The city of Los Angeles is steeped in a rich punk tradition that dates back to the late 1970s. The films that make up “The Decline of Western Civilization,” by Penelope Spheeris, are among its most compelling visual documents. In the first of the series she tells the story of Hollywood at the end of the 1970s, when Black Flag, the Germs, X, Fear and other bands were coming up in the ranks. Still, the defining characteristics remain consistent. Alienation with mainstream life and culture prompt the new generation of punks to dress in the same ripped clothes covered with band patches and carry the same attitude as their antecedents. Though many aspects resonate in the punk scene today, the demographic has shifted considerably since the embryonic of the life cycle of the genre. In addition to place, punk rockers are bound by a shared sense of boredom and disaffection with mainstream culture. It’s what led them to seek refuge in music — and not only punk music, but also classic and psychedelic rock, metal, goth and post-punk. Though the subject matter differs from band to band and song to song, there are certain common characteristics. A feeling of disaffection with family life informs much of the music. And at virtually any show, there’s young souls seeking social redemption.
The social-justice-minded spirit that permeates the punk scene in Los Angeles are best reflected by Whittier homies… Plague Vendor. They’ve completed a yearlong tour promoting their current album, “By Night”. The sold out show at the world famous Echo showed that they can kick ass better than any rock and roll band. They certainly are not for the quiet mind. I knew something was up when they walked on stage to Tom Wait’s song, “Goin’ Out West” and hit it with “New Comedown”.. They’ve created their own version to the story that punk rock has told for decades: Alienation breeds creativity which breeds community. Their music is politically charged, interactive and at times combative. When most rock bands are satisfied by pushing the limits this one wants to blow them up! You take home form a P.V. gig is that they are honest to their fans and they reach out to communicate their feelings; and they’ve successfully found a crowd that is willing to listen.