Saturday, December 7, 2013

Top gig: Dead Kennedys, Minor Threat, MDC, Zero Boys, The Detonators -- 1982 at Alpine Village, Torrance, CA

From the TSHIT collection.

The Barn at Alpine Village in 2015. (Ed Nystrom photo)

By Andy

You couldn't have scripted a more stellar Saturday -- or any day for that matter.

Like most summer days of my youth, July 3, 1982 featured a bodysurfing session at the beach, this time in South Redondo with a few pals.

As the waves rolled in over the several-hour session that afternoon, I took my share of nice rides and my body took a pounding copious times, which meant that I was getting the full experience of tangling with the ocean.

Hanging out at the beach was a crucial part of our youth and we never wanted those long days under the sun to end. However, sometimes those days were time-killers as we were filled with anxiety -- nearly jumping out of our skin -- thinking about what the night would bring.

And, oh what a night (thanks Four Seasons) we had in store.

We were finally -- finally! -- going to see Minor Threat, our favorite hardcore punk unit from Washington, DC. They had canceled a previous tour and broken up, but they were back in full force to give the Los Angeles area a dose of ferocious, in-your-face tunes from the Nation's Capitol. We were primed, to say the least.

And, oh yeah, the Dead Kennedys, MDC, Zero Boys and The Detonators were also on the bill. Talk about a blockbuster!

My brother Ed, myself and a few others piled into our yellow Gremlin for the quick ride from our North Redondo home to Torrance, home of the sprawling German shopping bourg Alpine Village, which featured The Barn, our gig spot for the evening.

We knew this place for its baseball batting cages (I once broke an aluminum bat while connecting on a 90 mph pitch there in my senior year of high school) and its cheesy commercials that ran at halftime of the "Soccer Made in Germany" broadcasts on UHF TV. Welshman Toby Charles announced those games, and we always loved the way he pronounced teams like Borussia Monchengladbach and his sayings, like, "He takes another bite of the cherry!" when the player scored a rebound goal. (Cat and I ventured to Germany last April to witness a Monchengladbach match in person -- a dream come true, but I digress...)

Our punk orators on this night would be Jello Biafra, Ian MacKaye, Dave Dictor (MDC), Paul "Z" Mahern (Zero Boys) and Mike Mooney (The Detonators).

Key comments before the bands began had to be, "How the fuck did they get this gig here?" .... and "Who the fuck cares." Right?

So, we had Redondo Beachers The Detonators opening and they tore through songs off their walloping, Stiff Little Fingers-like "Emergency Broadcast Systems" LP. Bassist Bruce Hartnell would take over vocals a year or two later and would act as a mentor of sorts to me during my band Sorex's run.

Next up were the Zero Boys from Indianapolis, Ind., a fantastic, raging punk-pop band that we heard on Maximum RocknRoll's radio show. "New Generation" was the tune we knew and we pushed our way up front to sing along with Paul Z, who I remember sporting black-and-white checkered slip-on Vans -- fuckin' Spicoli-style, man.

Zero Boys setlist from the TSHIT collection.

MDC were new to us, but it didn't take long for baldheaded Dictor and crew to get the crowd moving with tunes like "John Wayne Was a Nazi," "Corporate Deathburger," "Dick for Brains" and many others from that crucial first LP. I remember some pretty violent slamdancing going on during that set, but our friend Mark managed to sludge his way up front to take some pics. (I don't have access to them now, but I recall them looking cool.)

Minor Threat tore it up, of course. However, this was a rare occurrence when I couldn't weasel my way up front because there were so many people there and no openings for me to make it to the promised land. I watched from the middle of the crowd and dug it, but was also a bit pissed that I couldn't get the full effect of their tunes from the front. Oh, well, but that wasn't the end of the Minor Threat road for me as I saw them three more times on that tour in San Diego, the Valley and San Pedro. Those intimate gigs are highlights of my punk-rock life, for sure.

I've never been a huge DKs fan aside from the first LP, but Jello and his boys always satisfy live. Killer musicianship on stage and pure chaos in the crowd is what you get, and how can you not be stoked on that? I distinctly remember Jello diving into the crowd during one song, and as he was being carried by the sweaty throng, he never missed a word as he passionately sang into the microphone. A job well done.

A few years later, my friend Winston and I hit up The Barn to watch an early morning World Cup soccer match with the local German men. It was an interesting scene as we sat in a small room tucked away upstairs, eyeing the TV and drinking bottled beers.

After the match, I walked around the place and stood near the front of the stage and recalled that evening when Minor Threat came to town.

Alpine Village in 2015. (All Ed Nystrom photos)


  1. That's an early eighties dream show right there!

  2. Totally, Dangerclose! What's your top gig of all time?

  3. Ah, haha, killer ! I was there :)
    Here's the new link by the way:
    I also do a radio show, and am one of the most knowledgeable old school guys out there, so be glad to help you guys in any way. oldschoolmike

  4. This comment has been removed by the author.

  5. I was there that night. I was also at dancing waters when a Henry and a few other guys from Black Flag got up and did a couple songs with Minor Threat.

  6. That Dancing Waters gig was epic! I think I've got permanent bruises from that one from the wild, up-front action. Flag -- with Biscuits on drums! - - ripped through a brief set before MT. Classic.