What’s up, indie rock?
Catching up with two legendary Sacramento bands at Los Angeles’ annual Fuck Yeah Fest
Sacramento, CA 95816
It was 100 degrees and dusty, bottled water cost $4 and, of the estimated 20,000 people who converged on Los Angeles’ State Historic Park in Chinatown this past Saturday, more than too many passed out from dehydration.
Those who managed to sustain ample fluid levels were treated to hourlong lines, where hipster raconteurs proved once again that irony is dead by championing bands named Philip Seymour Hoffman; bikini-clad 20-somethings with cupcake tramp-stamp tattoos serving trendy food-truck eats; ubiquitous Chinese parasols and fedoras; motionless fans who smoked medicinal cannabis to cure said inertia; and $5 Pabst Blue Ribbon drafts in tiny cups.
Oh, and there was a cool slate of 35 eclectic indie-rock bands and performers. Headliner Panda Bear, of Animal Collective, let people down with his tedious, psychedelic ’80s fusion. And undercard Ariel Pink rocked a set of, uh, psychedelic ’80s fusion.
But the strangest happening of all at Fuck Yeah Fest was that two legendary Sacramento groups, Chk Chk Chk and 7Seconds, played the same lineup for the first time ever.
7Seconds frontman Kevin Seconds, who has a new solo album, Good Luck Buttons, is celebrating his band’s 30th anniversary in 2010. In an e-mail interview, he explained that he was riding a “48-hour, lack-of-sleep delirium fest of [his] own” during 7Seconds’ 35-minute set on Saturday, which inspired frenzied moshing and crowd surfing.
Chk Chk Chk too brought the oomph. Singer Nic Offer scampered over a sea of photographers, climbed a security gate and joined the crowd as the band jammed out a mix of old stuff and newbies from Strange Weather, Isn’t It?—its recent release. Oh, and Offer’s signature dance moves have achieved new and impressive heights.
Still, the two bands delivered the highest-energy sets of the day. The following are their post-game interviews:Five questions with Chk Chk Chk’s Nic Offer:
Was FYF really the first time you’ve been on the same bill as Kevin Seconds? Either way, it’s in a way a strange uniting of former Loft/Cattle Club/Capitol Garage scenes, yeah? Or has this Sacto rivalry of lore simply been blown out of proportion over the years?
I’m pretty sure FYF was the first time we played with Kevin Seconds, though it’s possible we could have done something with one of his bands. As far as I can remember, I don’t think we ever really had a problem with each other.
I don’t really know what people say about The Loft vs. Cattle Club days, so I don’t know if they’re blown out of proportion. If they seem that way, it’s only because the rivalry was ultimately so silly, but at the time it seemed like a huge deal to us. I think at the time we felt like we had free rein to act like dicks under the blanket of “Oh, we’re the punks.” Sometimes I feel bad about that, but at the same time I’m glad that we separated ourselves and built our own thing. A lot of really special things came out of The Loft that would not have happened the same way at all if we had been playing shows at the Cattle Club. But the Cattle Club did their thing as well, and I saw a lot of great bands there as a kid, which I’m totally thankful for.
I don’t think a lot of Sacto people have seen Chk Chk Chk play “arena-rock style,” à la what I witnessed this past Saturday in Chinatown. What do you prefer: the big crowds or the packed-in DIY show, such as at BrickHouse Gallery or The Loft?
I’ll tell you the truth, it’s an absolute blast to play a huge festival, but I know it’s better to see us at a small place. They’re both fun in different ways, and I’m actually kinda glad that it’s not all one or the other. Obviously if I had to pick one, I’d pick the small shows. Maybe that sounds corny, but that’s the truth, and anyone who has played both types of shows will tell you so.
Tell me about the genesis of your dance moves. Did you grow up moving the feet? What inspires your boogie?
Danceteria, One Edge Up, and the Amazon—I used to go to the new wave/progressive dance clubs, and that’s where I learned whatever it is I know. Oh, wait, I guess I did take a break-dancing class when I was 11 at the Rancho Cordova Community Center. Yeah, I think that did probably teach me something I may not have learned otherwise. Kids should take those kinds of classes.
FYF was a good opportunity to catch a variety of rock bands and sort of formulate ideas on the so-called “state of indie music.” Do you have any observations/opinions/suggestions?
Oh, geez, I’ve got opinions forever on the state of indie music, don’t get me started. I thought it was a great bill, and I was proud to play with a lot of those bands. If that’s the representative of the current state of indie rock, then it’s not too shabby.
Aside from friends and family, what place/thing do you miss most about Sacto, if anything, when you are away?
Five questions with 7Seconds’ Kevin Seconds:
FYF was a total clusterfuck letdown, yeah? You play all over the world—did you see FYF as a disorganized mess or the usual?
I didn’t think it was a letdown, but then again I wasn’t a paying concertgoer, and I heard from several friends who were that it was a pretty crappy deal. My friend was on the guest list and was forced to wait so long, she ended up bailing without seeing the show. There were definitely parts of it that seemed really disorganized, but these festivals usually have an element of that.
Was this the first time former Sacto band Chk Chk Chk and 7Seconds have played on the same bill?
Yes. I don’t think we even ever played with the Yah Mos back in the day, although we may have once at the Cattle Club. I yelled at Nic once, so I don’t think he likes me.
There was a passion and energy to your set that was completely absent during most other bands I saw at FYF; what is it about hardcore music that gets the juices flowing?
It’s what we’ve done since all of us [7Seconds guys] were teenagers, and still [do], even after adulthood, family, jobs, setbacks, etc. It sometimes is the one thing that stays true and good and life affirming.
Politics and indie rock don’t seem to mix. But during your set, you make a point to call out bullshit like Glenn Beck and Sarah Palin. Does it bother you that most music lovers these days are politically indifferent?
It does, but that doesn’t stop me from being a big mouth and saying what I have to say on the issue. I don’t remember being as apathetic about things going on in this country, and the world in general, as some young [kids] seem to be these days. I don’t get how people can feel disconnected from it all and still function.
As you mentioned, this was a strange festival for 7Seconds to play at (e.g., a lot of bands you’d never heard of, etc.) What are your observations regarding the state of indie music?
I was happy to see Ted Leo and the Mountain Goats. I’m a big fan of both. But honestly, I think I may officially be too old to “get it” when it comes to what is considered “indie rock” these days. I don’t hear much rock in it. Kind of like how I don’t hear much core in new hardcore. I’m still stuck on the idea that indie rock is more like Superchunk, Knapsack and the Spinanes than the stuff I’m hearing now.