It’s not every night you get to see a solid punk rock show at a venue like The Observatory North Park. But When Anti-Flag brings along Leftöver Crack, War On Women, Blackbird Raum, and The Homeless Gospel Choir to San Diego, Friday night becomes Punk Night at The Observatory.
The Homeless Gospel Choir hit the stage to an audience of about 20 people. A total shame really, because the one-man band, also known as Derek played an excellent and charm-filled set. His lyrics were nothing if not relatable and at times embarrassingly honest, and if you think the protest singer bit is tired, rest assured The Homeless Gospel Choir is absolutely refreshing.
Blackbird Raum took the stage next as the venue began to fill up. They did an excellent job of warming up the crowd. I had never heard the band, but clearly I was one of only a few because there were loads of fans singing along to the band’s folk-punk. They were a lot of fun to watch, too. The members alternate on taking the lead on their songs, so their show is anything but boring, even if you’re unfamiliar with their jams. I can’t wait to catch this band again soon.
I was completely floored by co-ed band War On Women. Their message is equally as hard hitting as their music. They’re all about girl power, fighting sexism, and safe spaces, and they’re loud so you can’t pretend you don’t hear them. Frontwoman, Shawna Potter is a powerhouse on stage. Think Buddy Neilsen from Senses Fail, but more graceful. Even Anti-Flag’s Chris #2 couldn’t help himself, and came out to help on “Swagger.” Their lyrics will stop you dead in your tracks if you’re paying attention and it’s really hard not to. Take, “Broken Record” which is full of those unfortunately too familiar misogynistic cat calls and then complete disparages them, it’s RAD. Did you know the band offers free condoms and tampons at their merch table at every show they play? What a time to be alive! We need more bands like War On Women please.
I cannot begin to explain to you how stoked I was for Leftöver Crack. Stza’s bands were a staple in my early punk days and getting to shoot the band, new members and all was incredible. I was a bit taken back by the addition of Kate on vocals on some songs. The girl is packing some serious pipes -it’s no wonder the guys take a step back and let her do her thing when she’s on stage. But the majority of time they were playing hard and fast with hardly any time in between. They even had time to treat the crowd to a couple of Choking Victim’s songs, all with the same response from the crowd –blissful chaos.
Finally Anti-Flag hit the stage like a nuclear bomb. The guys are so full of energy and are so lively that regardless of where you focus your vision there’s something RAD going on. Even drummer, Pat Thetic finds the time to make a bunch of faces while he’s pounding on his drums. As Anti-Flag made their way through their setlist and songs like “Fuck Police Brutality,” “Turncoat,” and “This Machine Kills Fascists” were heard, the energy in the venue only built. A solid and consistent pit formed and a bunch of fans made their way to the stage via crowdsurfing. Someone not familiar with the band might think Anti-Flag’s music is carefree if they judged it by the crowd’s response but quite the opposite is true, Anti-Flag’s message is fully loaded as it has always been. Considering the current sociopolitical climate, Anti-Flag and bands like them are just what we need.