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Has Punk Rock Died in L.A. and O.C.? These Five Bands Prove Otherwise

Generación Suicida

[dropcap size=big]P[/dropcap]unk rock may not have been born in Los Angeles, but in its early days, L.A. quickly became foundational to an iconic scene that is quintessential to punk history—and today, the greater L.A. area continues to be one of the biggest breeding grounds for this unrelenting genre of music. 

While other U.S. regions are home to robust scenes in their own right (namely New York and the Bay Area), Los Angeles still dominates as a major hub for talent, gigs, and DIY venues. This year alone, L.A. was chosen as the setting for several highly-anticipated reunion shows, including Bikini Kill, Misfits, and Death Side. Other upcoming rare shows in Los Angeles include Siege’s final west coast show in August, and Wolfbrigade’s exclusive appearance in September (no other west coast shows will take place).

While recognizing L.A.’s thriving community, we must also acknowledge the contributions from its neighboring Orange County. Since its inception in the late 70s, the L.A. punk scene has had plenty of help from O.C. bands past and present, like Adolescents, Agent Orange, The Middle Class, Death by Stereo, Bad Cop / Bad Cop, and Chemical X to name a few.

Below is a compilation of the best local bands from the greater LA area. All of these bands are taking 2019 by the horns and reaping notable benefits from years of playing dusty backyards and venues of all sizes all over L.A. and O.C. These acts vary greatly in their use of power chords and shouting style, but they prove that there’s a subgenre for everyone in this diverse scene that’s been growing for the last 40 years and as strong as ever.

GENERACIÓN SUICIDA

When it comes to L.A. punk, no contemporary band has been as successful, active, or long-standing in the scene as Generación Suicida. GS proudly boasts that they make “música del barrio, para el barrio” and they’ve managed to stay true to this mantra over the years. The band’s South Central roots influence a lot of their lyricsall sung in Spanishas they frequently cover poverty, identity, police brutality, and other socioeconomic concerns. GS recently played Vancouver’s Have a Good Laugh Fest, 2019 Sound and Fury Fest, and they’ll be playing locally at The Hi-Hat this September before taking off for their Australian tour that same month.

TRAP GIRL

Trap Girl is equal parts talent and sass as they play rowdy melodic songs while also directing attention to feminist and LGBTQ issues. Vocalist Drew Arriola Sands said the band became a way for her to sublimate the anger and repression she experienced as a trans woman. “I needed an escape and I needed an outlet, and that’s exactly what punk rock isyou take what’s making you angry and you make something great out of it,” she said. Trap Girl is currently recording a full-length album titled, “The Savage Goddess,” which releases this fall. Drew says that writing the album was an emotional experience, as it originally dealt with themes about defeat and giving up. “Now this record is about living life and not giving up … it’s a record about survival and that makes me happy,” she said.

THE FLYTRAPS

Many trends have come and gone in the scene, but through them all, The Flytraps have always stayed true to their unique composite of punk, surf, and glam rock n’ roll. Their distinct music and vivacious showmanship garnered Brody Dalle’s attention last year, who personally invited them to join The Distillers’ sold-out reunion tour. The Flytraps started 2019 strong by releasing their EP, “Kitten with a Whip,” and also playing internationally at Ripndip’s Bangkok Block Party in Thailand. The Flytraps have had a busy summer too. They kicked things off by playing with The Murder City Devils and Le Butcherettes at Punk Rock Bowling & Music Festival and played Burger Boogaloo’s 10-year anniversary pre-party in Oakland. Their next gig is August 24 at Catch One for the indie fest, Mondo Hollywood.

SKULLCRACK

Orange County’s local punk scene has seen better days, but Skullcrack is single-handedly breaking the area’s dry spell with hard-hitting crossover punk full of unadulterated energy. In April, the band released their full-length album “Turn to Dust,” and they’ve since toured both the west coast and Mexico. Beyond touring, Skullcrack’s hard work has gained them shows with renowned acts like Cro-Mags, Ghoul, Negative Approach, and D.R.I. Skullcrack might be active beyond the orange curtain, but they’ve always got the home-front covered when it comes to doing it big. They recently performed Orange Crush’d Fest 4 with Adolescents, Final Conflict, and Death by Stereo, where bassist “Nasty Nate” Evans rode a motorcycle on stage and played on top of it. Gnarly.

FISSURE

If heavier and faster music is more your style, Fissure is the right band to facilitate this need. Their cacophonous and explosive sound is just as powerful in their recordings as it is live, and Fissure never fails to put on a good show. High-energy acrobatics are pretty common during Fissure’s sets. With members from both O.C. and L.A., the band also straddles the line between hardcore and a harder genre that is like a mix of death metal or grindcore and punk rock by the name of ‘Power Violence.’ They’ve had a ridiculously busy summerkicking the season off by touring the east coast and later embarking to South America for their “Trap Horn Across SurAmerica” tour. Fissure will be playing a slew of local shows before heading off to Mexico for another tour in October.

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