As a teenager, Dave Markey documented the LA punk scene surrounding SST Records through his zine,
We Got Power
, and Super-8 films like
Desperate Teenage Lovedolls
. These photos are from Dave’s and WGP co-editor Jordan Schwartz’s upcoming book,
Party With Me Punker,
edited by Thurston Moore.
“I was 16 when I first started taking my camera and riding the bus to LA to see punk shows. Up to that point, I’d been making movies with my friends in Santa Monica and listening to whatever was on AM radio.
The funny thing about time back then was that a single year was like a decade as far as the density of things happening. Arriving on the LA punk scene in 1980, I kept being told that I’d already missed it—I was two years too late. What was happening, though, was there was a younger generation moving in and thus the birth of hardcore.”
Mood of Defiance at a venue called the Barn. They were very atypical for Southern California hardcore—almost psychedelic, but still really aggressive.
The City of Santa Monica had this genius idea to get kids to come down and clean up the beach by having Redd Kross play. It didn’t really work—people just came to watch the show, then left all their food wrappers and beer bottles all over the place.
This is my friend Jordan in front of an abandoned real estate office in our neighbourhood that we took over and called the Punk Shack. We still lived with our parents at the time, so it was just a hangout spot where we would listen to tapes we made of Rodney Bingenheimer’s Rodney on the ROQ show and add to the graffiti on the wall.
Word got out in the early 90s that the basement of the original Masque club was totally intact and untouched after all these years. So Dez Cadena and I broke in and took a bunch of photos. We felt like we were raiding King Tut’s tomb—it was like an archaeological dig into LA punk history.
D. Boon from the Minutemen at a house party they played in early 1982 along with Redd Kross, Saccharine Trust, and a bunch of forgotten hardcore bands. The Sunset Strip clubs had a ban on punk bands starting around ’81, so there were a lot of house party shows. This one ended the way they all did—with the LAPD busting in and marching everyone out.
Another shot from the same party. The guy in the glasses to the left of Mike Watt is Spot, who produced all the early SST records. Behind him with the blonde hair is Janet Housden from Redd Kross, the guy in the checkerboard jacket is me, and right behind Watt, the guy with the Aunt Jemima beanie and his fist raised is Henry Rollins.
This one was taken in early 1980 at a Go Gos show at the Whiskey A Go Go. That was one of my first times going out as a 16-year-old kid. I remember they didn’t let cameras into the Whiskey and I had to sneak my 35mm in.
This was a very early Suicidal Tendencies show in Culver City. They had yet to record their first record and were only known on the West Side because all these kids cut their hair the same and formed a gang around the band. This was a really early lineup—the only member of the band who survived to the later incarnations was Louiche Mayorga. I’d known Louiche since junior high school. Mike Muir went there too, but he was expelled pretty early on for wearing a swastika t-shirt
Social Distortion playing a friend’s kitchen in Silver Lake in 82. That show was remarkable as despite the fact it was in an apartment, somehow the police didn’t bust it up. I guess the neighbors were just extremely tolerant. I’m pretty sure Mike Ness is nodding out in this shot. He had stitches in his mouth from some sort of fight or accident.
Ray Pettibon sitting at this restaurant called the Apple Pan in West LA. This was in 86 or 87, a year or two before we did our video project together. I’d met him briefly in the early 80s, but he was pretty elusive at the time. He’d come up to Hollywood for all the shows at the Masque and once hardcore kicked in, he sort of ran in different circles. I was really interested in him from the comic books he was self-publishing through SST, particularly Captive Chains and the Tripping Corpse series.
That’s Joe Biaza from Saccharine Trust at the far right. I like this shot because of the way everyone’s looking in different direction and how it shows that hardcore kids were the original 40-drinkers, years before NWA and all them.
This was at a venue in Watts that had two or three shows before shutting down. You were really risking your life going there. The last show ended with some of the locals breaking in while the band was playing and mugging people in the crowd. I also think a girl got raped. So that was it for there.
This is an unknown hardcore band from the same house party as the Minutemen pictures. There were an easy 50 other bands who looked exactly the same. I have no idea what their name was—they were one of many groups who played a couple shows then evaporated without ever being documented. Maybe when the book comes out we’ll find out who they are.