111 Minna stands in Downtown San Francisco, in a rather unusual setting for a punk rock show. Surrounded by Financial District happy hour goers, this rather modern and well-kept art gallery sits tucked into an alley way just blocks from the city’s main drag. In fact, the last time I was at this particular venue was for a corporate holiday party. So yeah, it’s pretty nice. Aesthetics aside, the space was actually a perfect fit for this show, with space to truly showcase artwork, music, and fashion all together.
Upon arriving to the show, the very first thing I noticed was the artwork. It was front and center, well lit, and grandly displayed. We grabbed a drink and checked it out. We spent most of our time checking out the pieces from Jennie Cotterill (Bad Cop / Bad Cop), Matt Skiba (Alkaline Trio/Blink-182), and Warren Fitzgerald (The Vandals), though there was a lot more on display, including work from Dominic Davi (Tsunami Bomb), and Matt Hensley (Flogging Molly).
(Disclaimer for the next few descriptions: I have absolutely no art education — I’m a music guy)
Jennie’s art was some of my favorite with a number of 3D pieces, including some really interesting dioramas. After reading an article about her a while back, I was already aware of her background in art, and was familiar with some of her album covers (Bad Cop / Bad Cop, Heartless Folk, & The Bombpops). Matt’s art was not unlike what you might expect, based on what you’ve heard him sing about, and the visual aspect of the Alkaline Trio art. There was no color in any of the pieces, except for painted red crimson frames which made the black and white pop. Warren Fitzgerald of the Vandals had some of the more provocative pieces, all displaying parts of the human genitalia illustrated in a bright, colorful fashion. Dominic Davi of Tsunami Bomb displayed pieces mostly involving different types of monsters (perfect for this time of year), while Matt Hensley displayed some really amazing skate decks.
Build Them To Break opened up the show as the only band on the bill from San Francisco proper. They’re a 4-piece band, with all the members originally hailing from the Michigan but now residing in SF. The backbone of their sound is solid rhythm layered by dueling Gibsons, topped off with double team vocals. Their music is complex but not over complicated, catchy but not predictable. The set consisted of a mix of tracks from the latest album, Pushed Aside, in addition to two brand new tracks that they’re working on releasing on a split cassette with Worth Taking. My favorites were “Blackout Pizza” (could this be foreshadowing?) and an older track “Fair Warning.”
Next up – WAS NOT a band…it was a fashion show! The show featured swimwear from Romantic Rock, an independent company run out of the San Diego area by Emily Treasure, who also set up this entire event. Ten or so models graciously displayed this individually handmade, one-of-a-kind swimwear. In pairs, they took the stage to show off their moves, good looks, and of course, the clothing. Each pair had a different song playing while onstage, with the vast majority of the tracks being classic rock and punk. While I am not a fashion expert (I’m sure you’re surprised to hear that), it was easy to tell that a this was some really unique and well-crafted stuff. The audience was of course captivated, having a great time cheering the models on and showing support! With their permission of course, Jen snapped a few shots. After the performance, a lot of the models hung out and milled around with the audience.
That brings us to Oakland’s The Hammerbombs. If you don’t like to have fun, this band isn’t for you. The set was rambunctious, loud, fast, and an all-around slaughter of smiles, jumps and woahs. Their music is “in your face” but still happy and melodic, with three part vocals just to ink it all into your head for days. There were lots of opportunities for sing along on songs like “Too Drunk”, “King of the Dipshits”, and “Pay in the Morning”. But, my favorites of the set were the two brand new songs they played. I had heard one of the two previously played acoustic, and the other appeared to be fresh off the presses. The main point of this set was that this band is very comfortable with who they are, and they know how to have a fucking killer time.
Once again, the Romantic Models geared up and took the stage for the second part of the swimwear fashion show. This time it was the same models, but different garments. By this time they had an even larger audience!
Bad Cop / Bad Cop finished off the night with an acoustic set. They were a surprise last minute addition to the show as the Punk In Drublic festival, which was scheduled for the next day, had been postponed due to the fires in the North Bay (and the overall air quality in the Bay Area, which hasn’t been good). Since the band was already in town,they jumped onto this show! Plus, one of their members had art on display. Now, I know what you are thinking when you hear the words “acoustic set.” Well, forget that. This was essentially a full Bad Cop show, but without amps and distortion. Myra played a “cocktail” stripped down drum kit, and Stacey, Jennie, and Linh all played acoustic guitars through the PA. We got to hear songs off of their latest album Warriors, but there were also quite a few older tracks thrown in as well.
Due to the casual nature of the show, the band also told some stories about the songs and the origins of some of the lyrical content. At one point, they even asked the audience for requests. Though it is probably not their natural performance environment, the sound was perfect and the acoustic arrangements really showcased how talented this group is. But mostly, the vocals shined as bright as ever, with the three part harmonies really carrying over the acoustic arrangement. This was truly a special treat for me, as this has become one of my favorite bands over the past few years. “Cheers” was probably my favorite from the set.
All in all, this was one for sure a well-rounded night of entertainment; art, music, friends, fashion, and drinks! Although I was admittedly a bit bummed that Punk in Drublic got postponed, this was about the best way I could have imagined spending a Friday the 13th. And I still get to go to the PID Fest on 10/29, while the rest of you are at that other fest.