Tuesday, February 24, 2009

South County Hardcore

i asked Blank to write something about St. Edwards to go along with Jon's piece, or maybe about the Hurricane Katrina Benefit show he put on at Saddleback College. What i got was the first installment of blank History of South County Hardcore:

South County Hardcore 2001-2006; Part 1

South County to me was anything south of the Irvine Y (where the 5 and 405 meet), all the way down to the end of San Celemente before the development stops for the power plant and Camp Pendleton.

I entered into the scene in the latter part of my sophomore year of high school and left it by the time I transferred out of community college and moved out of Orange County. I went to Dana Hills High School which for the most part was the heart of hardcore and Straight Edge for South County. Today the scene I think in many ways still remains relevant in Dana Point or at least at the high school, although it spread pretty strongly south into San Clemente and inland into Aliso and Mission Viejo starting in 2000.

During the time I was around and from the history lessons given to me from older members of the scene South County was pretty much always the step sister to the greater OC scene, mainly cause we never had a true venue, or a good record store, or any decent touring bands. If South County was known for anything, it was for causing trouble and being annoying on message boards. Steps (a venue before my time) was around in Capo Beach for a very short period in the latter part of the mid 90's. They had some shows (including Blink 182 before they hit KROQ), but to many of us it was just folklore. Underdog Records, in Laguna, was the closest thing we had to a record store, but it didn't really fully serve the local scene as much as say Bionic did for Huntington. Underdog was owned by one of the dudes from the local punk act The Stitches and looking back now we might have been better off hanging around there and listening to more Black Flag, Bad Brains, and Adolescents and less metal. They never held an in-store that I could remember, and the local hardcore scene (which was more metalcore than punk at the time) and the local punk scene never truly got together. Underdog Records closed a couple of years ago along with Bionic. It appears as if the digital age has not been so kind to the business. South County's best contribution to the scene was a late night hippie sea food taco bar in Laguna called Taco Loco. Just around the corner from a Hare Krishna temple and down the block from the famous Laguna Tattoo, Taco Loco served up late night vegan friendly items to Straight Edge kids, all while playing Reggae music and having images of Mushrooms everywhere. Truly a strange site. We had some history, and some bands, and some relevant people come from the area, but for the most part we didn't know what we were doing and it was more than anything a channel for a lot of teen angst in a very rich conservative area.

They say OC is rich and conservative, but to understand where South County was in the big picture, you had to realize that we were in the suburb of the suburb. In the 70's and 80's Huntington Beach, Costa Mesa, Santa Ana, and Garden Grove had grown too big and diverse for many of the middle class families that occupied Richard Nixon's Orange County. Now lazy surfer towns like Dana Point, Capo Beach, and San Clemente were to be built up going inland with cookie cutter pink houses for as far as the eye could see. To avoid an elaborate anthropological explanation, it isn't difficult to see why the kids of South County were so confused and angry. In my opinion, we were simply the latest case study in the long line of Southern California punk and hardcore. We were punks, primarily composed of middle class teens with nothing to do with their free time, with no outside political interest, that were either cut from the football team or just not in the mood to live the life MTV told us to. The decline of western civilization, right?

To say it was all white and upper middle class wouldn't be true though. In the scene there were a lot of kids from broken homes who were poorer and just didn't have the means to keep up with their millionaire class mates. And something that always stands out to me looking back on the kids was no matter where you went in South County, Latino hardcore kids were always prevalent. The neighborhoods of La Zanja, The Village, and Harbor Lane (now notoriously know for the gang injunctions by the OC Sheriffs department) were where a lot of hardcore kids were from and hungout. The crew of Straight Edge kids who came before me, The Lords, along with kids throughout the OC scene picked up on some of the Latino fashion, and started wearing Ben Davis pants and shirts, which were banned from schools in the area. On the other side, the younger Latino kids became enamored with hardcore shirts, shows, and all that came with it. I don't want to paint a picture that there was complete racial harmony in the scene, but for the period I was around, Latinos made up a large part of hardcore diaspora.

Given the fact that we were the only scene that didn't have a venue (the Inland Empire had The Showcase in Corona, Central County had Chain Reaction in Anaheim, and San Diego had The Che Cafe on UCSD's campus), it would be up to us to come up with spots to put on shows. We tried community centers, shitty bars run by sketchy people, churches, one time we even did a show at Traveland USA (a giant RV dealership in Irvine). Anytime we were able to convince someone to let us put on a show, the kids would show up, in hoards...



  1. and then we took the whole town of salinas by storm and commandeered all police and military vehicles in order bring jim dandy the mosh. those fuckers in salinas remembered me though and they gave me a DUI like 4 months ago. fuckers.

    pat ryan

  2. remember when we killed everyone that worked at hoage barmicheal's? i do.

    pat ryan

  3. Right before they broke up - Sky Came Falling in a pizzeria...

  4. Right before they broke up - Sky Came Falling in a pizzeria...