TSOL / Voodoo Glow Skulls / Ignite / The Venomous Pinks / The Pawns – Haven City Market, Rancho Cucamonga, CA

  • Marcus Solomon posted
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TSOL

TSOL / Voodoo Glow Skulls / Ignite / The Venomous Pinks / The Pawns

Haven City Market, Rancho Cucamonga, CA - St. Patrick’s Day 2023

I never thought I would see TSOL or any other well-known punk rock band play in Rancho Cucamonga, a politically conservative city in San Bernardino County where childish anti-Biden flags are common, red MAGA hats are a frequent sight, and protests against COVID-19 mandates offered fun and frolics for many of the citizens during the height of the pandemic. Okay, that’s not entirely true, because well-known punk rock bands do play from time to time at Dr. Strange Records, but that is tucked away on a side street in the north part of town, largely out of sight of the mainstream citizenry. This show happened at the family-oriented Haven City Market, a mall-like huge food court frequented by ordinary folks whose heads would explode if they knew the lyrical content to TSOL‘s Code Blue. The Rancho Cucamonga, Sheriff’s Department was on the next street to the north, and I honestly expected the police to come shut down the show and maybe knock in a few heads in the process. I remember that sort of thing happening on a fairly regular basis at punk shows in the 1980s. Fortunately, the sold-out event was a great success, no cops showed up, there were no fights, the security personnel were super cool and despite the terrible acoustics, everyone had a great time. 

TSOL

I arrived late because I was helping one of my young tutoring students finish an overdue book report, and since when do punk shows start on time anyway? This time. Consequently, I missed The Pawns, The Venomous Pinks (the band I most wanted to see this evening) and Ignite. Fear not! Crispy Chris, the drummer for The Pawns connected me with his bandmate, Jonster, the vocalist/guitarist via Facebook group chat. 

The Venomous Pinks

Jonster said that there was some sort of problem at the door while his band was playing so, there were only a few dozen in the audience at first. The door problem was quickly resolved, and the band got to finish its set to a crowd of a few hundred eager and ready-to-slam spectators who enjoyed The Pawns‘ offering of metal-thrash punk that is strongly reminiscent of Excel. He also wanted to make sure this article expresses the band’s gratitude to all the fans, and to all the opening bands for watching their set…and especially to TSOL for personally requesting The Pawns play this show. The Pawns will have a new video soon, a tribute to a dear friend, the former artist for the band who was tragically murdered by the police.

The Pawns

The Venomous Pinks played next, and I felt really bad for missing it because they are now one of my favorite bands, and they put me on the guest list! Jonster said The Venomous Pinks rocked hard like they always do, with an explosive mix of power and melody. The slam pit was going strong throughout the entire set and the whole crowd was stoked. Drea (lead guitar/vocals), Gabby (bass/vocals) and Cassie (drums), play every gig with heavy passion and blistering intensity. They sounded great despite the terrible acoustics of the venue. Jonster also informed me that he and The Pawns‘ lead guitarist Austin Ripz are in the The Venomous Pinks‘ soon-to-be-released video for the song We Must Prevail. Keep an eye out for that and do yourself a favor and experience The Venomous Pinks live, they also have some serious ass-kicking videos on the internet that are well worth checking out. Drea is lead guitar/vocals and Gabby is the bassist. 

The Venomous Pinks

Ignite took the stage next. My friend Louie said he liked it because it sounded like polished punk/metal. My friend Ben said he did not like it because it sounded like polished punk/metal. Both said the crowd seemed to like it a lot as the energy in the room kept on increasing and the pit never stopped churning. Ignite’s website seems inactive, so find these guys on Facebook.

Voodoo Glow Skulls

I entered the venue while VooDoo Glow Skulls were already jamming. The crowd was thick and intense as the 35-year-old punk/ska band with the distinctive Mexican flavor whipped the crowd to a frenzy. I also noticed the large number of young kids in attendance wearing TSOL shirts, VooDoo Glow Skulls hats, and various other bits of punk rock attire. One young boy sat on his father’s shoulders, right up front, pumping his fist as vocalist Efrem (wearing a devil-horned lucha libre mask) shouted lyrics into the kid’s face. I tried to get some good pictures by squeezing up to the front on stage left near the horn players, but two punk rock moms decided they did not want me taking photos over their kids’ heads. While one constantly yelled at me (inaudible due to the loud music), while the other got in front of me and deliberately blocked all my attempts to take a picture. That was weird. Other than that, the VooDoo Glow Skulls set was great, and there was a heart-warming sense of unity as the audience (kids included) chanted with the band: “Who do voodoo? We do! Fuck you!” 

TSOL

As TSOL took the stage, I nervously looked at the door to the venue, expecting to see club-wielding cops run through the door at any moment. I still could not believe this show was happening about 300 yards from the Sheriff’s department. The crowd surged forward and I abandoned any hope of getting good photos, so I settled for a spot behind the soundboard guy at stage right. Jack Grisham explained that bassist Mike Roche was not feeling well, so a “family member” was filling in. This young guy told me later his name was Reza, Jack’s daughter’s boyfriend (according to the hastily scribbled note I just now found in my pocket.) 

TSOL

I lost my notebook, so I don’t remember the order of the songs, but we were treated to many old favorites such as Dance With Me, Sounds of Laughter, Superficial Love, Silent Scream, the secret agent saga The Triangle, and most of the first album. Directly across the stage from me, a woman had her baby strapped into one of those chest harness things. The child, who looked to be about a year and a half old, wearing full headphone ear protection, was wide-eyed and pumping arms and legs up and down to the beat of the music! It was an astonishing sight. The kid was totally with it. Occasionally, I would look at the door to see if the cops had arrived. Nope. Of course the crowd was singing along the whole time. Of course the pit was going strong throughout the performance. Of course the show ended with Code Blue, and I was both puzzled and amused to see teenagers singing  along to this song with their parents. Great show. Horrible acoustics. No problems. Thank you. Afterwards, I drove past the Rancho Cucamonga Sheriff’s Station just to look. The lights were on, nobody could be seen and all was quiet.