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Power Chords singer/guitarist John Hammer isn't bummed that his band didn't win "Best Punk" at the San Diego Music Awards, however...

"They botched the category of punk," says Hammer. "[Other nominees] Kill Me Tomorrow is indie rock. The Parker Theory is for softer ears. They aren't rebellious at all." And, regarding The Plot To Blow Up The Eiffel Tower, who won: "Their attitude is punk, but their sound is indie. I'm sure the Plot would feel the same way.... A lot of San Diego punk bands aren't playing punk. Punk, to me, is one-two-three-four. You have to be able to pogo to it."

Power Chords guitarist Eliseo Parra says the local punk scene has been driven down by venues such as Soma and the Epicentre.

"We don't have any all-age venues except the ones that demand you bring in 100 kids who pay $10 each to buy presale tickets. [The now-closed] Club Xanth [in North Park] was great. You could hang there all night. And [UCSD's] Che Café used to be there for the youth. Now I get dragged out by the neck because I didn't pay. Back in the day, when the punk scene at the Che was a little more alive, you could go work in the back for an hour and they would totally let you in."

Parra says the stagnant scene has driven the Power Chords and other punk bands (such as the Sess, Sentient Manifesto, and Long Live Logos) to stage illegal shows in Bonita and Chula Vista. So far, they've done about six.

"It's a lot of work. We get a generator and we make a stage on the beds of three trucks. We sell concessions at cost. It's just a free event for youth.... We did one on the end of Eighth Street. Once, we played in a tunnel underneath Telegraph [Canyon Road].... One time we took power from Starbucks and played in the alley.... We've never been busted by the cops. Everyone knows not to act rambunctious and insane."

The Power Chords appear Saturday at Scolari's Office in North Park with And His Trusty Goat and Pinwheel. Must be 21.

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