No Values Punk Festival Delivers Danzig, Iggy and Crowd Surfers to Pomona

Crowd surfers and moshers represented at No Values - All photos by Alyson Camus

Photos and review by ALYSON CAMUS

POMONA, Calif. – The parking was a nightmare, the crowds were huge, and the heat was blazing. But if you were in a punk mood, the inaugural punk festival No Values at the Pomona Fairplex was the place to be last Saturday.

No Values delivered the best in punk – All photos by Alyson Camus

I knew it would be a challenge, a physical challenge, and this started right away. Even people who showed up around noon got stuck in horrible traffic: Miles and miles of lines of cars not moving for minutes, then hours from what I have heard. Like a few others, I could not stand being in my car any longer and chose to park two miles away then I walked to the gate under the hot sun.

No Values at Pomona Fairplex covered five stages – All photos by Alyson Camus

The following day, I read a lot of comments from people who got stuck in their cars for three or four hours before getting to the parking lot, so I made the right choice. I still don’t understand how the organizers didn’t see this coming. It sounds like there was a bit of a lack of planning ahead: 28,000 parking spaces were available on-site, 40,000 tickets were sold during the pre-sale, and tickets were still on sale at the door, so the actual number of people who attended the festival is still a guess!

Crowd surfers were on hand in masses – All photos by Alyson Camus

Imagine an all-punk festival, like Punk Rock Bowling except you don’t need to drive to Vegas to get there. No Values, by Goldenvoice, looked bigger and bolder than PRB with 48 acts in total and five stages spread apart on the large fair complex. Musically, No Values sounded quite uniform, just like its audience: There were tons of black punk T-shirts and hoodies, plenty of tattooed arms and legs, an army of Doc Martens, and lines of Mohawk hairdos. The audience for punk rock is old and young but mostly old, or at the very least middle-aged.

T.S.O.L. – All photos by Alyson Camus

Gary Tovar, who started Goldenvoice in the 1980s by throwing DIY punk rock shows in his hometown Santa Barbara – because the established venues were scared of this kind of music – showed up a few times on the Hold Avenue stage, introduced as the good old friend of T.S.O.L., Suicidal Tendencies and Bad Religion … Since its humble beginnings, Goldenvoice has evolved beyond recognition and is now behind the biggest concerts and giant festivals (Coachella, Stagecoach, Cruel World, Just Like Heaven…). No Values is the latest adventure to date and it looked everything but humble but it was a sort of back-to-basics: The underground scene once promoted by Tovar offered to the masses. A long way from the pop-hip hop fest that Coachella has become and a testimony that punk rock is not dead.

Iggy Pop performed a few classic punk tracks – All photos by Alyson Camus

But what to do when there are so many bands on five stages packed in one long afternoon-evening? You can always wander from one stage to the next and barely see anything: Even early afternoon, the crowds were so large, that trying to get a decent spot on any stage immediately became a real challenge. You can also pick a stage, try to get to the front, and stay there the entire time. This is the option I picked when I managed to get close to the rail at the Hold Avenue stage whose lineup sounded good (Iggy Pop and the Misfits, two of the biggest acts played there). After two acts, I got to the rail, and it was too good to move around: I held the rail for long hours but I got a big FOMO feeling all day long. But what can you do?

All photos by Alyson Camus

Everyone at the festival got a different experience depending on the bands they saw and I know that I missed a LOT. I would have loved to have seen Jello Biafra who popped up to sing Dead Kennedys songs with Agent Orange. I also remember seeing the very dangerous Dillinger Escape Plan years ago and could not see them this time. I would have loved to see Social Distortion on the Mission Blvd stage although I read that the sound was not at its best. Also, I have a big regret for skipping Viagra Boys on the Garey Avenue stage, but even though I had changed my mind, I would not have been able to do so: At 9 pm, the crowd that had packed the Hold stage to see the Misfits was so dense that it was physically impossible to move even my arm.

Jack Grisham – All photos by Alyson Camus

T.S.O.L. was the first band I got to see up close while the crowd was already in a full mosh pit mood. Frontman Jack Grisham was wearing a bright red suit with the effigy of the devil in the back and the letters “T.S.O.L. RULES.” He looked fantastic. More imposing than ever, he was calmly walking the stage with his usual swagger, commending the crowd with songs like “Superficial Love,” “Abolish Government / Silent Majority,” “Code Blue,” and a few others.

All photos by Alyson Camus

The entire afternoon was a giant mosh pit turning like a fury behind me, while security guards caught crowd surfers non-stop. My eyes on the stage, it was, at this point, quite difficult to realize what was going on, and I crouched a few times when a crowd surfer arrived in the pit above my head.

All photos by Alyson Camus

With skateboarder Mike Vallely on vocals, Black Flag, or rather Greg Ginn’s version of Black Flag, took the stage for another round of punk classics, accompanied by more moshing and crowd surfing. Vallely is no Henry Rollins (how could he be?) he is probably far less dangerous, but he is charismatic enough, and the songs were pure Black Flag rage and atonal guitars: “Nervous Breakdown,” “Wasted,” “Gimmie Gimmie Gimmie,” “Six Pack,” “Black Coffee,” “Rise Above”… and of course “No Values,” the song the festival was named after.

All photos by Alyson Camus

The Garden brought a much younger punk-rap energy, plenty of discordance, and an in-your-face aggression as well as a new crowd of young females, who disappeared when their set was over. There was a giant Joker puppet who was moving on stage with twin brothers Wyatt and Fletcher Shears. All I can say is that they sounded different from the rest of the bands I saw during the entire day.

Suicidal Tendencies – All photos by Alyson Camus

There was such an insane but positive energy during the set of Suicidal Tendencies that the scene looked like a competition speed mosh pit. This one was definitively wild and large, people were flying above my head and I had a good idea of what was going on behind my back even though I couldn’t see anything. It was pure chaos. Frontman singer Mike Muir can command the crowd like no other and he constantly encouraged the crowd while running around the stage non-stop, and even jumping into the audience. It got a bit scary as the entire crowd seemed to be one big entity pushing and moshing at the sound of “You Can’t Bring Me Down,” “Subliminal,” “Institutionalized” and a few others. I learned a bit later that the young bassist was Tye Trujillo (son of Robert Trujillo, currently with Metallica) and the drummer was Jay Weinberg (Max Weinberg’s son).

All photos by Alyson Camus

The much more melodic songs of Bad Religion may have been a bit easier set to survive while the crowd surfers never stopped. Gary Tovar (who had already come back to praise ST) reappeared to tell us “Never underestimate Bad Religion.” Greg Graffin and his band’s good sense of melodies with words that matter gave to the crowd a powerful set of punk classics (always appropriate for our times) such as, “Los Angeles Is Burning,” “New Dark Ages,” “My Sanity,” “We’re Only Gonna Die,” “Sorrow,” “21st Century (Digital Boy),” “American Jesus” and many more.

Iggy Pop – All photos by Alyson Camus

Iggy Pop and his Miami tan erupted on stage, wearing a vest he removed after just one song, as usual. I saw him several times last year and his set was a bit different but not very much, diffusing the same raw energy with his signature limp. He is the survivor of a generation, trashing the stage with Stooges songs like he is used to (“T.V. Eye, “Raw Power,” Gimme Danger,” I Wanna Be Your Dog,” Search and Destroy”) then singing the old beloved classics (“The Passenger,” “Lust for Life”) and not resting much despite his age (77!). Even though most of the kids around were too young to remember the Stooges, the lyrics of “I Wanna be Your Dog” and “Raw Power” were on every lip! Iggy was joined by Nick Zimmer of the Yeah Yeah Yeahs plus an alluring horn section that gave all the punch to the set. He even did “1970,” a Stooges song he hadn’t done solo since 1989.

Iggy Pop – All photos by Alyson Camus

Closing the day, the original lineup of the Misfits took the stage around 9:30 pm, and by that time, it looked like the entire festival crowd had packed the place. With the Misfits, it’s Halloween every day: they dress up as if they were about to audition for the new Tim Burton movie and they had even brought a giant pumpkin on stage. By far, it was the toughest set to survive. Too many fans wanted to be close, and the number of people who crowd-surfed to escape the mayhem was impressive.

All Photos by Alyson Camus

Security guards were catching a few crowd surfers every minute, and some of them looked exhausted or even hurt! Why people do that to themselves is beyond my comprehension. It was difficult to follow the show with all this craziness around but Danzig’s voice was as powerful as I remember – I saw him doing his Elvis show a little while ago. The setlist was very long, and they couldn’t play everything on it, and if they performed classics like “Vampira,” “Some Kinda Hate,” “Where Eagles Dare,” “Hybrid Moments,” “Attitude,” “Die, Die My Darling…” almost all songs were received with the same over-the-top enthusiasm and unleashed fervor coming from the crowd.

Misfits – All photos by Alyson Camus

Danzig kept telling us they had to shut down the festival: “They are already mad at us because it’s past 11 pm, but fuck them!” They came back for an encore of two songs and it was over… No Values closed with a few knee bruises, plenty of broken glasses on the ground, some lost iPhones, and plenty of memories. Will it be back next year?