Sounding the 805

Oxnard’s throwback pop scene, metal vs. hardcore and Happens Again . . . for the first time ever

By Chris Mastrovito 07/08/2010

Fresh & Fabulous Café, housed in the historic Woolworth Building on Fourth and A Streets in the heart of downtown Oxnard, is quickly turning into a sweet spot for young bands. July 4 weekend, it served us more helpings of what we have come to love about this all-ages venue: consistent lineups of indie, pop and rock music, with a heavy lean toward the lo-fi fuzz-pop sound of Oxnard’s Yay! Records band roster. Ventura rock band Idiosyncratic Routine, the winner of my award for best rock band with a name that sounds like an underground hip-hop group, took the stage Friday with sweet dual vocal harmonies and a sound that can be described as Weezer meets early Soul Asylum. They were joined by El Rio’s The Avocados, who lit up the joint as always with their take on ’60s garage-pop, a throwback trend developing in Oxnard’s younger indie scene with such bands as Sea Lions, The Tartans and Catwalk. An extra-special Saturday show on July 3 featured Tall Tales, Catwalk and San Francisco’s Magic Bullets, which was greeted warmly at its first show in Oxnard by the local scene keen on its fun, danceable pop.

Rock City Studiosin Camarillo was busting at the seams with a two-day-long lineup of more than 20 local and visiting hardcore and metal bands at the Hardcore vs. Metal Festival presented by Hourglass Booking. It was the perfect opportunity to test the gut-wrenching limits of a new beefed-up live sound system. If it had actually been a competition for which scene dominated the fest, it would have been clear that hardcore came out on top, with double kick-drum pedals ablaze, vocal cords bleeding and kids wound so tightly they were set spinning wildly on the dance floor like flailing tops doing rock and roll street karate, clearly enjoying one of the few places that allow this sort of free-form dancing. The event marked the final show for Ventura straight-edge hardcore band XTriggerX, and the comeback show after a lineup and name change for Santa Paula grindcore band All That’s Left (formerly A Vital Awakening).

While hardcore may have won over Camarillo, extreme metal purists need not despair, for the month of July promises some unmissable local metal shows in Ventura and Oxnard. Warbringer, the death/thrashmetal band from Ventura turned international act, will return to the 805 before departing on a world tour when it hit  Fresh Mex Bar & Grill in Oxnard (cleverly disguised on fliers under the much cooler-sounding abbreviation FMBG) on July 23 along with Fatalist, Trancit and Hostile. Then on July 30, Take 2 Cocktails in Ventura will be host to what promises to be the best and cheapest over-21 metal show in recent history when Bay Area mathmetal/deathmetal spectacle Rings of Saturn fires out laser-fast riffs (listen to the track “Seized and Devoured” off its new album, Embryonic Anomaly, and you will know what I mean) along with a lineup of all-star local metal bands Burning at the Stake, Fatalist and Mentacide.

The debut of a new Ventura band called Happens Again . . .  took center stage at Billy O’s last Saturday. This four-piece rock band features members of Big Chief Radio and Robert Ramirez who owns Pin-Ups Hair Design in Ventura, plus Bill Bensen from Raging Arb and the Redheads. Happens Again . . .’s unmistakable chemistry onstage propels it from a shimmering surf intro into a steady upbeat rock groove reminiscent of Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers. Catch them next at Pin-Ups for the Fourth Annual Party and Car Show July 18, along with rockabilly bands La Vonettes and The Phantom Pomps from Santa Barbara, with all proceeds benefiting the Avon Walk for Breast Cancer.

Sounding the 805 is Ventura County’s only biweekly local music column. If you have a tip, a suggestion, a complaint, some dish or just a kind word, shoot Chris Mastrovito an e-mail.


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