On Thursday, January 21, the tiny hotel Utah was treated to an interesting evening of music and storytelling.
Blag Dahlia of the Dwarves opened the show, playing a solo acoustic set of filthy little ditties. Although themes of raunch and recklessness were pervasive in his songs, Blag deftly wavered between making a point about contemporary mores and simply being filthy for the point of being filthy. In true punk fashion, about half the audience seemed to think he was hilarious while the other half seemed horrified at his decidedly un-PC attack on just about everything. Interestingly, there was a girl under the age of 21 who traveled from South America that Blag convinced the bouncer to let inside just for his show. The bouncer agreed but maintained that she had to sit on the stage. The girl's dad was there, too, bringing into question of just what good parenting is. Throwing in a few Dwarves tunes for good measure, Blag closed his short set to looks of amusement and shock. Whether or not he was making a specific point about something almost seemed irrelevant simply due to the reaction he was able to get from the audience.
The house was packed by the time the main act, Joe Sib, entered the stage and began his spoken-word show, 'California Caling.' Sib, the founder of SideOneDummy Records and frontman for such bands as Wax and 22 Jacks, began the night by talking about his earliest memories of growing up in Santa Cruz. Although SideOneDummy hosts a lot of punk's biggest acts, such as Gogol Bordello, the Gaslight Anthem and Fake Problems, Sib focused on what made him get into punk, rather than what punk is today.
Sib devoted a significant amount of the show to how his parents' divorce affected him. Interestingly, in contrast to such titans as Henry Rollins and Darby Crash, Sib seems to have maintained a very healthy relationship with his parents. In fact, it was his father's interest in sports that got Sib into skateboarding, which lead to his interest in punk rock.
But, for most of the audience, the highlight of the evening was Sib talking about his early days of getting into the punk scene. Sib reflected on his early meetings with Lars Frederiksen of Rancid, who in the early eighties, was just some guy's little brother who was used as a counterweight to keep the drumset in place. Sib then moved onto his relationship with the Ramones...but instead of gushing over the leather jacket founders, described a frank portrayal of the volatile band while maintaining respect for both Joey and Johnny. Sib even gives a Punknews shoutout when he says how heartbroken he was when someone commented "Who Cares?" on a news post about Wax reuniting.
As an oral history, Sib's show is an interesting portrayal of the second wave of punk. While many of the musicians active during that time stressed their antisocial and nihilistic tendencies, Sib seems to be the polar opposite. Highly recommended for those who want to learn about the history of early West Coast punk and some inside details about those four guys in leather jackets and jeans from Queens.