The 25th annual Sunset Junction Street Fair was held last weekend. Held on a 3 block stretch of Sunset Blvd, and in the past having hosted the likes of Sonic Youth, X and the Circle Jerks, this year’s lineup was another solid one, especially for the bargain price of $10. But due to temperatures hitting the mid-90's outside, the turnout was not quite as large as it could have been. After spending an hour on the bus trying to get down to the fair, I paid my $10 and hurried through the gates as the Burning Brides were on stage.
I was pissed I‘d already missed about half their set, as this was a band I‘d seen last year and had instantly become one of my favorite live acts despite not having any of their material yet. So my apologies to Burning Brides fans if I don’t know the names of all or any of the songs they played. But it didn’t take long for me, or the few hundred or so already rocking out, to get into their set. The setup for this 3-piece from Philadelphia is pretty simple: 2 guys, a girl, your standard guitar/bass/drums and a fuck load of rock, the heat be damned. This band was tight. You could tell they were having a blast, feeding off each other and the crowd. Singer Dmitri belted out the songs while laying out fuzzed out, loud, heavy, and melodic riffs on his guitar. At one point, he took a flying leap off the drum kit and fell to the ground, but just laid there and continued to shred his guitar for the rest of the song. The drummer kept the beats consistent and solid. But I was really impressed with the thumping bass lines laid down by Melanie, who was in full headbang mode while having a wide grin on her face the whole set. It’s always great to see the band actually enjoying themselves on stage. They did play a killer version of "Arctic Snow" as metal horns started shooting up throughout the sweaty crowd. They also played a new song, which I was glad to hear that they were working on new material. Raw, intense, and dirty rock'n'roll was the theme of their set and by the end of it, they had everybody in the crowd’s full attention. This is definitely a band you need to check out live.
There was a 15-minute wait 'till legendary L.A. punks the Weirdos were set to go on, so I decided to walk around and check out the rest of the fair. Just then, some guy in dreads walked right past me and I thought to myself, hey that looks like Keith Morris…oh shit, that is Keith Morris. Presumably he had just finished watching the Burning Brides and was going to check out the Weirdos as the bassist in the Circle Jerks, Zander, was also the bassist for the Weirdos. I didn’t want to bother him as he seemed to be in a bit of a hurry. After walking around a bit, I decided to get back as the band was about to start. At this point, the crowd demographic had decidedly changed from headbanging rocker to a mix of old and young punks and punkettes. That and the crowd must have doubled in size. The wait wasn’t long before the MC of the fair, an old lady decked out in a navy captain’s uniform, waddled onto the stage. After being promptly greeted by a bunch of middle fingers for blabbering for a bit, she announced, “Thank you, thank you. So now, if you guys are ready….here they are…the Weirdos!”
Guitarist Dix Denney walked out first, dressed up in some old tattered clothes, followed by drummer Sean, bassist Zander, and a disheveled looking John Denney. Damn these dudes were old. Zander seemed like the young buck of the group and I think he’s in his 40s. So without much of an introduction, they immediately assault us with “Fort USA” and the previously docile crowd turned angry and possessed. Some large dude cleared the pit. Elbows started flying. Noses were getting bloodied. And the whole front of the stage went nuts. Yea, the Weirdos may be old, and the days of them jumping around on stage may be long gone, but they can still rile up a crowd and they can still play. The band was fast and quick paced, focused in an almost machine-like manner and taking only slight pauses from song to song. Their 40-minute set included crowd favorites “We Got The Neutron Bomb” (so fucking good that it got requested again later but wasn’t played), “Solitary Confinement,” “Cyclops,” and even a cover of the Ramones’ “I Don’t Wanna Go Down To The Basement,” which I thought could’ve gotten a better crowd reaction, but maybe the heat had something to do with it. The band didn’t talk too much, which will bother some who need the band to say something funny or witty, but who gives a fuck, it’s the Weirdos. What the band may have lacked in talk was made up with John’s almost Tourette’s Syndromesque gestures, contorting his face, and staring people down like he was going insane right before us. Or maybe he was making those faces because he was amused watching the bicycle shorts, headband-wearing geek from the 80's prancing about the pit in a full-bore drunk ballerina dance. Biggest surprise was one old dude, who I thought was totally out of his element wearing sandals, a pink dress shirt, and black vest but who then proceeded to dive head-first into one section of the crowd and jump around the front of the stage. Looks can be very deceiving. The band ended with my favorite Weirdos’ song, the one-chord classic “Helium Bar,” at which point the crowd up front started jumping around and going crazy. And with the end of the song and the crowd cheering, you could see a look of sincere appreciation on John’s face. It was well earned. Great job guys.
Still to come were the Eagles If Death Metal, Suicide Girls, and the legendary New York Dolls. Of course, you can see this is the last paragraph of the review so you can kind of guess what happened. The heat was killing me so I bailed. My interest in Eagles Of Death Metal was minimal, even less for the Suicide Girls, and I’d already had a great time seeing the New York Dolls a few months ago. That and the possible 4-hour wait for them meant it was time to call it a day.