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Hardcore punk rock is so...hardcore. An evening with Los Dryheavers.


Hardcore punk rock is some heavy stuff. Like obese-sumo-wrestler-at-an-all-you-can-eat-buffet heavy. And while its history may be difficult to trace, here's the basic gist: Somewhere along the rock & roll timeline, a subgenre emerges, one that is utterly crude, completely pissed-off and so goddamned loud that even earplugs won't do much good. It's been said that punk rock originated from the early sounds of the Rolling Stones, but I don't think Mick Jagger would exactly leap to take credit for his supposed creation. And as for punk rockers themselves, they'd just as soon give Keith Richards and the Stones the finger before bowing down to those grandpas.This week, I ventured into the blackened abyss of blaring vocals and ear-splitting guitars to uncover some of the area's wildest rockers. My two sites of excavation were the Blue Lagoon and the Jury Room, a midtown tavern with all the makings of a good punk venue: cheap beer, no cover charge and enough cigarette smoke to suffocate Marge Simpson's sister.

Friday night's show at the Blue featured a lineup of local bands that included Science of Yabra, Crucial Unicorn and the Central Coast's rowdiest rockers, Los Dryheavers. Frothing with intensity and crude (yet endearing) behavior, the Watsonville quintet tore the place down faster than the '89 quake. Watching the debauchery, I was compelled to jot down a few similes, because there's really no better way to illustrate the chaos.

Hardcore punk (such as the kind Los Dryheavers play) is like:
-getting 10,000 pianos dropped on your head while you're trying to get over a cold
-waking up during open heart surgery
-having your in-laws tell you they're moving in. For good.
-brushing your teeth with a mixture of wasabi and chili powder
-meeting Satan face-to-face, then calling him a wuss for living underground

The Dryheavers were everything that is punk: wild, rebellious and lewd (guitarist Felix Losano played half the set wearing only his underwear). And what's more, their blatant vulgarity and unruly attitude kept the audience begging for more, as if their collective appetite were insatiably demanding another song. And of course, the band never let 'em down. The musical pandemonium continued the following night at the Jury Room, with L.A.'s Anti Social and Santa Cruz's own Johnny and the Pachecos. Fueled by anti-everything aggression and a steady intake of Pabst, the Pachecos blasted through their set with a type of immeasurable recklessness to which I can only say: holy shit. Led by frontman Johnny Pacheco and bassist/guitarist Johnny Shitbird, this band knows how to blow up a gig. I mean, if punk rock is supposed to be balls to the wall, these guys have Superglued their genitals to the concrete. Mr. Shitbird himself is a veteran of the local rock scene, so it's no wonder the man's got a knack for the live stage show. He's also likely to be the hardest-working punk rocker in town, currently playing in at least three other bands including Johnny and the Shitbirds, the East Bay Drunks and Johnny Manak and the Depressives. Wait a minute, did I say hard-working? It sounds like fun. Well, whatever-try to catch him sometime and decide for yourself.

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