Lars Frederiksen and The Bastards - live in Santa Cruz (Cover Artwork)

Lars Frederiksen and The Bastards

live in Santa Cruz (2004)

live show

Highway 17 is normally pretty packed on weeknights with commuters making their way from Silicon Valley proper back over the hill to Santa Cruz where the dirty waters of the Pacific Ocean pound its shores. I guess people had gone home early after the long 4th of July holiday weekend because 17 was empty except for the thick forests that surround the curvy mountain roads. Downtown Santa Cruz also normally crowded with pedestrians was sleepy. The kids were piled thick outside of the Veteran's Hall on Front Street as they usually are when a good show is in town. The place is all ages and bears more resemblance to a high school gymnasium with a cheap stage curtain than a nightclub. Shows here tend to draw quite a few members of the 18 and under crowd. A particular show several years earlier involving Violent Society, The Unseen and The Casualties at said venue comes vividly to mind. I'll never forget the three skinhead kids (probably under the age of 12) dancing, pogoing and singing along with every song.

Having just seen The Bastards and Horrorpops several weeks before there is little I can say that I haven't already. My review of that show can be read here. Essentially this show was the same lineup sans two bands. There are however some highlights to this particular show that some of you out in computerland might find entertaining. If you haven't done so already I highly recommend seeing these two bands in an intimate setting like Vet's Hall. It will be one you won't soon forget.

Pistol Grip opened the show and although i've seen them several times I don't know their material so I can't comment on what was played. They seemed to have improved quite a bit since I last saw them 3 years ago and several of the songs off their upcoming BYO release sounded very promising. The crowd was really into these guys and they sounded fantastic.

The Briefs were next and this was my first time seeing them. This is another band that I have heard a lot about, but again I don't have any of their material so I cannot comment on what was played. First off the band played at a breakneck speed with a very raw 1977 garage punk feel to the music. The songs were short, the guitars were loud and the drums hit hard and precise. They played like a pack of ADD stricken kids on a serious sugar high who forgot to take their ritalin. Much like the Beltones and the Forgotten BYO was wise to pick this band up for their label.

Horrorpops were next and they added some welcome diversity to the show. It was clear by the number of shirts that I saw in the audience who many came to see. As Patricia and the band took the stage the crowd cheered with excitement. This was my 3rd time seeing them in 10 months time but they were still as entertaining and captivating with their music and stage presence as the first time I saw them. They opened with Julia which immediately led right into Ghouls. After clearing up a few issues with the sound guy Patricia explained she had the opportunity to converse in her native language (Danish) that night backstage. She explained that she was speaking with Lar's mother who was in attendance. Drama Queen was then dedicated to her followed by Where they Wander and Miss Take. As Patricia had warned, Girl In A Cage was stopped about 10 seconds in because they didn't like the fact that few people were skanking. Supported by more and more cheering from the crowd was the next song, Baby Lou Tattoo. Dotted with Hearts had the go-go dancers bringing heart shaped pillow props on stage which only served to enhance the synchronized dancing that makes Horrorpops so entertaining. The girls at the front of the stage screamed as Nekroman went into his vocal solo midsong. Last but certainly not least was a cover of Billy Idol's Rebel Yell which saw Patricia not only trading instruments with Nekroman but also instructing the audience to sing a long to the chorus. She shouted into the mic "More....More.....More" before they started. Had the show been 21 and up there probably would have been more singing along on this tune, but as it were the majority of the audience seemed a bit confused. Toward the end of Rebel Yell a large group of girls up at the front of the stage proceeded to scream uncontrollably as Nekroman flipped the upright bass completely upside down as he continued to slap it without even the slightest break in the rhythm.

Lars Frederiksen and the Bastards were next and the audience was warmed up and ready. Wearing wraparound biker shades and looking more and more like Lemmy Kilmiester Lars introduced the band and said that he knew Santa Cruz could get a good circle pit going. With that the band opened with the ferocious Dead American followed immediately by Anti-Social. The audience swelled backward and to the sides to accomodate the growing pit. Billy Bragg's To Have and To Have Not was next and had the kids screaming the chorus into the mic that Gordy shoved into the crowd. Campbell, CA was next and given that Santa Cruz is only about 25 miles away it only made sense that some of the kids were singing along louder than the others. Gods of War off of Viking elicited a huge pit and violent slamming from the crowd. S.P.D. followed and also seemed to have some kids singing along which is strange because the new album doesn't release until next week. Lars took a break and explained that his brother used to say that the kids were quiet on the street he lived on after something bad would happen, then things would be back to normal the following day. This led him into a new one off Viking The Kids are Quiet on Sharmon Palms, a new singalong anthem which nicely showcases some of Scott Abel's talent (and talented he is). Army of Zombies, Wine & Roses and Mainlining Murder were next followed by 10 Plagues of Egypt. The Motorhead version of Leavin' Here followed. Lars then dedicated Skunx to brother (Rockin') Rob (R.I.P.) and friend Ben Zanotto (R.I.P.). The band then left the stage as the audience demanded an encore.

Lars appeared back on stage shortly after leaving and asked someone for a lighter to light his cigarette with. As he inhaled he exclaimed very matter-of-factly that cigarettes kill you and "so does riding a motorcycle but I do it anyway". He then began to discuss the ridiculously unprotective half-shell helmets that are commonplace on a lot of bikers. The entire band eventually came back onstage and Lars introduced everyone saying that Craig's new band the Mercy Killers would have a track on the upcoming Give 'em The Boot. This led into the first song of the encore which is about all the band members, Bastards. 6 Foot 5 followed, again with the kids knowing every word of the chorus. Lastly was Vietnam which ended the show. The lights went on and Road to Rock n' Roll by The Mescaleros began to play on the PA .

I've heard people say around here that nothing good ever comes out of Campbell. Those people obviously have never heard Lars Frederiksen and the Bastards. The set in Santa Cruz was very similar to their show three weeks earlier on the Punks Vs. Psychos tour in San Francisco. The energy was the same as well; raw and intense, genuine and incendiary. Vet's hall was alive. The Bastards have a hell of a record coming out. Based on what i've heard so far Viking is going to be incredible whether you are from the south bay or not.