When I was 17 years old I learned a pretty neat trick. It turns out Jagermeister and Coca Cola are pretty much exactly the same color, and a bottle of Jager pours nicely into a 20 oz. Coke bottle. That’s what I did in the parking lot at the Lakewood Amphitheater outside of Atlanta, Georgia before heading into the 2002 Vans Warped Tour.
Beyond that, I really can’t tell you a lot of specifics about that day or who all played (I went too Warped Tour again the next year, and I’ve seen a lot of those same bands play at different times in my life, so things kind of blur together). But I do remember two things:
1) I paid like $12 for a real Coca Cola, one of those 64 ounce fountain drink deals, then I fell asleep under a tree with it sitting next to me and a custodian came by and threw away my Twelve Dollar Coke. This was 2002 and I was in high school, so $12 was a lot of money back in. The festival ticket was only $25.
2) I may have drank some of that 20 oz. “coke” in the parking lot before I stumbled into a rambunctious little mosh pit in front of a small corner stage near all the merch tables. That’s where Madcap was blaring their melodic verses of Bay Area punk rock and I was instantly sucked in. I’m not sure if it was the moshing or the music or maybe a little bit of the Jager, but next thing I know I’m shelling out $10 for their Stand Your Ground album, and I’ve never regretted it.
Madcap, Stand Your Ground (2001):
I’m not really a punk rock historian, but I did a little digging about these guys. Though the band appears to have formed a rough-shod line up as early as 1994, their limelight on the punk rock side stage was pretty short lived following a spurt of releases from 2001-2004. I
‘m not sure if that makes them a one-hit-wonder or just an oddity for people like me who have a sort of live-in-the-moment, flash-pan memory of things that seemed to matter at the time, but it also doesn’t really matter. Stand Your Ground was the only release with singer Alfredo Gonzalez, and their subsequent releases weren’t really my speed.
Evidently Gonzalez went on to form the Plexikill, which according to their Facebook page hasn’t played a show since 2016.
Blanks 77, Killer Blanks (1995-96):
Blanks 77 developed their street cred in the early 1990s and on during a time when punk rock was struggling with a sort of identity crisis post-’80s wave and before pop punk started to redefine the genre — and some might argue that that has come full circle in this foul year of our lord 2023.
Blanks 77’s hard, fast, tongue-and-cheek music is pretty simple and fun, and that’s probably why it stood the test of time. Killer Blanks was their debut album, and it stayed on my sedan’s playlist all through high school and beyond.
They broke up in 2001, and I actually got a “77” tattoo on my right shoulder not long after following the mantra of never getting a tattoo of a band that’s still together. But then they reformed in 2004 and put out another album Gettin’ Blasted, a split with the Parasitix, in 2016. Thankfully the band stuck to their roots, and they’re still playing shows today!
Sublime, Sublime (1996):
Wait, you’ve heard of this band? Crazy. Sublime has long been a household name made synonymous with chill SoCal vibes and counterculture, although I’m pretty sure that now you can buy their t-shirts at Old Navy and their tunes have been so played out on so many 99X stations the world over that it’s hardly palpable.
And that is only a half insult.
The band is so well-known and so played out because they’re that freakin’ good. And so what if they’re sell outs? We can’t all be the Blanks 77s of the world. With that said, I’ve heard these tracks so many times in my life I can’t really stomach another run through of this album. But recently I came across this Lana Del Rey cover of “Doin Time,” which is at least refreshing enough to make me give ’em another listen.
(If you, personally, still can’t get enough, check out the Frankenstein reincarnation of Sublime with Rome.)
Crass, Feeding of the 5000 (1978):
Anarcho art-punk rockers Crass have long held a cult collective status across several genres and continents. Tattered Crass shirts are a tired staples in many punk rock wardrobes, whether the band actually likes it or not.
Their music certainly didn’t introduce anarchist ideas into the punk sect, but their proliferation and unique sounds certainly helped cement them firmly in many people’s punk rock identity. Feeding of the 5000 was their debut, and it certainly takes an appreciation of avant garde noise rock to make it through the full recording. But if nothing else, consider it a lesson in art history.