Death or Glory Fest is like Woodstock without the hippies
Sweat; beer; sing-along street anthems; fists pumping in the air; pounding sun; slam-dancers running into each other, laughing and falling on the grass—the sights and sounds of an outdoor punk festival are a rare treat in the Sacramento Valley. The opportunity to get your fix is at Death or Glory Fest, a two-day music festival showcasing West Coast punk, oi! and hardcore music acts.
“These are the unsung heroes of Northern California,” said Charles “Big Chuck” Gladwyn, singer and lyricist for bare-knuckled Sacto street-punk band Whiskey Rebels. He is organizing the festival along with Brian Faucett of the Hanover Saints and with the help of many others. The festival will be a grassroots affair, with many in the local scene providing time and effort, handing out fliers and running security for the show.
“It’s never been about just one band,” said Faucett. “In this city, people have to do it themselves.”
Both Faucett and Gladwyn are older than the typical teenage punk fan and are married with kids. Both have been active in the Sacramento punk scene for many years. Committed to carrying on the tradition of keeping the scene alive, they emphasized that it’s about something bigger than any one person or band, but about the community they care about.
“It stays,” said Gladwyn, referring to the punk scene. “After I’m gone, because it was here before me. It’s just about unpretentious, working-class music.”
Finding a venue for bands playing working-class rock with a young and rowdy following isn’t easy in Sacramento. This city has seen a number of all-ages venues generate an underground spark of life that flourishes for a short time and then is extinguished.
“It’s not like we’re starved for justice,” Faucett cracked, not one to make himself out to be a martyr. “But even Dallas, Texas, has its own music-and-arts district where they have music, tattoo shops, nightlife entertainment, all-ages places. I’m a business owner, too. I pay my taxes. I print T-shirts and have a record label. And when they shut clubs down, it affects me.”
Max’s Plainfield Station, where Death or Glory Fest will take place, is far removed from the urban environment that spawned punk music. However, it’s a perfect place for a music festival. Set squarely between Davis and Woodland on County Road 98, it’s out of earshot of any residences. The comfortable rural atmosphere of the bar and restaurant in front, where you can get Pabst Blue Ribbon and a burger while listening to Hank Williams on the jukebox, opens up to a large grassy area in the back with a tree-shaded stage.
The 26-band lineup at Death or Glory promises to be a wide selection of high-energy, dynamic acts—mostly from Sacramento and Northern California but also from up and down the West Coast. In addition to Whiskey Rebels and Hanover Saints, Pressure Point, Suburban Threat and Red Tape will flesh out the selection of heavy-hitting Sacto bands on the bill. Straight-ahead punkers the Havoc will be coming up from Los Angeles, along with Angel City Outcasts. Hardcore band Sinking Ships will be coming down from Seattle, and many other bands from towns along the California coast will descend on the Valley for the rock fest.
The Death or Glory Fest is roughly modeled after an annual punk-music festival in Atlanta called the Beer Olympics, put on by GMM Records. Whiskey Rebels, Hanover Saints and other local bands have played the festival and were inspired to throw a similar event here.
“It was like a fun party show, a meeting place for people from different cities,” said Gladwyn. “We want to do it here with a Sacto-party kind of vibe. I’ll tell you what Sac is known for: It’s a barbecue city, a porch city. It’s hot here. We cook outdoors. We kick it on the porch. That’s Sacto.”
Good times, sun, a down-to-earth attitude and lots of loud music. Who knows? Death or Glory might become a tradition.