Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Grandma's Boy vs. Throwdown vs. Reno

sometimes, rarely, Keith Barney is right. in this case, its his words "dont lose sight" that ring in my ears.

i've lost sight.

we started this blog to tell stories. cool/ funny/ random stories about punk and hardcore and music and not just what rare bootlegs we've found to download.

my friend Dan spent some time playing guitar in Scars Of Tomorrow before he became an awesome recording dude and masterminding in Teenagers From Outerspace. he sent me his take on some sketchy shit that went down in Reno. its unedited, enjoy the story.

heres dan, to the right of Milford

The Throwdown/Reno Debacle

Let's set the scene here (so to speak)... It's 2004. Orange County Hardcore bands are bigger than ever. Dave Peters and Keith Barney had traded positions within Throwdown, with Keith moving to guitar and Dave making his formal vocal debut for Throwdown on 2003's Haymaker. By 2004 Haymaker was a pretty resounding success for the band and for Trustkill Records (whom they had joined the ranks of after leaving the mentioned-in-a-previous-post-and-now-Sherdog-employed Dave Mandel's Indecision Records). Dave's transition to vocalist was a relatively smooth one, and the backlash seemed relatively small. I don't think Jav and I will ever agree with who we thought had the “better voice”, but these matters are important when it comes to stupid debates that will go nowhere.
Throwdown was not the only band going through changes at the time. 2004 was kind of a weird time for the Orange County and LA scenes. Nearly every band was going through member changes and name changes on a monthly basis. By this time Hurricanrana was gone and in it's place there was Donnybrook! (More on them later.) Eighteen Visions had put out “Vanity” and the generally pop-influenced “Obsession” was just a few months away. Bleeding Through's “This Is Love, This Is Murderous” had become a massive record, and they had become a huge band in metal. With all these bands sharing members, it was no surprise that there was change in the air, and it's almost as though you could feel the end of that generation looming.
For me, these bands (Throwdown, Taken, Bleeding Through, 18v, Hurricanrana, etc.) were my introduction to what hardcore was. Seeing Throwdown or Bleeding Through at Showcase or Chain Reaction was as normal as high school parties were to all the other kids I went to school with. I finally got to see all my friends I had been waiting all week to meet up with, but didn't get to because they all went to different schools in different cities. I remember going to Showcase alone on my 19th birthday, because I knew I would get to see the friends that I would want to spend my birthday with anyways. That was just how it was then. Shows served as an excuse for me to spend time with the people that I didn't ever get to see otherwise.
So as these bands began to get more exposure and move on to bigger labels with better distro. Bigger venues (I refused to go to that Throwdown/Bleeding Through show at the Glasshouse just based on the sheer size of that fucking venue), bigger tours (Ozzfest?), and inevitably bigger problems, my interests started to change. By this time I had known people like Javier, and Grant from Bionic Cypress, and they would tell me that I would get over what I thought hardcore was, and develop new definitions and tastes. Grant would show me incredible music like Bohren and Der Club of Gore and The Blackheart Procession. Jav would tell me some ridiculous goal he had set for himself, like finishing an entire bottle of gin by 2am while instant messaging all of his friends. These things began to redefine what hardcore was to me. Shows became less important, and the acquaintances and friendships I had made moved beyond the bands. The final nail in what was my “hardcore youth” so to speak occurred in March of 2004 when I accompanied my friends on a trip up to Reno to see Throwdown, Donnybrook!, Bound In Blood, and Fate Thirteen at the final show at the Arkaik.
I wasn't really the roadtrip type. I didn't really like long drives, and I found it relatively hard to believe that any hardcore show was worth more than a two hour drive. Living on the border of LA and Orange County had spoiled me. Being able to get to any LA, OC, or IE venue in a half hour or so basically rendered me lazy when it came to going to hardcore shows. Most of the bands I wanted to see were coming through here and playing a couple of shows anyways, so why the hell would I want to drive hours and hours to go see a band I could see at home? Well for whatever god-awful reason, I decided to take this trip to Reno with my friends JD Kramer and Kevin Fifield. We went up to Reno with the Bound In Blood dudes, Gabe, Fick, Leib, and Graham. Previously, I had filled in for Bound In Blood on guitar, and at this time Kevin had taken over guitar duties for me. This would lead to a long and boringly-storied history of Kevin and I literally sharing everything. Bands, girls, burritos, jobs... But that shit would be even more of a waste of your time to read than this has been so far.
So anyways, we head up to Reno on what is one of the most ridiculous and pointless drives ever. Reno is a shithole, and I don't care if I ever go back. The best thing that has ever happened in Reno was the fact that I bowled there once. And I don't even think I cracked 100. So fuck that place. The SECOND best thing that ever happened in Reno was what happened after the Throwdown show.
We got to Arkaik early and loaded in. Knowing that this was the last show there, we expected a decent crowd, and given Throwdown's larger sature due to Haymaker's success, we had no doubts that it was going to be a good night. Local bands started the night and the place was already packed. I believe Armed For Battle and Cherish played first and second. The Southern California bands began to play and things began to kick up a bit. I believe Fate Thirteen went on, then Donnybrook!, then Bound In Blood, then Throwdown. At one point I was out in front talking to the door-girl (being sketchy) and I distinctly remember talking about how hot it was inside. The girl went on to tell me that they were way over capacity, and she was hoping the cops didn't get called because they would shut down the show. Before I knew it though, Throwdown was playing Don't Lose Sight and all of us California kids were losing our minds. By this time JD had already sold out, but it didn't matter, we all sang together and had a blast. The crowd was non-violent and there didn't seem to be any bad blood in the air.

After Throwdown's set we loaded up all of the gear and got ready to take off. Something weird was going on out front, and I didn't really pay much attention to it. A few minutes later I made my way to the front and there was a decent sized crowd out there yelling into the main entrance door. Just inside the entrance door I could see Dave Peters yelling back at the kids outside. Some of the kids had crowbars and they were hitting them against the wall telling Dave to come out. Dave was basically responding with common sense answers and asking them why he would want to come out if he knew he was just going to get hit with a crowbar (a reasonable response). The kids were yelling something about Throwdown stealing money from the other bands, and Dave was trying to respond with proper answers, but to no avail. By this time some unnamed members of one of the Southern California bands had found out about what was going on and stepped in front of the entrance, blocking the kids from getting at Dave. The kids weren't trying to hurt them though because their supposed “beef” was with Throwdown. The bodyguards from the other Southern California band instructed all of the kids to get the fuck back and/or leave. If anyone wanted to stay and talk, then they could, but no one was going to touch Dave. Some of the Reno kids challenged these guys and asked why 4 dudes who were clearly out-numbered would talk to kids they didn't know, in a town they weren't from, that way. The bodyguards told the Reno kids that if they tried anything, bad things were going to happen. Then they proceeded to flash a gun at the Reno kids to show how serious they were. The Reno kids did not take this well and became even more heated. Words were exchanged and we feared the worst was going to happen. Enter Dave Peters. Dave, obviously a generally level-headed dude, began to talk to what seemed to be the head Reno Kid with the bodyguards keeping the crowd in check. The kid accused Dave and the rest of Throwdown of stealing money from the Reno bands and threatened to get it back by beating the shit out of him with crowbars. Dave explained what had really happened to them: The promoter told Dave that the venue was NOT sold out (see my comment about what the door-girl said a few paragraphs up) and that the door did not make enough money to pay ANY of the bands from California except for Throwdown, but he would have to short Throwdown some of the money. Dave knew the promoter was full of shit, so he called him out on it. The story from there is a little foggy, but it seemed as though the promoter then went to each Reno band and told them that he could not afford to pay them because Throwdown demanded ALL of the money. So basically this promoter was RIPPING OFF the Reno bands AND the California bands. Dave explained that the Reno kids should be going after the sketchy promoter, and not them. And that all he asked of the promoter was for money to pay the bands who had driven all the way out to Reno from California. The promoter would not even give the California bands gas money, although the venue was clearly sold out, and the promoter made a killing. After Dave explained the situation the kid relaxed a little bit and the crowd began to disperse. Dave reached out to shake the kid's hand and the kid just walked away. If I remember correctly, this was the end of the threat, but we knew someone had called the cops once the gun was shown, so we had to get out of there. At one point I remember walking with one of the members of the band that stepped up to guard Dave, and him telling me that the member with the gun had ditched it in a trash can. Eventually the cops found the gun and arrested the band-member and took him to jail.
Fast-forward to an hour or so later. We are at a motel room near the venue. Throwdown had invited all the bands back to their motel room where I remember Biggie sitting on a bed getting money together to pay each California band out of Throwdown's own pockets to make sure they got gas money to get home. They also offered their motel room to anyone who wanted to stay, because they were going to leave once the other band's member was released from jail to go straight home. After this we end up at a Denny's getting some food and waiting for the phone call when this guy would get released. One of the bodyguard band's members gave me a plate of pancakes. I was pretty happy about this. Then the phone call came and everyone went their separate ways.
When JD, Kevin, and I made our way back to the motel, the rest of the Bound In Blood dudes contemplated whether they should stay the night, or leave. Seeing as two separate cars were taken, the decision was made that one car would leave that night, and the other would stay until the next day. JD, Kev, and I decided to stay with Graham and Fick (I believe), while the rest of the band went home that night. The next morning we got our shit together and went to Fick's truck to head home. Somehow between that night and the morning the truck decided to die, and none of us had any clue what to do or how we were going to get home. It was a Sunday morning, and they could not get the car fixed until Monday or Tuesday, depending on when they could get the part in. The idea of spending even one more day in Reno sounded like pure fucking torture, so JD, Kev, and I decided to tough-it-the-fuck-out and Greyhound it home.
After looking at the prices we figured out that it would be sixty dollars each to take a 16 hour bus-ride back to Anaheim. The reason it was going to take so long was due to lay-overs and changes between buses, but it was necessary, because we all had work on Monday morning. When the trip started it wasn't that bad. The fact that there were three of us sucked, because it meant one person would have to sit with a stranger at all times. That was bullshit after a while. At one point I remember stopping around 2am at some fuckhole bus stop in the middle of nowhere and eating the WORST grilled cheese ever. How you fuck up a grilled cheese, I don't know. All of the bathrooms were fucking travesties as well. About midway through the trip we got on our final bus. This was going to suck immensely because the only bus going that direction was headed straight to Tijuana. Of course. So all of the scum bag fucking shitheads that you would imagine going to TJ were surrounding us. Babies crying. Kids throwing up. And of course this was when it was my turn to sit alone on the bus with some fucked up stranger. And the sketchiest dude ever sat next to me in a HUGE snow jacket that was poofing onto my side of the seat non-stop. I was fucking bummed.
So around 4am we arrive in an LA bus stop right by Skid Row (not the band). We decide to call my grandmother then and have her pick us up from here because we can't deal with another minute on that fucking bus. So she comes to pick us up in LA instead of Anaheim. On the way to the station she got lost and started calling me crying and freaking out because she was “surrounded by hookers and homeless people”. Eventually, she found us and took us home. FUCKING FINALLY HOME. I laid down in bed and never felt better/worse. I slept for two hours and then got up and went to work at Mervyn's. After spending two hours there I told them I was sick and fucked off and went back home to shower and sleep.
Looking back on this trip that now happened five years ago I realize that this was what really changed my mind about what hardcore was to me. Before this it was about having a “good time”, hanging out with friends, and just enjoying the people that surrounded me when I got to see them at shows. After the trip I realized that I had grown out of that. The trip was fucking terrible. And I didn't want to see what I saw in Reno ever again. I'm not cut out for that shit. I realized that when it came to hardcore, I no longer needed to be around the venues anymore. I could enjoy the people that I knew, and explore what I thought was great about it, in a much different way. I didn't need to rely on the scene to keep me entertained anymore, because it wasn't entertaining. Seeing people in the bands that I looked up to threatened with crowbars was not very much fun. Watching the Throwdown dude's pay the bands out of their pocket because sketchy fuck promoters were screwing bands was not very much fun. And when laying back down in my own bed after spending 2 days with a bunch of my best friends is the BEST part of my trip, it was time for me to change my mindset on this scene that had been such a big part of my life.
Call it jaded. Call it what you want. But when it came down to it, I decided that I didn't want things like what happened in Reno to re-define what hardcore was for me. I still wanted to hang on to that previous (more naïve) version of what this music and scene meant to me. So here I am. And for the first time in a long time, tonight (June 6th, 2009) five years after that Throwdown show in Reno, at the Disembodied show at Chain Reaction, I thanked myself for never forgetting what it was like to be a young fool involved with this ridiculous kind of music. I felt young again. And I have the king of jaded fucks, Javier Van Huss, to thank for it. I may have believed over the past 5 years that hardcore had become a bit of a shadow of what it once was. But tonight was a huge reminder of what this meant to me before the Throwdown/Reno debacle. And I'm glad dudes like Jav allowed me to once again change my view on what hardcore is.

Thanks Jav.


1 comment:

  1. Jav, what's up with your boy making his grandmother drive to skid row in LA at 4am to pick him up? You OC guys are so soft :)