Teenage Alcoholics: Punk Rock in East Los Angeles by Jimmy Alvarado
Originally ran in Razorcake #3, Aug./Sept. 2001
We get to the gig around 9:30 PM, a pack of twelve or thirteen kids with spiked hair, faded denim jackets covered in a chaotic splash of color and band logos. Assorted cases of beer in tow, we walked more than a mile through neighborhoods often hostile to people like us to pay three dollars and stand in a backyard filled to capacity, get drunk, and raise a little hell as our friends line up in varying band formations every half hour or so and tear through their sets. Their efforts are lit by a single lamp strategically placed on the makeshift stage at the back wall of the house. After a little searching, we find the other heads from the neighborhood—who came to the gig in two carloads—in the far corner of the yard with a keg between them.
We are collectively the punks from City Terrace, but we are by no means alone in the backyard. Kids from Montebello, Huntington Park, Highland Park, South Gate, Alhambra, El Sereno, Monterey Park, and other areas have also come out tonight to see the Stains, who are rumored to be making a rare appearance. I make my way through the crowd, can of Bud in hand, place my very scrawny self squarely in front of the stage, and begin heckling the members of Side Effects, who are friends from Whittier.
“You guys are too stupid to play and your drummer is a gimp,” I shout at them through the din of tuning instruments. Behind me, another critic chimes in with, “Go back to Whittier, you has-been scumbags.”
Their singer smiles. “Glad to see you guys, too,” he deadpans into the microphone. Their drummer four-clicks and, as the band begins their first song, the backyard erupts into the sea of ritualized violence we call dancing. Many fall to the ground, but are quickly picked up by watchful friends and relatives. Somewhere in the middle of the set, I make my way back toward the keg, parched, sweaty, and loving every minute of the night. Two bands later, my brother informs me that he’s talked one of the bands into lending us their equipment and that we will be playing after Anti-Social, who are currently onstage. We find Scott, our singer, and make our way back toward the stage. Anti-Social finishes and we tune up the borrowed instruments. Scott introduces us as “just another band from East L.A.” and we begin our set amidst a hail of reciprocated insults from the members of Side Effects and a shower of wasted beer.