Punk rock music and motorcycles came together at a beach for 2 days for Surf City Blitz. The event lived up to its name drawing hordes of locals and travelers from all over. Being an Arizonan, I was looking forward to some nice sea breezes and killer music. Thankfully the weather and lineup throughout the weekend did not disappoint, making it well worth traveling the long distance to Huntington Beach.
I traveled down from North Hollywood and suffered through some gnarly traffic due to an accident. Unfortunately, I missed the first 4 bands including one of my favorite bands TSOL. Luckily, I arrived in time to catch FEAR. They never tour and this is one of the bands that made me want to attend the event in the first place. I was stoked to see two of the original members were on the roster. Aside from Lee Ving on guitar and vocals, Johnny Backbeat was behind the drum kit, which I was thankful to witness because no one else could replicate his unique drum style. His drumming truly helped define FEARS sound and I was glad to cross that off my concert bucket list.
Suicidal Tendencies was up next and they fucking delivered. Arguably, they were one of the best sets all weekend. Mike Muirs’ energy and positivity throughout their set and inspired me as a musician. He told old war stories from being a young kid being told, “you can’t dress like a cholo and be a punk rocker.” Well, we all know he fucking did it anyway! He said, “we were not victims. We were victorious!” They even had Institutionalized on the set list which is a song they rarely play live. Needless to say, the crowd went insane. Rightfully so, because it was fucking amazing.
Next was bro punks Pennywise. This had to be one of the best sets I’ve seen. That is saying something coming from someone who was lucky enough to watch their set from behind Byron McMackin’s drum kit at Punk Rock Bowling and to be thrown right into Fletcher Dragge during Brohym (surviving and being able to tell you this now). Jim’s energy was up and I wanted to be in front with him whipping and thrashing around. They even covered Bestie Boys and at one point brought out the Vandals. The fucking Vandals showed up and played that Cowboy Diddy. Joe Escalante was nowhere to be seen so Randy Bradbury filled in on bass.
The Offspring closed out the night, and at this point, I jumped a barricade with my girlfriend into the VIP section to get closer. It was awesome to see a big beach circle pit during their set. They played all their radio hits including that one that skyrocketed them into TRL’s top 10 with Carson Daly back in the day. You know you remember that jam.
With driving, parking, and walking we arrived just in time to find a spot against the barricade and watch The Interrupters. The Interrupters are one of those bands that just get better and better every time I see them. They are on point with their looks, the stage presence, and their banter. Aimee Interrupter is a boss babe and her energy is always well delivered. They covered the Sound System by Operation Ivy and ended their set with family but there was no Tim Armstrong on stage for this one. Bummer.
Next was the Black Rebel Motorcycle Club. They were really good for their type of music, but I would have had them play before The Interrupters to help with the flow of the lineup. The crowd seemed a bit lackluster and more entertained with the beach balls being bumped back n forth.
Bad Religion was up and the crowd really filled and everyone was stoked to see them. They came out to an 8bit version of My Sharona. The set seemed short, but it was probably because they are so fun to watch and thrash to so time just flew right by. I loved watching Jay Bentley smile thru their set and Greg Graffin’s vocals sounded perfect. At one point my girlfriend turns to me and says “Greg is hot”….alrighty then…. Who am I to argue?
Rancid was solid as always. They played hits from a variety of their albums and even the new one. Kevin Bivona shredding on the keyboard throughout the set. At one point someone raised up an American flag from the crowd that had a Rancid banner attached to it. It was a rad sentiment because it made me feel like we were at some huge stadium festival from the 80s.
Social Distortion closed out the night and sounded amazing. Their light show was the best of all the bands that played. Mike brought up his son to play Ball and Chain. A bittersweet moment to watch between father and son.
All in all this fest was legit. It was a weekend filled with punk rock historical milestones. In addition to the bands, there were a lot of booths and extras with the bike portion of the festival. I hope this is an annual thing since it created many musical memories that will never fade.