Chaos X Four = RAD

February 22, 2017
4 mins read

Ever since its beginnings in the 1970s, punk rock has boiled with multitudes of regional flavors. There’s the original London sneer, D.C.’s aggressive stomp, New York City’s hyperkinetic thrash, Southern California’s surf-influenced skank, the Bay Area’s grungy sonic assaults, New England’s poppy irreverence. And Northeast Florida music fans get a heapin’ helping of this tasty variety on Feb. 26, when four classic acts visit St. Augustine Amphitheatre’s Backyard Stage.

Much the way Café Eleven’s beachfront intimacy served as a godsend for run-ragged indie rock bands in the mid-2000s, the Backyard Stage is becoming a safe haven for edgy bands — a place where they can advance their careers past the dive bar/warehouse stage and still connect with fans in an iconic outdoor setting, a mid-level offering these four punk veterans will surely relish.

So what do you get when you mix two Orange County punk classic bands, one famous for its shocking surrealism and one credited as the godfathers of surf-punk, one group of New Hampshire stalwarts revered for perfecting the three-chord pop-punk formula alongside The Ramones, and one group of raw Oakland garage-punk revivalists? One of the best bills around — and if we do say so ourselves, the best venue in all of Florida for such a sick quadruple bill. In case you need a refresher, we’ve got more deets on each band right here.

Formed in 1979 in Orange County, California, from the same combustible mix of social and economic conditions that produced confrontational icons like Black Flag, Bad Religion, The Adolescents and Angry Samoans. But Agent Orange was the first band to properly mix deep surf grooves — think Dick Dale’s sopping-wet psychedelia, not The Beach Boys’ vanilla pop — with a brash punk-rock attitude, setting the stage for everyone from Operation Ivy to Rancid to Sublime to all that bad white-boy reggae rock contaminating beachside bars in the 2010s. Agent Orange may have released only three studio albums and three EPS in nearly 40 years, but that fact just makes their live performances all the more vital to see.

Mark Adkins and Scott Sheldon stumbled on the idea of Guttermouth when the outrageous material they were writing for their other bands got shot down. But that’s OK — once this rowdy five-piece, which coalesced in 1988 in Huntington Beach, California, got going, it was firmly entrenched on its own path. Sometimes raucous, sometimes ridiculous and somehow simultaneously confrontational and irresistible, Guttermouth continuously sharpened their sarcastic sheath knives, getting kicked off tours with bigger bands like The Offspring thanks to notoriously unhinged public behavior, getting banned from performing in Canada for 18 months after lead singer Adkins exposed himself onstage in Saskatoon (someone please write a song about that!) and even leaving the 2004 Warped Tour amid controversy over political views and attitudes toward other performers. It’s easy to piss off authority figures, parents and enemies — but when you piss off your friends, you know you’re doing something right.

How lucky are fans of New Hampshire mainstays The Queers? Last month, founding member Wimpy Rutherford came through town for his first Florida performance of foundational Queers material in 40 years. And now the Joe Queer-fronted version of these pop-punk Holy Trinity heathens (that’s girls, partying and lewd, crude humor, in case you wondered) breeze through, too. Much like Guttermouth, Joe Queer caught a lot of flak from the punk community when he expressed Republican-leaning views in an interview. But as long as disaffected kids keep discovering punk-rock, they’ll keep finding adolescent gold in early Queers albums like Too Dumb To Quit!, My Old Man’s a Fatso, Move Back Home and Suck This.

Punk rockers often think their chosen aesthetic was birthed sui generis in the 1970s, but that dogma discounts the riotous contributions of early rock ’n’ roll and primitive R&B, which in the 1950s could be as subversive as square American critics made it out to be. That’s where Oakland’s The Atom Age can trace their roots — they’ve got far more in common with frenetic pioneers like Screamin’ Jay Hawkins and Little Richard than, say, tamer and more bastardized stars like Ricky Nelson. When this five-piece added a ’60s transistor organ, a tenor saxophone and the decidedly unsubtle touch of producer Blag Dahlia to their stable for 2015’s Hot Shame, the stakes were raised even higher: Think Booker T.’s greasy chops filtered through Link Wray’s six-string fireworks, with a touch of modern hardcore ferocity à la Fugazi and an injection of confrontational The Dwarves-esque attitude sprinkled on top for extra flavor. In other words, there aren’t many modern rock bands tapping into the genre’s primal, propulsive roots better than The Atom Age.

What more do you need to know? Four bands, four distinct strains of punk rock, and four chances to lose your shit this Sunday within one of Florida’s most stunning natural backdrops. See you in the pit!

Folio is your guide to entertainment and culture around and near Jacksonville, Florida. We cover events, concerts, restaurants, theatre, sports, art, happenings, and all things about living and visiting Jax. Folio serves more than two million readers across Jacksonville and Northeast Florida, including St. Augustine, The Beaches, and Fernandina.

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