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Gonzo Report: Family vibe at Bolt Brewery’s Punk & Brews

Raucous relations

Wabash Cannons and dancers
Wabash Cannons and dancers

Raucous relations

Family vibe at Bolt’s Punk & Brews

“I didn’t get to see T.S.O.L. at The Holding Company; I had to leave because one of my kids needed me,” says Emily Anne Elliot, referring to the recent OB club show. Today, we’re at Bolt Brewery in La Mesa for the inaugural Punk & Brews, with a lineup of Dresden’s Burning, Wabash Cannons, The Calvins, and Broke Bastards. It’s an all-ages daytime event, and her ten-year-old daughter Alyssa is in front when the show starts. Steve Latham’s eight-year-old niece Ashley is also in front, but seems a little unsure of what to do. “It’s her first show ever, so we’ll see how long she lasts,” he tells me.

Place

Bolt Brewing

8179 Center Street, La Mesa

Sponsored
Sponsored

As it happens, Ashley lasts longer than Alyssa, whose Lady-Liberty spiked hair – thanks to all the heat and movement – starts to flop over instead of standing straight up. Her father, Joshua Hester, applies got2b glued hairspray in a valiant attempt to correct the rebellious tresses. The product has become standard, replacing the clear gelatin (mixed with minimal water) that my friends used when I was first introduced to punk. In true punk fashion, Alyssa isn’t interested in chatting with this nerd journalist. Her mind is on Wabash Cannons, whose CD she has been listening to in the days leading up to the show. She’s excited to see the band play live. When they hit the stage, she’s at the front, dancing madly, her flopping spikes complementing singer Knikki Royster’s broken arm — an injury sustained during a Revolt-Chix set. It’s the embodiment of punk: people doing what they want, Royster singing like Grace Slick with an extra dose of fuck-you, and Alyssa busting out actual dance moves with rhythm. It’s not until later that the notion of females-supporting-females comes to the forefront of my carnival brain, because right now, it’s not what stands out. Everyone is treated equally at this show, in this scene, at this moment.

I stand in the beer line with no intention of making a purchase. I just want to gauge how long one has to wait in the heat for a beverage. No one is grumpy or complaining, and the time passes quickly while patrons engage in conversations about music, work, life, books — and at one point, my Iron Maiden fan club exclusive Number of the Beast shirt, which a man offers to buy. It’s probably the Blonde Bliss or Surfer Lager talking, and I laugh at the thought of him waking up with a new T-shirt and a hefty wad of cash missing. But however humorous the thought, it’s still not enough to get me to part with my clothes. Though I don’t sample the beer selections, Bolt’s house brews score prime points with the patrons, with the Bolt Sour being the most cited.

I see Ashley hanging in there and Alyssa still dancing away, the latter youth having accepted the inevitability of her melting hair spikes. As adults join them in the dance space, a mini pit breaks out, but no one is in danger. On stage, The Calvins tear through a locomotive set. The sound has been pristine for every band, thanks to Kevin Hewitt’s expert manning of the board, and I score a Calvins CD courtesy of drummer Brian Vanella that will go into heavy rotation in the upcoming weeks.

Broke Bastards closes the show out, as Royster guests on a few songs. It’s clear that Ashley will not just make it through her first show, she’ll be dancing with the same abandon as Alyssa and the older punks. Before they come on, I look to snag some vittles. I step outside the brewery to the spot where Famosito Street Tacos has set up shop. For the sake of journalism, I have one of each type of taco, which turns out to be one too many. I see Harpo Supertramp consulting a woman on a tattoo he gave to a woman weeks ago. Harpo is one of the people I see at almost every show I attend, and as I subject my body to delicious gastrointestinal warfare, I’m pleased to realize that I’m sitting among friends. People with whom I have bonded over music — some through the years, others more recently, all adding up to an almost familial bond. The biological definition of family is often lacking compared to the operational definition, with its emphasis on respect and support and even love. 

That may sound odd to an outsider looking at a crowd that comprises all ages, professions and histories, but fuck the naysayers. If the San Diego “punk renaissance” is more than a media construct, then this is the reason.

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Wabash Cannons and dancers
Wabash Cannons and dancers

Raucous relations

Family vibe at Bolt’s Punk & Brews

“I didn’t get to see T.S.O.L. at The Holding Company; I had to leave because one of my kids needed me,” says Emily Anne Elliot, referring to the recent OB club show. Today, we’re at Bolt Brewery in La Mesa for the inaugural Punk & Brews, with a lineup of Dresden’s Burning, Wabash Cannons, The Calvins, and Broke Bastards. It’s an all-ages daytime event, and her ten-year-old daughter Alyssa is in front when the show starts. Steve Latham’s eight-year-old niece Ashley is also in front, but seems a little unsure of what to do. “It’s her first show ever, so we’ll see how long she lasts,” he tells me.

Place

Bolt Brewing

8179 Center Street, La Mesa

Sponsored
Sponsored

As it happens, Ashley lasts longer than Alyssa, whose Lady-Liberty spiked hair – thanks to all the heat and movement – starts to flop over instead of standing straight up. Her father, Joshua Hester, applies got2b glued hairspray in a valiant attempt to correct the rebellious tresses. The product has become standard, replacing the clear gelatin (mixed with minimal water) that my friends used when I was first introduced to punk. In true punk fashion, Alyssa isn’t interested in chatting with this nerd journalist. Her mind is on Wabash Cannons, whose CD she has been listening to in the days leading up to the show. She’s excited to see the band play live. When they hit the stage, she’s at the front, dancing madly, her flopping spikes complementing singer Knikki Royster’s broken arm — an injury sustained during a Revolt-Chix set. It’s the embodiment of punk: people doing what they want, Royster singing like Grace Slick with an extra dose of fuck-you, and Alyssa busting out actual dance moves with rhythm. It’s not until later that the notion of females-supporting-females comes to the forefront of my carnival brain, because right now, it’s not what stands out. Everyone is treated equally at this show, in this scene, at this moment.

I stand in the beer line with no intention of making a purchase. I just want to gauge how long one has to wait in the heat for a beverage. No one is grumpy or complaining, and the time passes quickly while patrons engage in conversations about music, work, life, books — and at one point, my Iron Maiden fan club exclusive Number of the Beast shirt, which a man offers to buy. It’s probably the Blonde Bliss or Surfer Lager talking, and I laugh at the thought of him waking up with a new T-shirt and a hefty wad of cash missing. But however humorous the thought, it’s still not enough to get me to part with my clothes. Though I don’t sample the beer selections, Bolt’s house brews score prime points with the patrons, with the Bolt Sour being the most cited.

I see Ashley hanging in there and Alyssa still dancing away, the latter youth having accepted the inevitability of her melting hair spikes. As adults join them in the dance space, a mini pit breaks out, but no one is in danger. On stage, The Calvins tear through a locomotive set. The sound has been pristine for every band, thanks to Kevin Hewitt’s expert manning of the board, and I score a Calvins CD courtesy of drummer Brian Vanella that will go into heavy rotation in the upcoming weeks.

Broke Bastards closes the show out, as Royster guests on a few songs. It’s clear that Ashley will not just make it through her first show, she’ll be dancing with the same abandon as Alyssa and the older punks. Before they come on, I look to snag some vittles. I step outside the brewery to the spot where Famosito Street Tacos has set up shop. For the sake of journalism, I have one of each type of taco, which turns out to be one too many. I see Harpo Supertramp consulting a woman on a tattoo he gave to a woman weeks ago. Harpo is one of the people I see at almost every show I attend, and as I subject my body to delicious gastrointestinal warfare, I’m pleased to realize that I’m sitting among friends. People with whom I have bonded over music — some through the years, others more recently, all adding up to an almost familial bond. The biological definition of family is often lacking compared to the operational definition, with its emphasis on respect and support and even love. 

That may sound odd to an outsider looking at a crowd that comprises all ages, professions and histories, but fuck the naysayers. If the San Diego “punk renaissance” is more than a media construct, then this is the reason.

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The latest copy of the Reader

Please enjoy this clickable Reader flipbook. Linked text and ads are flash-highlighted in blue for your convenience. To enhance your viewing, please open full screen mode by clicking the icon on the far right of the black flipbook toolbar.

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