Okay, okay, okay… out of all the bands that played The Observatory in Santa Ana on September 11th, 2022, only Marky Ramone’s original band, the Ramones, were from the 70s, but c’mon — D.I. was created in 1982! That’s close enough right?! Las Vegas band JERK! opened up the night and really started the show off right. They fit amazingly well as Marky Ramone’s opener.
JERK! falls into that same bubblegum punk that The Ramones, Riverdales and The Queers also belong to.
You know the type… the genre with catchy riffs, three-chord setups and “Whoa-oh-oh-oh-oh” harmonies. JERK!’s latest release is an EP titled Welcome to Sleepaway Camp, which was recently released on Mom’s Basement Records and can be found on Spotify alongside their other projects Panic Attack and A Bad Case of the Splits — EPs released in 2018 and 2019. Welcome to Sleepaway Camp includes such bangers as “Suzy is a Bonehead”, “I Killed the Prom Queen” and “Goodbye Sonia”. Catch them if you can and follow them on all of the socials, since they are a lot of fun! I also definitely couldn’t help but buy some of their merch, with that really rad looking JERK! logo on it!
Southern California legends D.I. took the stage next and among the Ramones shirt-ladened crowd, it seemed that The Observatory was packed full of D.I. fans. Even the stage security guards were incredibly excited about D.I. playing that night, something you usually don’t see among security at a punk show. D.I. did not disappoint one bit. They played the hits, the fans danced and D.I. once again proved why they have legend status in the punk world. I’m not going to speculate the ages of D.I., but as a veteran photographer that has been shooting every punk band over the last 15 years, it was almost impossible to keep lead singer Casey Royer in focus! (Dude, I shoot manual focus — you’re killing me!)
The stage was set and the crowd was in full frenzy for the headliner — Marky Ramone’s Blitzkrieg.
I didn’t know what to expect and had no idea if it was going to be original songs or quite possibly Ramones songs…? The last time I saw Marky Ramone, it was with his band The Intruders back in the late 90s at the now defunct Showcase Theater out of Corona, California (a second home for most inland empire punk rockers from the 90s). Marky stepped out and walked up to the mic and simply said “Hello”. He spoke very humbly and almost seemed shy to do so.
I’m still not sure who the other musicians were that are in Marky Ramone’s Blitzkrieg, but they absolutely ripped! Yes, they covered Ramones songs and, yes, it was absolutely awesome. The band had the look and feel of The Ramones and Marky put on a hell of a show. The guitarists (bass and guitar) were incredible, executing perfect Ramones harmonies. Playing the backbeat we all know so well was Marky. Everyone was singing along to every song; these songs have not only been remembered and rehearsed and studied by everyone in attendance, but are embedded into the psyche of our culture. These are punk rock hymnals. This is the punk rock bible.
This is punk rock.
It was a great night at The Observatory, a great night for punk music and a great night for the culture that comes with it. It gave me a huge sense of nostalgia and a huge 70s punk rock vibe… so much so that I even created my very own vintage 70s filter in Lightroom (a photo editing software), to go along with the mood I had felt that night! I hope everyone that reads this article and looks at the photos gets that same sense of nostalgia and can feel how enduring punk rock culture and its community really are. After all, this was all supposed to be a phase we are going through back when it was invented. Now, we have bands that are celebrating 20/30/40 year anniversaries! We have bands that are ‘retiring’. Go out and see them all while you can! Maybe punk will be around forever, but you can bet that these bands won’t. They will only live in our record collections and in our memories soon. So, go out and buy that ticket, travel to another state, buy all the merch. This is a community that we all built ourselves and it will only keep going as long as we keep it alive.
Photography by Billy Beans