Ever had that vague craving you just can’t put finger on? Well Saturday, I think I figured mine out. I needed some live punk music and fellowship and the Punk Rock Picnic was serving it up in huge, tasty portions. This, my friends, is why I came to the West Coast.
The setting was in the heart of West Coast punk… deep inside Orange County at the Oak Canyon Ranch. So deep inside in fact that GPS and cell phone may or may not work and if you haven’t been here before (or like us, even if you have) you very likely may get lost.
Ah but once you arrive, Punk Rock Picnic is a classic punk rock event de force with punk rock acts on at least half a dozen stages of various sizes and even a few acts playing off to the side. As is usual at these type of gatherings, it was an extremely diverse crowd with older cats, some 50 or even 60+ freely mixing in with teens and even little kids, some as young as 2 or 3 and others, like this kid Lucky we met who was around 7 and just starting school. Lucky came with his dad, an original hardcore punk from OC who was intent on passing punk down to his youngest son and had Lucky sporting a mohawk with a black flag tattoo (temporary) on the shoulder.
There was only the very occasional incident… like when in mid interview with cameras rolling I lost my train of thought when I spotted in the background, a security guy chasing an older, slightly fatter punk full speed for some infraction or slight. The punk threw his beer straight up in the air and bolted off at full gallop as people gathered around to watch and chuckled at the spectacle.
I laughed thinking to myself regardless of the outcome, this isn’t Cuba and we are comforted by the thought that our portly punk friend isn’t going to rot away in some undisclosed political prison to be tortured… he most likely just got tossed from the event. The United States, land of the not so free sometimes, but also a land where you can run from security and not get “disappeared”.
Yes, it was at that moment that I realized, I was having a hell of a good time. Surrounded by thousands of people who in real life are sometimes considered “outcast” or “weirdos” by the main stream. People who are so varied in their looks and background that I don’t think I even saw the same punk band T-shirt on more than one person. At these events you quickly understand you are not dealing with the “sheeple” mentality plaguing the world.
The world needs more punk rock (Cont. below)
Having been in the scene a few years myself now, I know that the most intimidating looking punks are often, some of the nicest folks you could ever hope to meet. Punks seem to have an underlying code of conduct that “if you fall down, I’m going to pick you up”… that goes beyond a Rancid song or an out of control punk pit.
Or was that just the beer talking? I don’t think so, it’s a feeling I’d been missing and it felt like I had gone home again even though I’m not sure where my home is anymore. Maybe instead I have several and it was comforting and soothing to be back at Oak Canyon with punks, most of whom I’d never met but still felt like I knew.
Yes, my friend, punk can both indeed tame and unleash the savage beast in all of us.
Lucky wasn’t the only little kid in attendance, there were several sightings. And while one could possibly debate the wisdom of bringing kids to a loud, noisy concert, Punk Rock Picnic is different, it’s an out door festival where you can roam from stage to stage and there were vendors and even some activities just for kids.
Punk rock is here to stay. While it so often seems, with all the documentaries and books written, that punk is just a bunch of history from the 70s and 80s (and there was plenty of history at PRP with Drain Bramaged, Jello Biofra (Dead Kennedys), Fear and more) there are lots of good things going on right NOW in the scene.
I say lets don’t ONLY live in the past, lets live in the moment for a change…
Enjoy some pics from some very recent history with pics and video from the 5th annual Punck Rock Picnic 2012. More coming soon.
PS Thanks to my amigo Francisco Mora for help on getting some cool pics and and climbing on stage with Jello B. to get the cool video below.