Tonight was the first show of The Lookouting’s four day punk rock extravaganza held at the famous 924 Gilman St venue. A venue I have always wanted to step foot in and experience the punk rock collective of the Berkeley punk rock scene. You see, growing up in little old Adelaide, I read about these kinds of places in the pages of Maximum Rock N Roll and always wondered what it would be like to actually be there. In 2009 I came close and got a photo outside the venue but there were no shows on that Tuesday and so that was the extent of my time there. Now, five years later and I am here for what is one huge walk down memory lane, seeing a whole heap of bands I grew up listening to the records of.
Upon arrival I was greeted by Alex, the man who put this whole show together. He gave me my wristband and we had a chat and it was all awesome. I then saw my buddy, Bobby, bass player extraordinaire for The Sorority and El-Presidente for Turbojugend’s Oakland chapter. It was great to see him again as it had been a while. It seemed that word had spread pretty fast that a guy from Australia was coming to these shows and everyone who I either met or just randomly talked to me knew who I was. This was so surreal to me but these were my people and for the first time in a while, I felt no anxiety in this crowd. I feel anxiety around so many people but this was different. Everyone was so nice and the atmosphere inside 924 Gilman St was everything I always believed punk rock should be.
So here I am, standing at the merch booth checking out what’s on sale when I see all the books by the RESEARCH Publishing company. Way back in the day these guys released a book called Incredibly Strange Films. This book, along with the Psychotronic Encyclopaedia of Film, were bibles to me in my hunt for the weird, the strange and the truly bizarre b-movies of years passed. Now, here I was talking to the guy who put this book out. He couldn’t believe someone in Australia read his books. Like most things I have found in life, you never really know how far your art reaches unless someone tells you they read, saw, heard it.
I was purchasing a reissue of the Kamala And The Karnivores 7″ that originally came out on Lookout Records in 1989, and my original has gone walkies so another was needed when this woman comes up to me and asks if I was the guy from Australia. I replied to which she introduced herself “hi, I’m Kamala!” My Brain did a back flip as this woman has drummed on some of my favourite punk singles, namely the records of Cringer. (For those who don’t know Cringer’s music, I wholeheartedly recommend picking up their Greatest Hits Vol. 1 CD if you can find it. It’s well worth it.) Kamala was absolutely adorable and was just super nice. We chatted, I got her to sign some records and exchanged details as I really want her to come on the show and talk about her life in punk rock and playing in Cringer, Naked Aggression, and Kamala And The Karnivores who were playing this event tonight.
I also met Larry Livermore; the guy who started Lookout Records. I bought both of his books and we had a short chat about Australian punk heroes, The Hard-Ons. I am always super stoked to hear when people in the USA like The Hard-Ons or any of our other great punk bands but namely The Hard-Ons cos they’re the best band ever and they deserve all the recognition in the world for being the legends they are. If you’re reading this and have no clue about this band, I suggest you head to YouTube and check out the album Love Is A Battlefield. Trust me, you’ll love it.
First band of the night was Black Cat Music. I only have the October November CD but I was still excited to see these guys and they didn’t disappoint. In fact, these guys were the perfect openers because if this was any indication of what we were going to expect over these four days, we are in for one hell of a treat. They were well loved and it was exactly what I needed to hear. I can safely say that the first band I ever saw at Gilman St was Black Cat Music. That’s not a bad way to start off a conversation.
Kamala And The Karnivores came on next with their stripped back straight up punk rock with humour and a great attitude. Hearing them all sing together on the song Black Thumb was a sweet moment and it was great hearing the songs from the original single which you should all check out. Grab the reissue on 1986’D Records.
The Criminals came on next and we’re on fire. High energy punk rock with a bassist sporting an INXS shirt. Hell yeah, Australia represent!!! These guys were tops and Jesse (vocals) spent more time in the audience than on the stage and it ruled. I don’t own their record and I feel kinda ashamed of that cos I probably need it.
The Sewer Trout Experience was a tribute show to the band Sewer Trout. These guys were a whole lotta fun and even featured Operation Ivy’s drummer, Dave Mello, on guitar and vocals. In tribute to this, someone decided to bring the electronic board game “Operation” and start flailing it around the mosh pit. Why, who cares! It was random and it was hilarious. Original vocalist Jim Maclean sadly took his own life in 2005 so this was a special homage to the music Sewer Trout had made and a perfect night for such a tribute.
Closing out the night was TILT. I’ve had their first 7″ for like 22 years and to finally see this band live was a real treat! They sounded great and it was such a fun show. The crowd was pumped, the band sounded great and Cinder Block is such an awesome front-woman. During a tune-up between songs, Cinder lead the crowd on a sing-along through Janis Joplin’s “Piece Of My Heart”. She actually did it justice and if you’re keen, it’s already on YouTube so go check it out.
After they finished, I got my TILT records signed, said my goodbyes and walked away from The Lookouting one very happy Damo. And this was just the first night. Next up, Dr Frank with Surrogate Brains and The Invalids. Let’s do it!
Black Cat Music
Kamala And The Karnivores
The Sewer Trout Experience