In the late ’90s and early 2000s, when bands like Blink 182 ruled the airwaves, pop-punk was somehow everywhere you looked, from movies and TV to virtually every high school band. At that time, if you happened to flip through a So Cal teenager’s CD case (remember those?), found somewhere alphabetically between Bad Religion and Green Day was a California band called Craig’s Brother.
Made up at one time or another of members from Inspection 12, former Ventura band and mainstream success Yellowcard, and world-touring Camarillo band Hey Mike!, Craig’s Brother nailed the fast, skatepunk beat, gratuitous vocal harmonies and themes of teenage heartbreak that embodied that epoch in Southern California music. At some point, following the arrival of too many eyeliner-hog MTV puppets, that epoch seemed to freeze abruptly, leaving Craig’s Brother in relative hiding for the last decade, with no remaining label support or live presence.
But last Saturday, to the surprise of many local fans, the band played a show at Zoey’s Café in Ventura, and suddenly all the fuzzy memories came rushing back for the crowd of 30 year-olds coming to re-experience the energy and angst of their adolescence, in a small, all-ages venue, exactly the way they left it.
Zoey’s, traditionally a haven for singer-songwriters and other light fare, only recently began expanding its palette of musical styles — last month it hosted T.F.W.’s CD release show and tour kickoff , and now occasionally allows its halls and furniture, long polished by the gentle sounds of acoustic guitars, to soak up the sonic powerwash of punk rock.
“They came highly recommended,” says Zoey’s co-owner Polly Hoganson about Craig’s Brother, members of which are personal friends of one of Zoey’s staff. Munson, featuring members of late ’90s punk band Slick Shoes, at its first-ever show, and local punk band Gun of a Son opened. For fans, it was a rare experience, and Craig’s Brother lead singer Ted Bond remarked that the crowd response in Ventura was “way more awesome” than in their hometown in Santa Cruz.
Gypsy Death Star, celebrating the official commercial release of its already critically acclaimed debut, How to Skin a Ghost, performed a set at Billy O’s in Ventura on Saturday night. Having upgraded the live show to match the atmospheric feel of its music with fog, robotic lights and projector effects, Wyatt Hull and Cesar Augusto feel like a polished act, and while no tour plans exist, they are clearly ready for any major U.S. city. Catch them Nov. 12 at Bombay Bar & Grill.
It is always nice when our local bands get noticed by journalists outside the Southern California scene, as did Oxnard indie pop band Catwalk recently, when its new single, “(Please) Don’t Break Me,” was featured on Pitchfork.com, a leading independent music website with more than 2 million unique visitors per month, on the Thursday, Nov. 4, edition of “Forkcast.” I say it’s about time this homegrown band turns some heads with its unique modern take on breezy, California-style ’60s pop. Go find a tambourine and check out Catwalk ASAP.
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.