Every so often you get a press release you just cannot refuse to cover. And then there are the memorable ones. 'You're invited to join PENNYWISE on a trip to Catalina Island for a private waterfront show in connection with the release of their new CD THE FUSE.'
I have been a fan of Pennywise since the early 90's, and I am one of the few Southern Californians to have never visited our beautiful Catalina Island. I was blown away! On Thursday morning, a few hundred lucky KROQ (L.A.'s modern rock station) winners hopped on a Long Beach cruise for a two hour trip to the Island. With free booze courtesy of Red Bull and a nice lunch to boost us up, we were slowly woken up. You could really tell this was a crowd of rockers who are used to getting up at noon, and not even the booze was waking us up. Although the Red Bull jet skis that were accompanying us in the trip for entertainment, did a great job at bathing anyone who dared to stand next to them.
Upon arrival to Catalina, the crowd dispersed - there was nobody to tell us when to be where, but we just kept walking past the magical town full of stores and restaurants, easily stumbling upon where the concert was going to take place. It was at Descanso Beach, a privately owned beach and resort, which, as it turns out, is owned by the father of a huge Pennywise fan.
The stage was beautifully set up right behind the crystal clear waters; with a fleet of boats in the background. There was food, shops and a beer tent. As you might expect from the punk rebels, most of the people in attendance migrated to the beer garden ignoring the fresh waters ready to be bathed on. I bought myself a towel, put the camera away and jumped in! I had enough vodka to keep myself away.
It was too great a time, and I don't think I can ever review another show objectively again; how can anything compare to listening to live music on a beautiful sunny day while you are bathing in the waters of a beautiful island?
Death by Stereo rocked the house; this band has great guitar power, and an energy that can only be compared to the great Pennywise. The band seems to get heavier every time, fusing metal and punk together with thunderous force - yet remaining altogether punk at the same time. There are not many punk bands out there who have so much energy and precision, and you can tell their popularity is increasing by the reception of the crowd. This was not your typical punk rock crowd - it was a mix of radio show winners and island tourists; yet many of them were long time fans of Death by Stereo and I could definitely see why.
In between bands I was running over to the water, so when Pennywise came on, I quicky dried myself up and ran over to take pictures. Boy, what a great band they are. You can feel the rush of these guys - the crowd immediately started a large mosh pit - Jim Lindberg sang his ass off moving around like a 20 year old, while Fletcher and the rest of the guys musically backed him up with just as much intensity. The crowd joined in to sing along and mosh like the good old days when punk was not pop.
About six songs into the set, when the band started to sing "Fuck Authority," the power suddenly went out. Maybe it was the police? A minute later it was fixed, and then it went out again. It is at this point that the fans got together and started singing, whoa, oh oh! Which is of course, the popular Pennywise anthem. The band decided to say, "fuck it," and went on to play the song acoustic style. It only worked as good as it did because Byron McMackin's drumming skills rocked everyone out, even at its low sound. The band finally fixed their sound and decided to cut the set short. By the time they got to the "Bro Hymn" the crowd was already really united - some of us had journeyed since the early morning, and it was all coming down to its glorious end.
On the way back half the people were passed out and half the people were ready to party! We did not have any more booze, but somehow the way back felt way more lively than noon time - we had all gained new friends and I think most people were surprised at how great a time we all had together. We all smiled and waved each other good bye, ever so grateful for how nice we were treated by Pennywise's publicists and friends. Truly a memorable event - the people, the staff and the bands each making it better and better.
The Fuse is a great summary of this unique experience - the guys from Pennywise always manage to surprise you with anthemic punk rock that brings us all together for a ride full of energy and hope - in times that are tough and politically hopeless, there is always a band like Pennywise and a place like Catalina to keep it rocking!