One, two, three, four!
Monstros celebrates 10 years of keeping punk alive in Chico
No one can remember the exact date of the first punk show at Monstros Pizza because nobody can find the flier for it. It’s a fine detail that doesn’t really matter in light of the decade of consistent punk and metal shows and the memories of the members of Chico Area Punks—the group of friends and music fans responsible for organizing shows on the restaurant’s sawdust-covered floor.
Like the first time Monstros hosted the CAMMIES punk showcase, said Jimmy Lopez during a recent gathering of a half-dozen CAP members, when the group set in motion its now infamous annual punk marathon by eschewing what they saw as a battle-of-the-bands type of competition in favor of giving stage time to any band that wanted it.
Molly Roberts, another member of the group, recalled the night she showed up to work a show for a band she didn’t know anything about—The Fabulous Downey Brothers—to be blown away by the raucous antics of a costumed band of disco-pop performance artists.
Or long-lived Chico punk band Gruk’s last show, in 2010, which the band’s guitarist Chris “Scribles” Schreiber described as an emotional experience. “My favorite part was when Dirty Jim picked me up on his shoulders and I ended up crowd-surfing while playing guitar,” Schreiber said.
“Yeah … that was fucking epic,” added Rachel Love, Gruk’s vocalist.
Gruk and a number of other blasts from Chico’s punk/metal past—Zabaleen, Baghdad Batteries, Mad Mom and the semi-active Armed for Apocalypse—will reunite this Saturday, Oct. 15, joining current acts Tri-Lateral Dirts Commission, SICKO and Sleazy Earl Ray & the Two Drink Minimum to celebrate 10 years of live music at Monstros Pizza.
“They’re … uh, coming,” Love said sarcastically when asked about the status of the reunion efforts, many of which include Chico expats who are returning to town just for the celebration. She said rehearsals have been complicated by the fact that Cody “Von Peligro K” Kennon—who is in three of the bands—became a father in recent weeks.
In addition to memories, the CAP crew shared the two keys to turning a pizza joint into a lasting punk venue that remains a destination for independent touring bands from all over the world: organization and cooperation. In 10 years, they’ve gotten shows down to a science, with multiple members capable of fulfilling all of the necessary positions—booking, publicity, manning the door, sound engineer, setup and cleanup, and patrolling the parking lot to ensure people’s good time doesn’t get out of hand and negatively impact the venue.
The cooperation comes in part from their working relationship with Monstros owner Greg Danielewicz. The CAP members said Danielewicz doesn’t take money from cover charges so it can be distributed among the bands (that also get free pizza), trusts the group implicitly, and is quick to express any concerns he might have.
For the past few years, the scene at Monstros has also been bolstered by the presence of another, younger group of community-minded punk-rock idealists called the Jefferson Crew (most CAP members are on the far side of 30). Two members of the newer group, Sawyer Goodson and Mackenzie Zevely-Howlett, are putting together a ’zine commemorating the 10-year anniversary.
“I played a show there with a band called Jet Fuel in August of 2007 … I was probably 12 or 13,” Goodson said of his first Monstros memory. “It was with Mosquito Bandito, The Shankers when they were The Spankers, and one of Barbara Manning’s old bands called The Sleaze Tax. We just played a bunch of covers and stuff.
“It was such a neat and inspiring little place for me as a young teenager,” he added. “Over the years it’s grown into one of my second homes. It’s one of those places that every town needs … an all-ages venue with pizza, beer, punk music and a ton of cool people running it.”