Tuesday, February 3, 2015


The Hof-Brau was a dive bar in downtown Oakland on Broadway and Grand Street. Mike Avilez of Oppressed Logic was booking shows there, and I believe Marcus da Anarchist and Russell Wordburger were helping with the PA and general setup. I’d been to one or two shows there before this one, but it seemed like things picked up for a little bit when Gilman closed down for a month to undergo earthquake retrofitting. I have no idea if the Hof-Brau’s shows really were all ages, or how I was able to convince my mom to let me go to shows there. Shows at the Hof-Brau took place in a small upstairs room that was as bad of a setup as I’ve ever seen. For one, the stairs were quite steep. I can imagine that hauling equipment up and down was something of a task. There were times when I thought the floor might collapse, sending the show crashing into the bar downstairs…or that some wayward circle-pitter would go careening through the window. Neither incident happened, fortunately.

Both the Criminals and Blackfork were relatively new bands at this time. New Blackfork drummer Jim Nastic had to pull double duty and play with the Criminals because their drummer Ross hadn’t shown up for some reason. The Criminals’ lineup then included a second vocalist; a young lady named Claudia Bitter who had previously been in the Flatulents. You couldn’t help but make Blatz comparisons, nor could you help but heckle Jesse about it. He gave as good as he got, though. In between songs, Jesse was trying to bait one Aaron Insurgent into a fight, which didn’t quite work out. Apparently, Aaron and some of his fellow Insurgents—a notorious group of drunk punks who morphed into the BP Psychos—had been ejected from Gilman for drunken shenanigans some weeks prior. Since the Hof-Brau was in their neighborhood, they went there for shows all the time, which Jesse was none too pleased about. Blackfork had improved considerably since I’d last seen them. Shortly after this gig, they began issuing some great trashy-sounding demos that are really the best recorded representations of them as a band.

S.M.D. were “Strong Mexican Drunks” from East LA and unleashed a barrage of tough and fast hardcore that got people moving. I was one of those people…at least until I slipped on a patch of spilled beer and literally did the splits in the process. A guy named Ducky—his most recent “contribution” to the scene was slashing open the face of Amyl Nitrate from NYC’s Spider Cunts at a party in 1999—grabbed me and pulled me out of the pit before I got trampled. S.M.D. is still around to this day, occasionally visiting the Bay Area and holding down the fort in their hometown. This was the first time I saw them.

FLYER/SHOW: Mike Avilez.