Saying that Friday night show at the Echo was extremely high-energy would be an understatement. Three local punk bands, Chico, King Shelter, and the High Curbs, successively tore up the venue, installing chaos the second they started playing. Usually, the music and disorder go crescendo and take a slow start, but not this time. At the first song, I was ejected from my front row/central stage position where I was naively standing, and as soon as the four-piece punk rock band Chico took the stage, it was mayhem. With frantic guitars, maddening drumming, and a familiar wall of sound reflecting their punk rock/garage rock origins, they effortlessly conquered the place. A mosh pit immediately formed, and plenty of bodies began flying off the stage. They sometimes had sweet poppy melodies behind their punk rock energy, while other songs were more leaning toward a ‘90s hardcore punk rock but the young people around me seemed to scream all the lines of all the songs. Chico released their EP, “Summer,” in 2019, featuring most of the songs they performed on Friday night, such as “U Aight,” “Juuliet,” “Hudson” and “Dumb Beach,” and, looking at their great stage presence, I would not be surprised to hear more from them soon. During their short set, they also did a raucous and distorted cover of Billy Idol’s “Dancing with Myself” and this didn’t sound out of place at all. Everyone seemed to have a lot of fun, familiar or not with Chico (who knows?), and I have rarely seen so much fury born in such an instantaneous way, not since FIDLAR’s early shows; as a matter of fact, some of Chico’s songs even had their signature surf-punk style. In a few minutes, I lost my spot, my glasses…and it didn’t calm down with the next band.
Chico Setlist: U Aight, Juuliet, Hudson, Coil, Dancing with Myself, Dumb Beach, Ligma
Despite the continuous mayhem in the club, King Shelter’s style was a bit different and started in a more meditative way with heavy guitar riffs that sounded more metal than punk rock. Then the music took some unexpected detours, demonstrating an alt-genre with many influences, such as intricate art-rock guitars, screamed and half-spoken lyrics, bombastic parts, explosive drums, outbursts of energetic dissonance, squalls of noise, Cramps-like guitar effects… King Shelter’s music is certainly hard to pinpoint and that’s probably why they self-proclaimed themselves “Salad Rockers.” For a few songs they were in full assault mode, then the tone lightened up with a more pop anthem style and even an excerpt of Weezer’s own “Beverly Hills,” and a few lines of Oasis’s “Wonderwall,” a touch of irony in their non-traditional punk-rock approach. Their set was a mélange of dissonance, noise, and hooky tunes with classic rock undertones, creating unique music showing an appeal to a wide variety of musical tastes. They also had a great stage presence especially due to lead singer Taylor Hecocks who surfed the crowd with his guitar for a little while carried by a very enthusiastic crowd. Meanwhile, the stage diving was raging and the crowd had definitively pushed me to a safer side of the stage, although there was no safe place.
With a very DIY ethic, Shelter King started in 2015, playing local shows around Orange County. They have since broadened their musical palette and already have several releases including “Shame” (2018) and “Sellout” (2019), an album that they have described as “a battle between ambition and integrity.”
King Shelter setlist: Intro, More, Antidote, Calamity, Shame, Concrete, Everything Hurts, Blue Pigz, Failure
The High Curbs headlined the night with their original mix of in-your-face punk-rock-garage songs, brutal accelerations, epic guitar solos, and overall interesting charisma. Songs like “Empty Bottles” were pure confrontational assaults with the crowd, as frontman Eduardo Moreno screamed his lines above people’s heads and ran the stage with cool dance moves. With the addition of Alberto Alvarenga on guitar, Aaron Korbe on drums, and Kenny Huerta on bass, the quartet gave a visceral and intense performance, while Moreno never stopped spitting his lungs with fury and passion over pulverizing drumming, and guitar attacks piling at the top of each other. But I should not forget to mention their fun melodies that became loud sing-alongs with the help of the crowd.
The band could not have given a more extreme high-energy performance, with the constant participation of the crowd, which was undoubtedly the proof of a very loyal following. The sweaty and over-excited crowd never took a break, while the music never stopped diversifying with even the retro boogie tempo of “Strawberry Hill.” It was a head-banging set from start to finish flirting with hard rock metal riffs, juxtaposed with angsty angry punk anthems, while the band reclaimed their weirdness with “Weirdos” and a mad solo of rock guitar. Needless to say, each abrupt acceleration fueled the violent mosh pit, more stage diving, while other songs were pure singalongs. However, Moreno’s powerful vocals were never dominated by anything else. As I was barely securing my spot to shoot the show, people were constantly pushing me to jump on stage: it was kids having a lot of fun, so much fun that the first rows suddenly decided to invade the stage and dance around during the band’s new song, “Down,” that started with a grungy guitar assault and ended in a crash of cymbals and ferocious riffs. Of course, there was one more stage invasion for a grand finale, boosting one more time the chaos… From their modest beginning in Chino where they formed nine years ago as a group of friends in high school, the High Curbs have clearly struck a strong chord with a solid audience. On Friday night, there’s no doubt in my mind that they proved that punk shows are back with a vengeance.
The High Curbs setlist: 90’s, Empty Bottle, Tell Me, Angsty Song, Try, Strawberry Hill, Weirdos, Down, I Know, Never Bothered, Ghost, Always on My Mind, Brutus, Tony T, Want.
A whimsical and wonderful folk tune
a godawful reworking of “Juicy”
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his sweetness bleeds over
Ryan Adams is currently playing the best shows of his career
Creem – America’s Only Rock ‘n’ Roll Magazine, Reviewed Issue By Issue – October 1972 (Volume 4, Number 5)
We leap ahead almost a year
A flatout triumph from a major performer
New Wave pop bliss out
I WISH I HADN’T GONE
a time-capsule type of roster
Creem -America’s Only Rock ‘N’ Roll Magazine, Reviewed Issue By Issue – November 1971 (Volume 3, Number 6)
“Sure, we don’t pay much but then who else do ya know who’ll publish you?”