By Nathan Sano
Through the endless cloud of hairspray, denim and the occasional crop dusting lies a paradise for local skaters, punks and music lovers alike. For the rest of us, it’s something adjacent to a welcome fever dream.
This fabled haven is none other than Rampart Skate Park. A place where the restless can indulge in both kickflips and mosh pits. Though I wouldn’t say it’s a relaxing experience having to dodge flying skateboards while you’re trying to bop around to some music, I will say it’s quite fitting for the genres common at the venue.
The show in all its hardcore glory was organized in support of a new LP release, Skate Sessions VOL 1, a compilation including tracks by local bands WarMoth, The Bored Again, Imperial Destructo, RACKET, FOIL, Biomass and Dead Drift. In conjunction with these local legends are songs from Scythe, of Mendocino, and War of Knives, from Oakland.
From what I could tell based on the numerous conversations I was able to eavesdrop on, most people were there to see FOIL and War Moth; for good reason, too. If you haven’t had the opportunity to listen to these guys or make it out to one of their shows, I highly encourage you to dip your toe into their Bandcamp discography.
At the show, there were songs about drug addiction, songs about the pigs, songs about hating your job, etc. These are aspects of mainstream culture that fuels the punk scene and bring so many to it, but it isn’t often you get to see a spectacle such as this LP release.
I guess I couldn’t say if it was the beer or just the nature of the music itself, but after a while, these great ballads of an anti-capitalist alternative started to blend together and became an incredibly distorted roar of noise that lit the revolutionary fire lying dormant within my gut. Most of what these bands were dishing out is exactly what one would expect and hope to hear at a punk show.
As the show went on and the crowd grew bigger, I began to notice a diverse mix of people both young and old. The show was of course all ages but I was quite taken aback when kids no older than twelve were thrashing around in the mosh pit.
I was just noticing the young average age of the crowd when a thought dawned on me. Punk rock as a genre, and the punk scene in general, haven’t really undergone any massive changes in twenty or so years. I suppose whether or not that’s true is relative, but my sentiments were confirmed by Travis Bille, guitarist and singer of the band Dead Drift, whom I was lucky enough to have a very lengthy conversation with.
“It’s for blowing off steam and having fun,” Bille said. “It’s stripped down, and there’s no fucking bullshit. That’s what I love. There’s so much bullshit everywhere and for me it’s raw.”
Change in one form or another is usually a component of survival for any existing medium, yet punk somehow seems to transcend that need to change due to the nature of what it is and what it’s always stood for. There is something about its raw flavor and aggressive behavior that takes you away from the bullshit. When those heavy riffs blow out your ears and those throaty vocals vibrate your insides, you kind of melt away into the crowd and become part of a larger community of people who all want the same thing – to express their humanity in the rawest way possible.