The Decline of Western Civilization

A Documentary on Punk Music

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Different from the scene in NYC, if only because of geographic location, Penelope Spheeris’ Decline of Western Civilization documents LA punk in California. With footage from bands, including X, FEAR, and others, this film dissects the punk bands and culture in LA.

X: Under the Big Black Sun

“I came to L.A. in ’76… I wanted to do something with music…. this place was decent for that, for making something of yourself” says John Doe, lead singer of X. Coming from Baltimore, Doe formed punk band– X a year later, in 1977. Alongside band members Exene Cervanka, Billy Zoom, and D.J. Bonebrake, Doe helped establish the band around the ever-growing punk scene.

By 1980, X released their first album, Los Angeles. With songs like “Under the Big Black Sun,” “See How We Are,” and “I Must Not Think Bad Thoughts,” this band has definitely made a name for themselves with a massive fan base in Southern California. Last May, I had the chance to see X play with The Blasters and Los Lobos. Also, John Doe wrote Under the Big Black Sun: A Personal History of L.A. Punk, which came out last year. It’s a great novel, I definitely recommend reading it. Continue reading “X: Under the Big Black Sun”

Descendents

Known for witty lyrics fueled by caffeine, food, and girls, The Descendents joined the L.A. punk scene in 1977. The band originally had three members, but added Milo Aukerman on vocals in 1981. A year went by before the Descendents released their debut LP, Milo Goes to College, which included “Bikeage” and “Suburban Home.” But the album title proved to be no joke, as Aukerman went to study, and later earn a PhD in, biochemistry at UCSD.

Aukerman’s leave marked the first hiatus for the Descendents and drummer, Bill Stevenson, joined Black Flag. In 1985, the band re-grouped and released I Don’t Want to Grow Up. Over the years, the Descendents have gone on several more breaks and have issued more albums, like their latest- Hypercaffium Spazzinate– which came out last year.

Here is a video of the Descendents performing “Everything Sucks” at the 2015 It’s Not Dead Fest

 

 

Mike Ness and Social Distortion

April 3rd marks the 55th birthday of SoCal punk rocker, Mike Ness. As the front man for Social Distortion, Ness’ bad boy persona and raw talent has made the group a huge success.

Formed in 1979, Social Distortion emerged into the L.A. punk scene from Fullerton, CA. Their debut album, Mommy’s Little Monster, was released in 1982. Although it’s not the most popular album, it was a great starting point for the group. What I enjoy most about Social Distortion is that Ness incorporates, and boldly uses, his own experiences as song-writing material. Sure, a multitude of singers and songwriters do the same thing, but with Ness, the story feels real and unmasked. The song, “Another State of Mind” and “Hour of Darkness” focuses on Ness’ drug abuse. Continue reading “Mike Ness and Social Distortion”

The Bouncing Souls at The Roxy

For most students, spring break is time spent with family and friends or planning road trips, especially when you live 14 hours away from home. Sure, I was coming home for break to visit with family, but I was really coming back to see The Bouncing Souls.

On the night of the show, as a mass of people shuffled inside The Roxy- which is actually bigger than expected- I made my way to the front of the stage. I was totally psyched for the show to start. There seemed to be a certain energy in the air, as sweaty bodies smashed together, trying to get a good view. Fans made small talk, and people began to chant the lyrics to “Ole.” Continue reading “The Bouncing Souls at The Roxy”

The Roxy

Located on Sunset Boulevard, not far from Amoeba Records, The Roxy opened in 1973. Since then, a plethora of bands have graced the stage including many punk groups like The Clash, Talking Heads, and Social Distortion.

The Roxy, West Hollywood, CA

Here is a recording of (one of my favorite bands) Social Distortion playing live at The Roxy in April 1998.

https://youtu.be/V1MEvbbfhpo