This weekend, August 17th & 18th, marks the fifth annual Johnny Rad Fest in San Diego at the Ken Club in San Diego. Among the Volar acts you can catch over the weekend are Shannon and the Clams and Audacity (who will also be backing King Tuff), as well as the legendary Tokyo Electron, fronted by Ryan Wong of Destruction Unit. Stalins of Sound are also slated to play a pre-fest show on Thursday, the 16th. These things are always a guaranteed, and tickets are available (but running out) at the links below. Have a listen to the above-mentioned bands, and read an interview with myself and Rad Fest organizer below, courtesy of Get Bent! (and no, I can't take any credit whatsoever for this fest...)
Johnny Rad Fest Pre Party Thursday Aug 16th.:
The Lumps, Stalins of Sound, Ace High Cutthroats, Acorn Bcorn, Last Years Heros.
Johnny Rad Fest 5 Aug 17th & 18th at Ken Club.
links to tickets: 2 Day Pass $22. 1 Day Pass $12
FB event page: https://www.facebook.com/events/459499904069519/
2 Day Pass http://
Day 1 Pass http://
Day 2 Pass http://
Friday Aug 17th
Mark Sultan "BBQ"
Saturday the 18th
Shannon and The Clams
Courtesy of Get Bent!:
By Jason Gelt
San Diego’s punk rock legacy stretches all the way back to the Injections anarchic Killed by Death classic, Prison Walls, which was released to an uncaring world in 1980. Since then bands have come and gone, often beckoned away by glossier opportunities elsewhere. Craig Oliver, honcho of local label Volar Records, has called the city home for 14 years, but only recently did he watch a scene coalesce. “There wasn’t a whole lot in terms of a collective effort for a while,” he says. “The past two years have been good as far as there being a handful of really good acts that are all willing to play together and all really supportive of each other, and outside the ‘let’s try and make it big’ mentality.” Underneath the soothing Mediterranean climate and swaying palms, Oliver sees creative juices flowing into darker, moodier musical activities. “Here in San Diego there’s sort of this pressure to always have a sunny disposition,” he says. “But there’s definitely a good amount of people who aren’t into that and would rather stay at home at night making weird music.”
Although most of the featured bands hail from other cities, the annual Johnny Rad Fest—Southern California’s one-and-only garage punk shindig—has become a welcome addition to San Diego’s punk pantheon. The Fest celebrates its fifth year between August 17 and 18, when the Kensington Club will fill with the smell of sweat and Pabst and the raucous sounds of such garage rock luminaries as Nobunny, Mark Sultan, King Tuff, Audacity, and Shannon and the Clams. Previous years have featured The Spits, Reigning Sound, Hunx and his Punx, Pierced Arrows, and the Sneaky Pinks, although there are always two constants, like the gleaming North Stars of Rad Fest: “Every year the Half Rats play,” says Tyrone Taylor, the affable Hoosier who organizes the festivities. “We pretty much started it to get them to come hang out, because we’re all friends from Indiana. And every year there’s going to be one of Ryan Wong’s bands, since he basically started it with me.”
In keeping with tradition, Wong’s Tokyo Electron plays Friday and Half Rats play Saturday. Taylor takes pride in promoting his friends: “It’s cool because now I hear people in California who are stoked on the Half Rats,” he says. “Before they came out for Rad Fest, no one had ever seen or heard of them, unless they’re into that one Douchemaster Records seven-inch. They have a bigger fan base out here than they do back home. There they’re just a local homegrown band that’s really good, but here it’s like, ‘Whoah, this is fucking sick.’ They get treated how they should get treated other places.”
Other than the Half Rats and Tokyo Electron, Taylor takes a laid back approach to selecting his line-ups, preferring to deal with artists he knows and likes to plotting a commercially ironclad bill. “I want it to be like a good time with all your friends,” he says, explaining why he’s rebuffed occasional calls to move the festival to a bigger venue than the cramped Ken Club, which holds a maximum of 200 fans. “You feel like a part of it there. The whole thing with the Ken Club is that if you want to go talk to the band, you can talk to them. They’re not hiding away with a bunch of free beer in the green room of some massive place.”
Still, there were new market-related challenges this year. “A lot of the bands now have booking agents,” says Taylor, who is already maxed out with his successful skateboard company, Lurkville, and the arrival of his first child, who was born in April. “So it’s not like you can just call your friend that’s in that band and say ‘Hey, you want to come play this gig?’ They’re like, ‘Yeah, but you have to check with this agency.’ It’s a lot more signed papers and written out contracts…it’s not the original rock ‘n’ roll that I’m stoked on.” But thanks to skate apparel company Brixton, Taylor’s load was significantly lightened. “It made it way less stressful for me,” he says. “They put up the money, gave me the company credit card to order plane tickets for people coming and book hotel rooms. They’re taking care of it. And they love all the bands, and they’re just hyped to be part of something that’s super sick.”
For the second year running, Rad Fest’s official lodging is the funky mid-century King’s Inn on San Diego’s Hotel Circle. The grounds feature both a Mexican restaurant (hello cheap margaritas!) and the Waffle Spot, where a life-sized plush figurine of the restaurant’s mascot—a giant waffle with eyes, a crown and a pat of butter for a nose—offers frequent photo ops.
There’s also a sprawling pool area, where the second annual Johnny Rad pool party will be held Saturday afternoon. Last year, pot-bellied middle-aged tourists and curious kids from a visiting school soccer team mingled with a crowd of shaggy, tattooed miscreants who drank complimentary Pabst and cavorted to an impromptu DJ set from Reigning Sound frontman Greg Cartwright. “The King’s Inn was actually super into it,” says Taylor, who hopes to arrange a poolside set by King Lollipop of Shannon and the Clams at this year’s party. “I was afraid they were going to say, ‘Oh, the rooms smelled like weed and there was a party in the hot tub all night,’ but the manager called me two days later and thanked me, and I was like ‘Really? I figured you were probably calling to yell at me.’”
Asked about highlights from last year’s performances, Taylor waxes nostalgic about Ryan Wong’s stage antics with Tokyo Electron, which are sure to be on display again in 2012. “Ryan ripped the Brixton banner off the wall and wore it as a poncho,” he laughs, describing how a wasted Wong crowd-surfed his way through a psychotic guitar solo with the banner around his neck. “People told me ‘Yeah, Ryan stole the show last year.’ Even people who didn’t like Tokyo Electron before were like ‘That band is so fucking bad-ass. That dude is the gnarliest guitar player.’ Every year when he plays Tokyo songs he has a new thing to one-up himself.”
As for predictions about the success of Johnny Rad Fest 5, Taylor says, “Things this year are pretty much going to be going off.”
Johnny Rad Fest 5, Thursday-Saturday August 17-18 at the Kensington Club, 4079 Adams Ave., San Diego. Shows start at 9 p.m. Tickets are $12 per night. For a complete schedule and tickets, visit www.brixton.com/johnnyradfest.