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Fed Up With ‘Pay to Play,’ an S.F. Hardcore Band Played In the L.A. Streets Out of Their Van

How is the spirit of California’s DIY punk rock doing in 2022? Thanks to the outside-of-the-box thinking of a thrash metal band from the Bay Area named Hemorage who stopped to play a couple of shows over the weekend—our scene is thriving. As part of their “DIY Grind - No Venues, No Promoters” tour up and down California, the hardcore band from San Francisco played two shows in the L.A. area over the weekend. 

On Saturday night, in a punk rock power move of unparalleled force, they unabashedly parked their step van-turned-mobile venue in front of The Regent Theater, where the three-piece band played a free show to a crowd of about 60 people moshing on the sidewalk. 

Then on Sunday at 7 PM, Hemorage played a once-in-a-lifetime oceanfront show overlooking the Pacific in a public parking lot in Long Beach. There were palm trees, punks, and pints of beer shared to the sounds of double-pedal bass drumming and guttural growling. As early as 6:30 PM, metalheads and punks, of all ages and backgrounds, started to flock to the corner of S. Termino Avenue and Allin Street in Long Beach. There was a palpable sense of excitement to experience this flash gig at a secret location that was announced less than 24 hours before it happened. 

Hemorage is made up of guitarist and vocalist Jon Orc, 32, originally from The Philippines, plus Bona Pak, 32, the second guitarist, and drummer Ron Roussel, 37. Their songs are about gentrification in the Bay area and living in a corporate world.

 

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They were featured in SF Gate when they announced their first DIY venue-less tour in March. In the story, they open up about the frustrations that come with being a truly independent thrash metal band just trying to grow and play more shows, including promoters canceling the show on the day of, requiring a percentage of the band’s precious merch sales, and the predatory “pay-to-play” arrangement that many newer bands are subject to as the only way to get inside notable venues. This is the controversial system where promoters and venue managers ask bands to hand over cash in return for a slot to play. Bands are usually asked by the venue to sell their own tickets, and if they do not, they have to buy those tickets themselves. 

At their Long Beach show, the band played for about 45 minutes, including their encore. In the middle of theset, Pak and his band members took a pause in between the solo shredding and thunderous drumming. He smiled cathartically and shouted into his makeshift hanging mic that he and his band self-engineered and built themselves. He opened up, “We’ve actually been trying to play shows in Long Beach for years, but the venues here never wanted us and no one ever called us back. But now? We don’t need them, so thanks to everyone for coming out to support.” The crowd of about 60 people clapped and roared back as the band started to play their next song.

After the band played their final song and the sun started to set, Roussel stepped off the van to personally give each and every single person who attended a free Hemorage sticker showing the now-legendary bus cruising through an ominous metropolis in the background. The van image has become their band’s new mascot. 

Some Hemorage fans lined up to buy t-shirts, which will undoubtedly raise funds for the band’s gas money. They were due to play another show on that same night in San Diego at 10:30 PM. 

From the Bay Area’s punk and metal scenes, which gave the world bands like Rancid, Green Day, and Metallica, Hemorage’s refreshing punk rock tactics and power chords are destined to be next in line as the great Northern California band. 

Hemorage is playing at Santa Maria and San Luis Obispo today, and San Jose tomorrow. Follow them on Instagram to find out the exact address. 

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