Punk rock always has been the bastard stepchild of popular music. Its American form was essentially born and bred in the outskirts, in smaller cities like Reno (as this week’s cover story on hardcore pioneers 7Seconds suggests). Today, Sacramento’s punk scene is often relegated to off-the-grid locations. Certainly venues like the Capitol Garage and The Distillery still throw the occasional punk show, but somehow the off-the-grid shows seem significantly more raw and desperate. These are kids from the suburbs, after all, and there isn’t any place in the world more desperate than that.
Rocklin is one such suburb. Once a small town and now essentially a small city of Frappuccino-swilling soccer moms (and by way of disclosure, I should mention that I live in this SUV-obsessed suburb), Rocklin is the perfect place to find a punk show at a makeshift venue like a pizza parlor. The surprising element here is that the particular pizza parlor/venue in question—N.Y.P.D. Pizza, at 6200 Stanford Ranch Road in Rocklin; (916) 772-6973—has been holding under-the-radar shows like this for nearly two years.
Last weekend’s four-band street-punk extravaganza opened with Los Angeles-based Angel City Outcasts (ACO), a band that displayed a level of musicianship not often heard in the punk scene, including a long, lightning-fast bass solo during the outro of one number. Another interesting facet here was the clear influence of country music on the band’s sound, in the end providing an easy comparison to both psychobilly acts like the Reverend Horton Heat and to the oi! and street-punk-style pub sing-alongs that seemed to be the theme of the evening. A sense of melody was present, as well; it was clear that the band is interested in melody and songwriting, an area too often neglected by young punk bands. With ACO, the audience was treated to both songs and feel. Impressive, to say the least.
Not as effective were Madhouse Disciples, with less to offer in the way of musical chops and stage presence; the crowd mostly took a breather during this set. Rescuing the show were Whiskey Rebels and Pressure Point. Both bands shared the street-punk sing-along aesthetic of ACO, and, also like ACO, both showed a roots foundation, borrowing from blues and country in a way that was heavily reminiscent of late-era Social Distortion (particularly with Whiskey Rebels). Whiskey Rebels instantly had the audience whipped into a fury of mosh pits and (sort of) stage diving, in part because the band was always in motion. Pressure Point continued that trend. Both these bands clearly knew how to perform, and the audience ate it up.
One of the joys of punk rock is the level of audience participation, and one of the joys of N.Y.P.D. Pizza is that it allowed the mostly teenage audience to really let fly, not only with the stereotypical mohawks, tattoos, and spiked leather jackets, but with some nice pit action at the edge of the stage. Furthermore, with the presence of some rather formidable security guards surveying the scene, one never had the feeling that the swirling aggression would get out of hand. Nice job all the way around.