JFA / The Side Eyes / Zig Zags / One Square Mile: Live In Long Beach, CA

  • Marcus Solomon posted
  • Reviews

JFA / The Side Eyes / Zig Zags / One Square Mile

Alex's Bar, Long Beach, CA.  - 12th May 2023

JFA tore it up with a heavy dose of OG skatepunk for all of us aging skateboarders, and everyone else on this side of 21 who happened to be fortunate enough to enjoy a night of superior punk rock at the world famous Alex’s Bar in Long Beach. 

One Square Mile

One Square Mile was onstage when I arrived with my two friends, so I quickly dashed inside because Hector Martinez, of the awesome band Spider, told me not to miss this band. Of course, I went straight to the front of the stage and took a position next to the ever-present photographer Jeff Terranova. Somehow, this guy seems to be at every show possible and I think he knows how to be at two events at the same time. Oh yes, what a great way to start a show by being right up front listening to a fantastic band I had never heard before! It was bassist Todd King that first caught my ear and eye. One Square Mile is definitely a serious punk band, but King’s playing definitely had a strong funkiness about it. I also noticed his pick was duct taped to his thumb! Vocalist Vanessa Kaylor has the energy of a caffeinated teenager, and the intensity of an angry tiger. Three adjectives for drummer Terry Davidson: solid, strong, accurate. This all comes together under the defining sound of John McCree‘s guitar work. It is definitely metal-rooted punk rock. Not that weak-ass ’80s hair metal stuff, but more of the Slayer school of rock. John was previously in the hardcore band Don’t No, and the Oh Blessed Freak Show that was the Nip Drivers (if that tells you anything….it should.) Yeah, One Square Mile jams, so pick up on that. Fun fact: The band was named after the geometric measurement of the area of the city of Hermosa Beach, which is 1.43 square miles. However, this band does not do decimals, they do decibels.

Next, we were treated to the Ramones-like bonehead brilliance of Zig Zags. With songs like Punk Fucking Metal, and (Give Back) My Lighter, do I need to say more. Yes? Okay, I will. This L.A. based trio is described on Wikipedia (always a reliable resource), by Clash Magazine as, “A Venn diagram connecting Black Sabbath, Black Flag, and Motorhead.” They forgot Ramones in the overlapping Venn Diagram circles. I could easily see the Motorhead influence in bassist Sean Hoffman‘s Lemmy-like approach to the instrument complete with cowboy boots and a no-nonsense approach, complete with many chords, pedal effects and impressive plucking as he holds his bass high on his chest. Some random person next to me said he looked like a ’70s porn star, and when he took off his shirt….well, let’s just leave that there. The venue started to fill up and the slam pit started swirling. I really enjoyed this band appreciated their serious-approach to roaring metal infused punk rock tempered with a sense of humor. I was headbanging as if I had hair. It was a real good fuzzy-buzzy, punk-metal ambiance. Be sure to check out the bands many offerings on Bandcamp and you’ll be glad you did.

Zig Zags

As The Side Eyes set up their gear, I was intrigued by the guitarist’s expensive looking, beautifully stained amplifier cabinet that looked like it weighed a ton. I was also intrigued by the alluring female, Astrid McDonald that is their vocalist. She looks like a model. A bit of internet research confirms that she is a model, and her dad is Redd Kross guitarist Jeff McDonald, and her mom is Charlotte Caffey, guitarist of The Go-Go’s. Interesting. The crowd size swelled. People moved forward. I felt eager anticipation. I enjoyed the opening chunky riffs, and then Astrid began to scream, and scream, and yell, and scream some more. Everyone around me was totally into it. The sound of the band coalesced into a jet-engine like roar with a bunch of screaming. As I looked around at all the enthusiastic fans going nuts and bouncing all over the place, I thought to myself: “What am I missing here?” I kept listening, but I really do not care for bands that do a lot of screaming, yelling and guttural growls. Sorry, I left the room. I think I was the only one who did not like it. I went outside and listened to some friendly drunk guy tell me about how he owns every record and bootleg of The Cure. I enjoyed that. When I went back inside and told photographer Jeff Terranova that I did not like The Side Eyes, he was aghast and looked at me like I was crazy. I asked him to describe the band with one adjective. He said: “Killer,” and mentioned they did covers of Gorilla BiscuitsBig Mouth, and Uniform Choice‘s Use Your Head. I am glad he and everyone else enjoyed that. 

Side Eyes

No silence please! It was then time for the illustrious Jody Foster’s Army. People wearing Thrasher Magazine and Independent Trucks T-shirts began moving forward as the room became more densely packed while the reigning kings of old-school skatepunk got ready. I staked out my spot right in front of Don because I like gigs with the guitar right in my face. Suddenly, we were transported back to 1984 with the opening song, I Want from the Mad Garden EP. Sorry, no trumpet for this rendition. One and a half minutes later, the time machine dipped back one more year to 1983 with the ever-popular Preppy. Needless to say, the place was going nuts (but I said it anyway), with dozens of drunken old skateboarders jumping around and slam dancing while holding onto cans and glasses of beer, and somehow managing not to spill the entire contents. It must be that old skateboarder sense of balance. Next was Do The Hannigan from 1981’s Blatant Localism EP. I was trying to get some good photos of Brian, but this proved to be almost impossible because I kept getting pushed from behind (no problem), and Brian simply moves too much, so I left the photo duties to the intrepid Jeff. Right after Johnny D. (I hate Johnny D. / He’s such a fucking geek / Playing all that new wave shit / trying for a new wave hit), was a new song called Badlands, a ripping ode to the Inland Empire area (Upland, Rancho Cucamonga, Ontario), where the punk rock style of barging vertical skateboarding was born. (I am a proud OG Badlander and I can tell you right now, The Dogtown Boys are not the originators of aggressive pool skating. That started with Salba and co.) 


The ever-popular Charlie Brown theme was next, and the huge, older black guy who was working security while sitting on the stage suddenly perked up with wide eyes, and said: “Hey! That’s Charlie Brown!” as he smiled and swayed to the tune. Another new one from the new album (and my personal favorite), Stage Dive was next (Why you lookin’ at your phone? / Look out below!) By this time, Brian and most of the crowd was dripping with sweat. Right after the oldie Little Big Man came one of the two new surf numbers Fort Point. Jamming. (The other new surf tune is Desert Pipes, but the band did not play that this evening.) A few more jamming songs, more thrashing about, pushing smiling people who pushed me back, getting drenched in other people’s sweat and beer, and the set concluded with Beachblanket Bong Out. But no, we wanted more, and after some sincere yelling for an encore, we were treated to My Wife, and Cokes and Snickers. With ringing in my ears and a smile on my face, it felt good to be an old skater that still felt young. JFA has a new album entitled: Last Ride, but don’t worry, it is not the band’s last album. Buy one today and be sure to get one of those splatter red and white vinyl copies that are limited to only 200.


Live Photography courtesy of Jeff Terranova