Words & Photos by James Alvarez
Surf City Blitz, the raddest new punk and motocross festival on Earth, took place on October 27 & 28 in Huntington Beach, California. The fest featured fast paced motorcycle action, a rad concert photography gallery/exhibition, tons of vendors, food galore and the gnarliest punk rock dream team lineup you’d ever imagine. New Noise Magazine was fortunate enough to attend both days of fun and sun on the sandy SoCal shore. Here’s our day by day run down of the musical madness that was, the inaugural Surf City Blitz!
Fear are Los Angeles punk legends. Their iconic frontman, the mighty Lee Ving, whipped the crowd into a frenzy with his trademark “1-2-3-4, 1-2-3-4!” howl. Their afternoon start time didn’t stop Fear from making the massive festivals grounds feel like a sweaty punk club. The sand was flying during “Beef Bologna” for sure.
Suicidal Tendencies had the wildest set of the entire weekend. As the sun set and the temperature dropped, Venice Beach’s favorite skate punk thrashers unleashed a scorching performance at the now jam packed Surf City Blitz grounds. A literal ocean of people, beside the actual Pacific Ocean, got their “Cyco Vision” on with Mike Muir and his merry men, who now include Dave Lombard [drums, ex-Slayer] and Ben Weinman [guitar, ex-The Dillinger Escape Plan].
Pennywise‘s high octane set helped put the blitz in Surf City Blitz’ title. These SoCal heroes are so well loved round these parts, Pennywise accidentally stole a bit of Rancid’s stage time…the next day [more on that later]. The one-two combination of Suicidal Tendencies and Pennywise playing back to back was either a genius stroke of planning by festival organizers or an early Christmas gift from the mosh pit gods, because the band prompted numerous circle pits, even far off near the porta potties of all places. The band handed off their instruments and let members of The Vandal’s come on stage and play “Urban Struggle” before eventually returning and ending things with an epic rendition of “Bro Hymn.”
The Offspring headlined night 1 like the reigning world class punk rock champions they are. If you’ve ever wanted to lose your voice, try singing along with 20,000+ people at a windy beach while The Offspring are ripping through “Come Out And Play.” Frontman Dexter Holland noted this might have been one of the band’s only Huntington Beach concerts of their entire career, and what a hell of a gig it was! The band pulled out all the stops, opening with a Twisted Sister cover [“We’re Not Gonna Take It”] blasting through their laundry list of hits, and even playing a new song from their upcoming album. After a full day of skank beats in the sun, only a band like The Offspring could keep that ocean of people flowing back and forth til the very end.
Black Rebel Motorcycle Club brought a bluesy change of pace in the middle of day 2. The band’s guitar-centric jam vibe fit surprisingly well as the afternoon crowd grew to the massive, ocean sized proportions from day 1 once again.
Bad Religion at sunset, in the heart of Southern California. Surf City Blitz flat out erupted when the band came out and launched into “Recipe For Hate.” These LA natives whipped the crowd into a frenzy like Suicidal Tendencies did the day before. We’re talking mosh pits and crowd surfers [including a dude in crutches…check the crowd gallery below!] galore. Frontman Greg Graffin made a last minute plea for the Dodgers onstage, before continuing to kick the crowd’s ass. Los Angeles might have lost the World Series, but SoCal punk won big time during Bad Religion’s set.
Rancid‘s evening performance was the crowd singing peak of day 2. The fans went absolutely nuts singing along Tim and Lars. It helped that the band played a shit ton of tunes from their seminal …And Out Come The Wolves record. The sheer number of bodies flying into the photo pit during “Roots Radicals” was by all accounts, pretty radical. Rancid shared some love with all their friends who played Surf City Blitz and gave a special shout out to Pennywise. The band didn’t expect the crowd to burst into their own extended version of “Bro Hymn” however, prompting laughter from the band and Lars Frederiksen to suggest they “never do that Pennywise bit again.” Rancid ended the night with their own massive singalong on “Ruby Soho.”
Social Distortion closed night 2, performing in front of another massive 20,000+ person crowd. With forty years under their belt, Social D has a legitimate legion of multi-generational fans and it seems like they were all in attendance for the end of Surf City Blitz. Mike Ness crooning the words to “Don’t Take Me For Granted” under the stars with a cool ocean breeze in the air, was perhaps the best way to end this gargantuan new Socal punk festival.
Surf City Blitz Fans