of gray hair these days, his energy and voice are not showing any signs of graying. They ripped through all of the old favorites like: “I Love Living In The City,” “New York’s Alright,” “I Don’t Care About You”… You get the idea.
Strung Out set the stage for Fear. I know Strung Out has been around for a long time (1989 per Wikipedia) and that a lot of people love them … This was obvious by the crowd response and the fact that the host himself, Travis Barker, joined them on drums for one song … Visually, they are a very active, exciting and entertaining band on stage. They run around, jump, and genuinely appear to be having a great time. They are not just “going through the motions” like some bands can. Musically they are a good, tight, hard playing punk/metal band. Truth be told, it’s too metal for me, but like I said, the crowd loved them, so I’m obviously in the minority.
While I think the Adolescents deserved to play later on this bill, they sure fired up the crowd for Strung Out and the later bands … Original members Tony Cedena (vocals) and Steve Soto (bass) lead the band through an amazing, old school punk rock set. They delivered their songs with speed, melody and urgency … Their set is heavy on the “Blue Record” with a few other songs sprinkled in for good measure. “No Way,” “Kids of the Black Hole” and the sing-along “Amoeba” were standouts in their set as they have been since 1980. The Adolescents rule, always have, always will.
Opening the show, before the sun went down, was the Los Angeles based band Spanish Love Songs. I had never heard of them before seeing them listed on this show and I have to say that I was pleasantly surprised. They are a 5-piece band with 2 guitars, bass, drums and keyboards … Calling themselves a “punk band” on their website is a little limiting. I mean, I guess they’re a punk band, but not like FEAR or the Adolescents. They’re a punk band like a slightly sped-up Hold Steady. Frankly, I even hear a little Bruce Springsteen in their music, but I didn’t really want to say that out of fear of scaring some of you away.