As summer's running out on us fast, what better way to blow your minds this weekend then to catch a live Redd Kross show outdoors? At Los Angeles' Sunset Junction Festival is where you'll find them this Saturday, and despite the prerequisite bullshit that surrounds most outdoor 'concert' situations, the purely bombastic set by Redd Kross is bound to be worth your time and money. The punk landscape of late 70s Los Angeles was as lurid and bountiful as any of the other seminal epicenters on earth, and the way the suburban slime intervened with Hollywood trash would grow to create such an amazing ensemble of bands, you'd be a fool not to look into it if you aren't already familiar. One of the many bands not often in the central spotlight early on in the story of LA punk was Red Cross. Formed out of their middle school band, the Tourists in 1978, the two McDonald brothers, Steven and Jeff, had quite an ensemble of punk royalty in their initial little circle. Their early incarnations boast some of the West coast's prime players in early hardcore like Greg Hetson and Ron Reyes, who need no introduction here, and their desperately sloppy and explosive style of punk bridged the gap between 'good' and 'bad' like no one had before them. Stitching together shards of raging hardcore with pieces of leftover glam infection and all delivered with the grace of a drunken chainsaw juggler was just what came natural to these kids. Their early records continue to be an inspiration, and while their early influences to future trash are very dear to my ugly side, their next stage of development was even more trailblazing and just as interesting.
While having to adapt to a name change after the release of their first EP in 1980, the brothers lost their wayward punk band mates to Black Flag, Circle Jerks, and Trixie & the Doorknobs, but their all-time classic beach-brat punk hallmark Born Innocent (named after the TV movie), recorded in 1981 with a revolving door of hazed friends, put them on the map instantly. One of the West coast's finest punk moments, and another mold-breaking band who still were moving ahead creatively and keeping everyone guessing, despite the fact that both Steve and Jeff McDonald were both still too young to drive upon it's release. Their vastly overlooked second (mini) album, Teen Babes From Monsanto was released on Gasatanka Records in 1984. The cover accurately mimics the typical album aesthetic during the rise of the 'paisley underground' movement on the West coast in the mid 80s, but their clever choices in covers are such great adaptations that it's also an essential part of their catalog, and worth tracking down. But it was 1986 and the subsequent Neurotica album released on Big Time, that really knocked Redd Kross into a higher echelon of underground music. Their penchant for uncharacteristically brilliant production and classic pop song writing came to an official head on Neurotica, and when they squeezed this one, it splattered all over the leather pants of Hollywood's slum-chic losers and into the faces of the teased-top soul stealers who stripped their chops a few years later in their sub-par hair metal bands. As tragedy always strikes, and just as Neurotica was gaining momentum, their label fell into a pit of financial ruin (The Scientists were also labelmates at the time) and crippled the band for years with legal frustrations over rights to their name, and a stifled chance at newly emerging 'alternative / mainstream' recognition.
Recent band news has reported that their mid-80s bassist, Robert Hecker, has rejoined, completing the original Neurotica album lineup, and guaranteed to saturate your pleasure receptors with pure rock'n roll satisfaction. Catch Redd Kross live this Saturday in Los Angeles at the Sunset Junction outdoor Festival with the Cramps, and also in New York at Irving Plaza September 22nd.
Check out some music HERE and a couple videos from live songs off the Neurotica album below...
"Peach Kelli Pop" live from 1997
and "Frosted Flake" from 2006