Dirty Penni Fest IV At The Echo/Echoplex, Saturday July 6th 2019
Every year, the Dirty Penni Fest is here to remind me how many young bands are out there, how many I have never heard about (or very little), and the one-day festival reminds me how much out-of-touch I am with today’s punk youth! Punk is the theme of the day with its endless pop-rock-noise-metal variations and all the bands which played in quick succession during Saturday afternoon and evening are a proof that kids are still interested in this genre of music, despite what you may have heard. But, after all this crowd surfing and full-body moshing, it certainly proves that young people are still very much into live participation.
The Dirty Penni Fest was in its 4th edition, with a special tribute to the late great Dick Dale by local sensation The Buttertones, but the entire day was a fun spectacle, with about 20 bands playing inside the Echo/Echoplex/outdoor patio, and plenty of variations around your average mosh pit.
There was a remarkable amount of girl-fronted bands (even all-girl bands) from Small Crush to Street Play, Kuromi, Sabrina Is Not In This Chat, Clit Kat, Destroy Boys, and a common denominator would be their thirst for chaos going crescendo all night long. If the charming Small Crush was still this cute garage-pop-rock with a #tragicgirl attached, Kuromi was all rage and screams with a crowded and colorful moshpit. It was the same scene for the clown-theme of Clit Kat, fronted by a ferocious screamer who was hurling like a devil metal of hardcore. Sabrina Is Not In This Chat was as abrupt as a Black Flag album played by Sonic Youth, and Destroy Boys truly meant their moniker, they were the new riot grrls, unmerciful and commanding the room with a few leg kicks and reckless energy.
The girls had all the rage and the anger, and they were the fighters, but there were a few interesting guy bands too: the joky stripped down bass-and-drum Rick N Dick, the quiet-angry Hot Brothers, but also the sexy languid synth of Pink Sock and its jazzy tropical accents, or the very entertaining Playboy Manbaby and their punk outdoor karaoke offering a series of catchy inflated-swagger anthems.
But Elephant Rifle stood out from the crowd with a sweaty hardcore attitude and heavy metal-riffs dominated by a shirtless frontman ‘terrorizing’ the Echo. Self-proclaimed too artsy for the headbangers, too sexy for shirts and too drunk for the straight edge, they were quite the attraction.
The calming and serene music of the Healing Gems was shining like a freshwater oasis in this punk salty sweaty chaos, and their multi-influenced music sounded like an invitation to travel on a tropical island. Perfection fronted by Patrick Nolan (of Meatbodies) was all about melodies and at least one of them sounded strangely familiar, between synth swirls and sexy dreamy pop.
I had forgotten that Ultra Q was actually the new moniker of MT. EDDY, Billie Joe Armstrong’s kid (Jakob Danger Armstrong) band! They played fast with plenty of confidence, like a mix of boy rock bands of the 90s and 00s with real melodies and Armstrong-signature accents… Jakob asked the crowd to separate in 2 parts to let enough space for a good mosh pit, so they obviously wanted the punk moves too. Orange County-based the Grinns brought their own variation on surf rock with melodic pop-punk, although they have described their music as flexy soul rock n’ roll… but did I get some vague Strokes vibes during a few songs? Possibly! However, the rest of the night was all about Tropa Magica and their psychedelic Cumbria dancefloors, there were actually too many influences in their set to sum them up this way, a brand new song sounded like something totally different from the rest and the funk they injected in some of their tunes was Prince-worthy
The Buttertones headlined with a brief homage to Dick Dale and a set of their own music, and new and old received the same enthusiastic crow surfing and rib crushing against the barricade. The foursome (one of them has recently left the band) is certainly a local phenomenon, some good looking young guys in suits playing a surfy, sweaty sax-injected pop with a dark side and plenty of punch. Staying in the front was not a choice, but there was actually nowhere to go, and the crazy waves of young girls were pushing too hard for me to move or even breathe. It was a steamy scene and an encore with one of our city’s anthems, La Bamba! The Buttertones have that special retro-modern feel and they were a great finale, adding a nice touch of romantic hopelessness to a full day.
The kids were all right at the Dirty Penni Fest, it was probably not the place for your average sad girl with a guitar, the punk rage was in full display, and it was a happy scene to witness, a colorful crowd of punks-to-be having fun in their playground.