Gnarmageddon II Featuring: Negative Approach – Stalag 13 – Knife Fight – Coke Bust – Media Blitz and Many More – at The Observatory – Santa Ana, CA

June 23, 2012

Promising to be “bigger, better” and “gnarlier” than last year’s event, Gnarmageddon II evolved into an experience that brought significant changes to the fest, most notably by bringing the noise from Pomona to Orange County. The change of venue from Glasshouse to The Observatory also allowed the performing bands to be distributed between two stages rather than just share one stage.

Gnarmageddon II also enabled the performances of two BIG acts: Stalag 13 and Negative Approach. The two contenders were supported by Aukerman, Chest Pain, Hordes, Trench Rot, Media Blitz, In Defence, ACxDC, Soul Search, Coke Bust, Magrudergrind, Dangers, and Knife Fight.

Doors opened at 5 p.m. and people were already purchasing tickets ready to go in and stay in. The first bands to play the Constellation Room and main stage respectively were Aukerman and Chest Pain. Throughout the event, bands did not play the venue’s two stages at the same time, but rather alternately.

It was during Hordes’ set inside the Constellation room that it became apparent how many people were present for Gnarmageddon II, and how many more would eventually pack the room. During Hordes’ set the band’s vocalist performed in the pit, meanwhile fans pushed, shoved, and hardcore danced all around him.

Trench Rot performed at the main stage immediately after Hordes and held the ground down for the old school 80’s hardcore sound, executed with the modernity of new hardcore. Once their set ended, everyone migrated over to the Constellation Room to experience the ferocity of Media Blitz.

Not surprisingly, Media Blitz performed for a crowd that seemed to devour every bit of sound that the band produced during their set. Typically when a band performs newer releases rather than old songs, crowd reactions tend to be less than enthusiastic, but Media Blitz proved to be the exception to this. The band’s new songs caused explosive behavior from the crowd all the same, and during their cover of Dead Kennedy’s “California Uber Alles,” fans were constantly flying into and out of the stage.

After Media Blitz’s set, it seemed that the next band was going to have a hard time topping Media Blitz off, but In Defence managed to provide a completely different experience, most prominently through a comical aspect. In Defence’s set was not only fast paced, but full of comedy, jokes, and laughs. The band’s vocalist made dedications to “taco punks,” “pizza punks” and the most important thing in the world: boobs. The band’s vocalist also made sure to teach the audience about the philosophy of pizza, and the importance and impact pizza has had on punk rock.

ACxDC took the stage inside the Constellation Room and altered the face of crowd surfing forever… or at least for the night. Prior to the band’s performance, the band’s vocalist handed out boogie boards to the crowd, and immediately into the band’s first song crowd surfers and stage divers utilized their boogie boards on top of people’s heads.

Soul Search followed and for the first time the entire night, the main action in the pit consisted of solely hardcore dancing. The band’s music predominantly maintained the sound of new hardcore.

Coke Bust performed afterward and by this time, the venue was so abundant with people that if you failed to rush over to the Constellation Room, you had no choice but to experience the band from the hallway that led into it. The area outside the Constellation Room was packed full of people who sought to experience Coke Bust’s hardcore songs.

Magrudergrind completely changed the sound and atmosphere with their east coast presence. The band held a variety of sounds through their different songs, embodying grindcore, powerviolence, and hardcore.

Words cannot describe the force and impact of Dangers’ set. Right from the start, the band radiated an energy that unleashed a fury of cataclysmic antics, with fans climbing the heads of others to reach the band’s vocalist. The goal seemed to be to end up face to face with the vocalist and scream along to each song. The band relayed personal thoughts regarding love of dogs, anti-homophobia, and overall social criticism.

Knife Fight brought back Gnarmageddonites to the main stage and finally allowed the crowd to remain at one stage for the rest of the night. The band encompassed everything hardcore in sound, stage presence, and especially in the vocals.

When Stalag 13 finally hit the stage, the emotion of the audience rang through within opening song “No Excuse.” The venue seemed to be full beyond capacity and this also appeared reiterated by the crowd’s collective singing and support. Crowd surfing reached an all-time high as the band performed songs from their album “In Control” and paid their own tribute to hardcore by performing Minor Threat and Agression covers.

Finally, the cherry on top to a night of hardcore punk was none other than Negative Approach. Unlike Stalag 13’s audible vocals, Negative Approach’s vocals maintained cacophonous and furious vocals that manifested the anger that IS hardcore.

With the promise of “bigger, better, gnarlier,” Gnarmageddon II provided a fresh and different batch of bands from last year’s event, allowing the event to be all the more remarkable with the reunion of Oxnard’s renowned Stalag 13. Until next year, in the words of founders Jason Schwartz and Danny Lyerla, “Stay gnarly.”


More photos of the show can be seen HERE

-Stephanie M.-

Big Wheel Senior Staff Reporter

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