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Los Angeles 1980's punk / new wave scene
1980's Los Angeles Punk / New Wave


How the mainstream portrayed punks in 1980.

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1980s los angeles new wave bands
Punk Rock article
The new wave is here
October 16, 1980

"I can't see anything decadent
about mature people having fun with their clothes on."
- Truman Capote

Last issue I told you about some great bands and seedy clubs that might fall into the 'punk' category. On the pop music side of things, there are some interesting so-called 'new wave' bands playing around town, and some wildly fun clubs to go to.

toasters / los angeles new wave bands The Toasters play some of the best music you'll hear anywhere - I don't really know how to classify the band other than pop, they aren't hard rock, but they burn the stage and shear the audience with crisp, clean tunes that are both lyrically and musically right on target.

It's a real treat to watch these guys play, each one of them has an engaging, accessible stage presence that works for them as individuals and adds to their appeal as a group. I guess that's what it's all about tho, huh?

The Toasters 1980sThe word for this group is 'together' and you should get together with this band wherever they play next and The Toasters are appearing with great frequency throughout the LA club scene.

I caught them at Blackie's, a great little hole in the wall in Santa Monica that thankfully serves up cold beer and great west-side bands. Blackies is more laid back than the Hollywood clubs, and bands seem to feel at home here, more of a hang out than an event.

their single "Teenage Tease",
an LA New Wave classic.

great buildingsA list of the most popular local 'new wave' bands might include the so-so Great Buildings, who just signed a deal with CBS. Lucky for them, because band signings by major record companies are getting scarce - and the budgets are much smaller for these newly signed bands that they were just a year ago.

The record industry is in a severe slump right now, the direct result of bloated spending on seventies dinosaurs and lame 'new wave' crap bands like The Knack, the band that started the whole "LA explosion," then poisoned the well.

go-gos / la punk rock bandsThe Go-Gos had to sign with an independent (Stiff Records) to get some kind of deal this year. The majors may be sorry they passed on The Go-Gos, crowds are jamming their shows and their self-released single, 'We Got The Beat,' is starting to gain national attention besides getting relentless play on KROQ.

Speaking of The GoGo's, they played two sold out shows on the 12th and 13th of September at The Whisky and the whole experience was a perfect ending to a great summer of new music, bringing together a crowd from every spectrum - from punkers to gay clones and everything in between.

go-gosHEAR THE (original )
GO-GOS 45rpm single-
"How Much More"

The Downtown crowd converged with the Hollywood scene for a great big Go-Go's love-in at the Whisky,. The real fun was in the crowd outside on the streets (undoubtedly the biggest freak show on Sunset since the Bowie era), and backstage amongst the graphitti scrawled walls of the Whisky's derelict dressing area. Names of the great and not-so great who have played the club in past decades are scrawled on the backstage walls to remind us all of the rich history this club represents.

Following their phenomenal blowout at The Starwood a couple of months earlier, it truly was the summer of The Go-Gos.

Sunset Boulevard is coming alive again, thanks to the energy of new groups, like The Go-Gos, that are bubbling up from the smaller clubs. These girls originally got together because their boyfriends were in local bands, and their awkward gigs earlier in the year at Club 88 and Al's Bar downtown are fondly remembered by many, but let's face it, musicians they weren't. Still, these inexperienced punk chicks have an overpowering exuberance, and an abundance of crowd pleasing tunes, that carry them over the top. They're more popular than the bands their boyfriends are in now!

On the other hand, a 'new wave' group with a lot to learn is The Works. Put simply, The Works doesn't. (Even if I didn't think so, I would have been compelled to write that line, right?) Leading the group is an Erik Estrada look-a-like with sort of the same smarmy 'CHIP's' attitude.

LA New wave bandsThis guy swaggered across the Wong's East stage in the best Rod Stewart tradition. The problem is - he isn't Rod Stewart. And even if he was, I wouldn't waste my time. It's way too late for this crap, some people just don't get it, I guess. It's not about haircuts and costumes.

Hey, I was going to tell you about some of the cool New Wave clubs, but I got sidetracked. I'll clue you in when we get together again in two weeks. In the meantime, if you have a band you would like reviewed here, just call Billy Eye or Judy Zee at the Data-Boy multi-national corporation - we'd love to see you.

And without delay here is the lady herself, Judy Zee, who answers a reader's question about the definition of 'New Wave' . . .

Rock and Roll -1980
by Judy Zee

Much of the music we now call 'new wave' extends far beyond that classification itself. Now that the record companies have gotten a hold of that phrase it makes the music seem as if it's just a pawn in an industry game, another fad created from above.

Don't let the hype mislead you or turn you off to the music- it has a lot to offer, being a highly evolved sort of sound. (and to clarify the confused- 'new wave' is not 'punk'. It is not that scratchy noise where every voice and instrument is screaming. 'Punk' is a very preliminary form of rock, where 'new wave' is a far more advanced form.)

There is a preciseness in most 'new wave', a stylistic approach with an innovative edge and pointed lyrical message. Frankly, I tire of the words 'new wave' and simply consider it today's form of rock and roll, which has grown through many shifts in style to reach this point in time. Luckily we have grown out of the dinosaur rock age of heavy metal and have turned up in a brighter world, progressed a bit past 'progressive', and are finally here in the age of the sophisticated equipment and electronic wizardry that made all of this possible.

So, here we are in the world of new rock. Viola!

Punk Rock Los Angeles


10-7-80 The first article, The Masque, Punk bands, Darby Crash & The Germs, The Garage

10-21-80 The Toasters, Great Buildings, The Go-Gos

11-2-80 New Wave nights in Hollywood, T.S.O.L, Shandi, The Smog Marines

11-16-80 Grace Jones, The Nobodys, Billy Sheets and the Elites, The Talking Heads

12-1-80 Hollywood Boulevard 'punks'

12-27-80 End of the year wrap-up, The Naughtie Sweeties, Dead Kennedys, Fear, punk riot in the OC

12-27-80 David Bowie as The Elephant Man

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1-05-81 Devo, Rock Against Racism

1-19-81 John Hiatt and The Toasters at the Starwood

2-03-81 Wendy O Williams, London aka Motley Crue, and Live Nude Girl

2-17-81 The Veil, Darby Crash death, Phil Seymour and The Textones

3-5-81 New wave night at the Odyssey, Ray Manzerek

3-19-81 The East LA scene, Hey Taxi!, The Rentz, The Plugz, The Detour, Human Sexual Response

3-19-81 Judy Zee on LA radio in 1981

4-02-81 Tonio K & Romeo Void, Oki-Dog, Flippers, A week in the LA clubs

4-16-81 XTC, Wall of Voodoo, Madame
Wong, and The Pop

4-30-81 U2 and Missing Persons

5-14-81 Billy Eye Rock Awards, Manakin

5-28-81 Missing Persons at the Topanga Corral

6-11-81 The Brat, Parapalegic Infants in Downtown LA and U2 in Santa Monica

6-25-81 Performance artist Adore O'Hare, downtown clubs, Red Wedding

6-25-81 Missing Persons in Westwood

7-09-81 Los Illegals, The Brat in Hollywood, Al's Bar, Johanna Went, Jerry Lee Lewis

7-09-81 John Cale live at The Whisky

7-23-81 Brave Dog, Stiff Little Fingers with Missing Persons, The Grandmothers

8-06-81 Bow Wow Wow, Malcolm McLaren, Mad Society, Ian Hunter , and the new psychedelia

8-22-81 Missing Persons, Jean Pierre Rampal

9-07-81 Filming at the Brave Dog, Red Wedding, Atomic Cafe, The Stains, Los Illegals, East LA bands

10-06-81 KROQ of the '80s, hardcore EPs, Missing Persons at The Whisky

10-20-81 West Hollywood & the end of The Starwood

4-7-82 New Wave Theatre, Aphotic Culture, The Waitresses and The Plimsouls

5-07-82 In the clubs, The Spoons, Nick Lowe, Madame Wong's West, Angry Samoans, Motley Crue

5-21-82 Interview with Terry Bozzio in 1982

8-27-82 Missing Persons, Red Wedding at the Whisky, Dream Syndicate, The Untouchables, The Go-Gos, Orange County hardcore

1-12-83 End of the year, Minutemen, Fear, Gun Club, Theoretical party, KROQ, Missing Persons

3-14-85 Red Wedding closes The Odyssey in 1985


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