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September 22, 2023

Saloon Room erupts with hardcore punk volcano

A slate of bands brought hardcore and punk energy to the Saloon Room at the storied Brookdale Lodge last Friday.

Despite the growling vocals, thrashing sonics and aggressively swirling bodies in the circle pit, the Aug. 11 event—featuring Mondo Chaga, Curb Creeps, Bastard Machine and SLAM—had an uplifting feel to it.

“I think it’s very cool up here,” said Dusty Clark, a 17-year-old who has friends in the Curb Creeps and SLAM. “I’ve never been to this place before.”

It’d been a while since he’d had the chance to witness the insanity of the Curb Creeps.

“I haven’t seen ‘em for over a year,” he said. “It’s hardcore and thrash rock.”

He’d arrived with his 48-year-old dad, Highway Clark.

“We love all music,” said Highway, explaining they try to support local acts. “He went to school with kids in both bands.”

The pair had a secondary motive for attending. Highway was eager to source an audio/visual apprenticeship, of sorts, for his son.

“We do lighting and speakers,” Dusty said.

Their inquiries seemed to be landing on fertile ground with a venue that’s still in the process of renovating sections of the building damaged in last winter’s storms.

Concert goers join a circle pit as bands perform inside the Saloon Room. (Drew Penner/Press Banner)

JoAnn, a woman in her 60s who didn’t want to give her name, was visiting from Penn Valley with her husband Ken. They’re also former Santa Cruz County residents.

While they said they had no plans to join the mosh pit, they were also pleased to hear there was an event targeted toward youth occurring at the hotel.

“At least they’re doing something,” she said. “They might not have a day job. They’re not trying to change the world. But at least they’re doing something.”

Sitting amongst a group of punks, and sporting a “Kook Slayers” hat, Justine Leonard, 52, said she was excited to see Curb Creeps and Bastard Machine.

“I like music, so anything I do on a Friday night has to do with music,” she said. “I love events in the mountains.”

They’d decided to rent a room for the night, she notes.

“That’s what I love about this whole area—is they help each other out,” she said, adding, “I spent my honeymoon here.”

With her hat, she wasn’t repping a band, she explained. It’s actually the name of a clothing company started by her tattooist, Jared Foster, and his friend. But it didn’t come with the bill curled up, in characteristic punk fashion. That’s something she did herself.

“I taco-roll all my hats,” she said. “For me, it’s like an old school thing.”

Friday’s show got underway a little before 9pm with SLAM, a group of young performers who instantly connected with the crowd. 

A YouTube video posted by Bosskid1 shows that as intense as Curb Creeps’ set was, the atmosphere wasn’t vicious. It captured the guitarist headbanging so hard his hat came off, but also a woman in the audience with a giant smile on her face.

At events like these, there’s just a certain energy that’s hard to describe, mused Highway.

“Everybody’s laughing; they’re jumpin’ around on stage,” he said. “You meet cool people.”

Drew Penner
Drew Penner is an award-winning Canadian journalist whose reporting has appeared in the Globe and Mail, Good Times Santa Cruz, Los Angeles Times, Scotts Valley Press Banner, San Diego Union-Tribune, KCRW and the Vancouver Sun. Please send your Los Gatos and Santa Cruz County news tips to [email protected].


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