another installment from Blank. this time he delves into the world of the phenomenon known as MATOE
South County Hardcore 2001-2006 ; Part 2
When Koos shut down and the internet hit, a lot of stuff changed. Koos was a DIY non profit run by some art kids, and was a completely volunteer driven space. Shows were always $5, and I believe they paid the bands pretty well. The venue itself was on Main St. in downtown Santa Ana, in a 1 bedroom house. There was no stage, and you were always packed in very tight. It was where I saw my first few shows. There was an obvious political bent about the place, but it wasn't shoved down your throat. It was a community center used as an art outlet for a lot of kids who had nowhere else to go, everyone got it. They even let taggers paint the walls in the backyard.
Bands early on like Hurricanrana (some of the Donnybrook guys), Bleeding Through, Wrench, Scars of Tomorrow, and Over My Dead Body would play. It was like we saw the same show every weekend, but it didn't get boring. Looking back now bands like Atreyu and Avenged Sevenfold were also playing there and at some of those shows, before they it the Billboard Hot 100. Its funny to think about how they were never really liked in that scene, and never had much of a following. The South County band that would usually play was Matoe. When people saw Matoe, they weren't really sure if they should laugh or join in. Matoe had a pirate theme, and would be in full pirate costume. The crowd would show up dressed the same, and it became some weird ass cult following kinda thing. Matoe held this gimmick for a good while. They tried dropping it and getting serious about their music (which wasn't bad), but it never got going and the gimmick always held a warm spot in South Counties heart.
Finally around 2003, Matoe was done and was going to call it quits. They decided to one more show by this time with the pirate theme again. By that time the scene had changed. Everyone had cell phones, everyone had the internet, Napster was being used to get hardcore around, and Koos was gone. With Koos gone, Chain Reaction and Showcase became dominated by 4 or 5 band tours leaving little room for the local scene. We had to resort to "pay to play" bars like Hogue Barmichaels in Irvine which became notorious for ripping kids off and having a bad staff. Shit really hit the fan during Matoe's last show, ironically during their last song. Kids were all getting rowdy, and something happened between one of the bouncers and one of the kids and the next thing you knew, someone in the band was getting pushed by one of the club staff people. People jumped on the bouncers back, and It spilled out in the parking lot where it became a stand off between a ton of kids and five big security guards. Eventually the security guards seeing how bad they were out numbered, retreated back into the venue and locked the doors. The show was over. Half the crowd was laughing, and half the crowd that actually got into it with the security guards were pissed off. Then out of nowhere some girl threw a brick through the front door of the place, and needless to say you never really saw a good show there again. A police helicoper was up in the air real quick, and everyone retreated to Taco Loco.
With no places left to play, we resorted to finding non venues. A drummer in one of the local bands had an idea. His dad owned a bee removal pesticide company or something, and he had the keys to the companies storage space in the industrial part of Mission Viejo. Some shows went down there but eventually, the space that came to be known as The Pesticide got shut down. I remember having to have 200 kids disappear from the site one time with 5 minutes notice, because the dad was coming to pick something up from the storage space. Sitting in Taco Bell across the center, with 200 kids, we realized the spot just wasn't going to work out. Still looking for places to put on a show we resorted to approaching some of the Youth Groups of local Churches. We knew that the Churches occasionally put on shows with Christian pop punk bands and some Christian hardcore bands, so if we got one or two Christian bands on the bill, we could just pretend like the whole thing was one big Christian hardcore show. I remembered hearing a story of 18 Visions playing in Capo Beach at some church on a show with Unashamed (a popular Christian hardcore band that was pretty accepted in the mainstream hardcore scene in the late 90's) so we figured it may be worth a shot. This never truly worked. It wasn't so much that the Churches were against the music, but were more worried of what the kids would do once the music started.