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SCENE REPORT:
LA Punk is Blazing HOT!

Photo Erick Castles

As the pandemic aftershocks continue to shake up our societies, people are coming together to create the underground they want to be a part of. Here at CVLT Nation, we’re lucky to be able to connect with bands, photographers, videographers, creators, young ones, and OGs from all across the globe. So we want to use our platform to share and uplift the insane creativity that’s emerging from our locked-down world!

First up, we look at the beautiful chaos that is the L.A. punk and hardcore scene right now. We asked our comrades in SoCal to give us their perspective on what it’s like to be a part of the L.A. punk movement of 2021…

ZULU

Photo by Nick Santana

How would you describe the SoCal Hardcore Punk scene right now?

It’s in a crazy spot right now and it’s poppin more than it has in a long time. Bands have always been on the map coming from Southern California, but it’s honestly bigger than ever right now. And I can honestly say that about California as a whole if we’re at it. 

What energetic connection do you make with your audience when you’re performing live?

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As a band, man, everyone has different energy on stage and we take that and try to share it with the audience. And I mean, I might be up on that stage but we all in the same room, and we all vibing to the sound together. Sometimes there’s such a disconnect with bands that perform and I want us to feel like we all in it together jamming on the same song. Whether we rocking the instruments or people rocking their bodies—maybe I’m getting a little abstract, but you know!

BARRAGE

Photo by Ruben Aguilar (A.K.A. The guy in the bandit mask)

How would you describe the SoCal Hardcore Punk scene right now?

The SoCal Hardcore Punk scene has always been an amalgamation of individuals that may seem similar on the surface but are very different in their mindset and on their approach to hardcore punk. It’s fast, aggressive, unapologetic, and with violent overtones. 

Right now there are a bunch of bands that we feel are redefining what hardcore punk can be. It’s beyond the music, it’s the whole attitude behind it. The scene is thriving and carving a new path for Los Angeles.

– Edgar (Drums)

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How would you describe the current energy you’re capturing between bands and their audience?

We all feel it’s our responsibility to leave every ounce of energy on the stage when we play. It’s always bothered me when seeing a live act who has no energy behind their music; if you can’t get excited about your own shit then how do you expect us in the crowd to get into it? I love connecting with the audience directly, whether that’s by sharing the mic, eye contact, and yelling into their face, or swinging a chain above their heads. If it’s a show where people are throwing our energy back at us, it’s a fucking great show.

– Alexander Cat Daddy (Vocals)

Captured by Danny Dobyns

SECTION H8

Photo by Ruben Aguilar

How would you describe the SoCal Hardcore Punk scene right now?

It’s chaotic and beautiful. A true melting pot of different cultures and subcultures that have all come together under one umbrella. Punks, hardcore kids, skinheads, metalheads, graffiti writers, gangbangers, freaks, weirdos, rap fools.. whoever and whatever. In my opinion, it’s the best and most unified scene in the world. No bullshit, no lames… just good people that wanna blow off steam and live outside society. 

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How would you describe the current energy you’re capturing between bands and their audience?

When we hit the stage, it ain’t just ours, it’s everybody’s. There’s no separation between the crowd and the band. We’re all the same. It’s all one unit and we move together. Feed off each other. Fools go off, we go off, and the end result is chaos. Section H8’s an army and everyone’s a part of it. 

WACKO

How would you describe the SoCal Hardcore Punk scene right now?

Hungry and over the top with shit. Generator shows are becoming the most lit things to ever happen. Shows that break news headlines and get tv footage, people bringing flamethrowers and whips to shows ‘n shit. Crazy shit.

What energetic connection do you make with your audience when you’re performing live?

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The best kind of show is when there becomes no separation between the performers and the attendees. That’s the kind of chaotic possession that connects you to the kinda shit that makes you feel happy to be a part of a punk scene and it’s what leaves people remembering what it felt like to experience a certain band. Keeping that in mind as performers is important to us <3 

Ruben Aguilar

How would you describe the SoCal Hardcore Punk scene right now?

Chaos. The Punk scene in SoCal is just pure chaotic fun. From music venues, small intimate house shows, to even underneath a highway overpass. You really don’t know what you’re in store for when you go to one.

How would you describe the current energy you’re capturing between bands and their audience?

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Not trying to sound like a broken record, but once again; chaos, which is very mesmerizing. From a guy getting hit with a cement bag to the face, a drummer setting his kit on fire, to a guy who vomits on command. There’s also seeing a bunch of Punks, Metalheads, Goths, Cholos, and even Clowns circle pitting as someone in the middle of it all is on fire.

The bands and audience are letting out this raw chaotic energy. Maybe it’s been building up inside of them, leading up to this show. Whether from a long boring work week, having a bad day, or possibly feeling incredibly depressed; right when the first note is blasted out of the PA system, you see it and feel it. All that chaotic energy that has built up inside of them, waiting to come out, is finally released. That’s what makes it so mesmerizing. You see a burst of energy as the singer screams into the mic and the audience is trying to scream as loud as they are. People mosh, people fall and get picked up, fires are set, and fights break out. After the set is done, moshing has stopped, fires have been put out, and fights have been stomped out, you see this sense of relaxation sweep over their faces, and then bursts of laughter at times.

The Punk scene in SoCal is pure, fluctuating chaos.

DEAD CITY

Photo by Ruben Aguilar

How would you describe the SoCal Hardcore Punk scene right now?

The scene is beautiful at the moment, with so many good new and old bands killing it, so much creativity in the atmosphere, so many different shows in one weekend. We are really honored to be part of the scene right now.

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What energetic connection do you make with your audience when you’re performing live?

We really feed off of the crowd’s energy. We have the best fans, they literally lose their shit during our set. I usually Interact with the crowd in between each song. We love getting the crowd involved. and when they sing along to our songs it’s one of the biggest highs I’ve ever experienced.

SCALP

How would you describe the SoCal Hardcore Punk scene right now?

The scene right now is very diverse in sounds and it’s fucking rad. From LA to San Diego, we got everything from punk, power violence, and straight edge hardcore bands absolutely killing it. It’s really rad to see it all and know that it’s inspiring more kids to keep it going and improve and do everything better than we are.

What energetic connection do you make with your audience when you’re performing live?

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To me, the connection with the crowd is the only thing that matters when I’m playing. The only reason I want to play live shows is for people to have a good time when they come to see us and leave knowing it was time well spent. I take it upon myself to make sure the energy in the room is exactly how the music sounds—I want people moving and getting as wild as they want. I’ll jump in the crowd and take some hits to the face (and throw some back) if that’s what gets people comfortable letting themselves loose. I’m not doing my job if I’m not involved with the crowd so that connection is the only reason I do what I do.

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HONG KONG FUCK YOU

Photo by Erick Castles

How would you describe the SoCal Hardcore Punk scene right now?

Definitely feels stronger than it has been lately with the new wave of kids that are introduced to the DIY ethic of shows.  Even the smaller scenes below Los Angeles (the Mecca of SoCal Hardcore Diy Punk, in my opinion) have been popping off.  It hasn’t felt this good since 2010, and I think it will be this way for a while.

What energetic connection do you make with your audience when you’re performing live?

The best answer to this is that I just give it my absolute all.  This is genuinely catharsis for me and my bandmates, so, I think the crowd can feel that adrenaline permeating off of us, and, they want a goddamn piece of it too.  

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CEMENTO

How would you describe the SoCal Hardcore Punk scene right now?

SoCal’s hardcore punk scene is currently filled with tons of new bands either created before COVID or during COVID. Although there are lots of bands that have kept active during all this chaos—such as Frantic, Clorox Dream, Gape, Downside, Enemy, etc. Lots of good bands and lots of bad bands. Feels like everyone else is on a race to make up for lost time from 2020 but that’s mostly the Hardcore scene, lots of new young punks kids getting into the SoCal scene. Some hardcore, some not hardcore.

For the Los Angeles Post-Punk scene, I have to say there really isn’t a huge scene for this style of music. There are probably a handful of bands who are local to L.A. that are active and have the same style as us, like Caja De Ritmos, Nass Zuruck, Closed Tears. Although there are many hidden bands who play similar styles, we just haven’t crossed paths with them yet.

What energetic connection do you make with your audience when you’re performing live?

We just try to play it right and play it loud. Hopefully, people connect with that.

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– Marvin of CEMENTO

ERICK CASTLES

How would you describe the SoCal Hardcore Punk scene right now?

The SoCal hardcore punk scene is, in short, fucking insane. From watching someone burn alive, to being shot at by riot police, to (allegedly) watching a nazi get stabbed at a house show—I’ve seen a lot. When people bring homemade flamethrowers and medieval ball-and-chains to a secret show under a random freeway, you might as well bet money on which news station will show up at the scene of the crime first. It’s not all just about chaos, though. A lot of shows bring up drug safety, throw food and toy drives, and promote events that help out the local community. “Debauchery for Unity” is the best way to describe it.

How would you describe the current energy you’re capturing between bands and their audiences?

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It’s raw, immersive, and unpredictable. Every show I’m mentally prepared to witness something extremely provocative. It’s a unique art form, for sure.

CLOROX DREAM

How would you describe the SoCal Hardcore Punk scene right now?

In LA, I would say it’s very connected. We network within our friend groups and different talents fall together. You see some of the same artists making flyers with most of the same bands on them over and over, but it doesn’t get stale, because there are so many talented bands and artists. It goes beyond that, though, we have hair stylists, videographers, photographers, graffiti artists, chefs, clothing designers, screen printers, and even homies with their own galleries now (TLALOC). 

What energetic connection do you make with your audience when you’re performing live?

Anxiety, shyness kicks in, but I try to soak it in, stretch out and dance with the momentum. All the practice of this fastcore stuff becomes like an exhale and when I see space I slide into it.

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LAW OF POWER

How would you describe the SoCal Hardcore Punk scene right now?

The SoCal scene right now is probably the wildest and most active I’ve ever seen it in the past 15 years. The shows going down today, the bands, and everything else in between will be talked about in stories and lore for generations to come.

What energetic connection do you make with your audience when you’re performing live?

Whether it be the fists swinging, sing-alongs, or cans of beer flying, We feed off of the crowd as much as they feed off of us. The more insane and violent the better. Oi 

DEAF CLUB

How would you describe the SoCal Hardcore Punk scene right now?

Personally, I think being raised in SoCal I have managed to avoid the concept of a genre-specific scene. Also, if you give the term Punk or Hardcore to something it can be vastly different from others who somehow fall into that musical genre. For me, and the people I create music with, we all manage to look past the sounds and focus more on the ethics of a band or artist. This opens up the range of what is accessible and then creates more innovative stuff. 

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Nonetheless, there does seem to be a resurgence (that word seems too trite sometimes) of these ethics in a music scene. I would attribute it to the pandemic in some ways. I think a lot of artists have found themselves appreciating the simpler things in our world, and the basic necessity of connecting with others through art is now back in the forefront for a lot of us. Perhaps with the abundance of illegal sewer and river shows, house shows, and random weirdo events that are popping up, that all will translate into a new world that we desperately need. 

What energetic connection do you make with your audience when you’re performing live?

There is an obvious connection that an artist prefers from a crowd. The sharing of energy is reciprocated and makes for an all-around more enjoyable and sincere event. However, that is not always the case when performing. I think there are other relevant aspects to a live performance that are needed at times. I’m pretty accustomed to being given awkward, and at times, combative situations with some of the projects I play with. My overall goal, no matter what the vibe is from any given audience, is to create some sort of reaction. Obviously, then an audience digs what we are doing is great. If they don’t dig it, well, we just need to make sure they are not indifferent. So I tend to look for other elements that create something, such as confusion, annoyance, irritation, etc. Apathy is one of the worst things that humans seem to embrace. So with the amount of effort we all put into what we create, we strive to avoid any type of non-reaction from the audience. 

KETO

How would you describe the SoCal Hardcore Punk scene right now?

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I see the scene in California as more and more united and for many young people that is something very good. I come from Mexico, and in Mexico, the scene is smaller—the shows are a maximum of 50 people and they’re sold out on the first day of presale. That’s a very good thing for all of us who make up the scene.

How would you describe the current energy you’re capturing between bands and their audience?

The energy that I see bands show today is super good. I think that COVID made us arrive with more desire to be at shows—like we never know when they can stop this again, so we must take advantage of the ability to see all the bands that we can.

So far my favorite moment of the year is the first show I went to after being locked up for more than a year, the RBS gig in San Jose.

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DANNY DOBYNS

How would you describe the SoCal Hardcore Punk scene right now?

It’s a renaissance of disobedience and self-identity running off a portable generator and a tank of nitrous. 

How would you describe the current energy you’re capturing between bands and their audience?

Explosive and visceral.  It’s intoxicating. It’s organized chaos, with a sense of community.  Bands are giving us a cathartic intimate experience that we haven’t had since the lockdown. It’s definitely felt like capturing history this last year of filming and I couldn’t be more grateful to everyone who’s been working so hard to keep these shows going. 

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1753 Record Label

How would you describe the SoCal Hardcore Punk scene right now?

SoCal has been home to lots of great hardcore punk acts. In Los Angeles, the scene is active and there’s always something new to listen to. 2021 has been a great year for hardcore punk so far. There are lots of bands in LA at the moment and it’s nice to have options for gigs on weekends—from gigs at venues, in back yards, and even under bridges, chances are if you’re in LA and it’s a Friday or a Saturday you’ll have a handful of options for gigs to attend.

There are a lot of talented musicians in the punk scene that often collaborate with each other to start new bands, it can sometimes be hard to keep up with! People seem eager to create and start something new, it’s always cool to run into people and learn about new bands or projects that they have going on.

We’ve released a couple of tapes this year under 1753 Recordings. I’ve been recording bands for a long time now, and recently I began to work on releasing cassettes for bands and musicians local to the LA scene. Most recently we released cassettes for bands like Demonios, Personal Damage, and Future of Despair, each highlighting different sounds and styles that stand out in the LA scene. It’s definitely a good time for hardcore punk in the SoCal scene.

What energetic connection do you make with your audience when you’re performing live?

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I currently have a few different projects that I’m working with, but I’m most active with Tortür. The three of us are into noisy punk stuff, so when we play live there’s lots of fast dbeats, high-gain distortion, feedback, and noise. When we perform we usually play a short set between 12-15 minutes long. We don’t take many breaks and when we do it’s clouded by noisy feedback. We try to put emphasis on creating an experience of ear-splitting-loudness and intensity and we do it mostly through high-gain noisy guitars/bass and playing everything a notch faster than our recordings.

L.A.U.R.A.

How would you describe the SoCal Hardcore Punk scene right now?

For the past few years, I felt that LA/SoCal Punk has been largely overlooked, and with that comes many talented bands having gone unnoticed. Now I feel like there has been a renaissance of sorts, eyes are back on LA/SoCal for the type of quality that we are historically known for. It makes me incredibly proud that this scene is also predominantly represented by POC and many other marginalized peoples.

How would you describe the current energy you’re capturing between bands and their audiences?

I feel that these bands are more than willing to take the leap forward and redefine what LA/SoCal punk can be. There are bands such as DOWNSIDE who have a cult following here in LA, a band of the people, who speak directly to and build a strong connection with the audience who they are performing in front of. I see nothing but the great and aspiring promise of this new scene of young punks. 

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FOOTAGE SHOT BY DESMADRE @desmadre___
FOOTAGE SHOT BY DESMADRE @desmadre___

Bryan Ray Turcotte

How would you describe the SoCal Hardcore Punk scene right now?

Huge As Fuck! Bigger and Better than I EVER could have expected it to grow to be. From Arenas to Backyard parties, there are more bands and DIY punk rockers than ever before. Long Live Punk…Start a Scene, Form A Band, Make Shit, and Support Each Other! D.I.Y. forever. Don’t ever ask for permission to be yourself. 

Photo by Erick Castles

Sam Velde

How would you describe the SoCal Hardcore Punk scene right now?

RAGING. There are not only a lot of bands right now, but a lot of GREAT bands. Plus a community that’s it’s not only proactive, but encouraging and supportive of each other, which of course is what really makes a SCENE.  

I want to give a HUGE Shout to these videographers for holding it down!

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Stay Thicc & Torquerzine

Photo by Erick Castles
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