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August 23, 2007 / chrisisgross

sf vs. la: the bands in the 70’s

the 70’s can be divided in two halves neither of which have much to do with disco. this is not an indictment of disco, but the genesis of disco was in the east and it was not as big of driving force here. the first half deals with the sunset of the 60’s psychedelic through the first half of the 70’s and the rise of punk during the second half.

first the slow decline of the 60’s psychedelic scene. with many of the paragons of music passing away or ending up as shells of their former selves the scene in sf was much quieter. the major moment of haight/ashbury and the end of the summer of love was such an intense bright burning moment that it took a number of years to recover in the city itself. however, the east bay was only beginning to become a driving force awesome funk bands like sly and the family stone, tower of power, betty davis and even santana creating rhythmically driven music that sought to keep the energy of the 60’s alive by keeping it moving.

in la the country influence of the byrds and the excesses of hollywood was represented by jackson browne, the eagles, joni mitchell and to some extent the byrds themselves. all of these artists dealt with addiction and with pain during this time in their lives.

the darker side of los angeles as i wrote yesterday was main influence of the music of la while in san francisco the openness of the city allowed musicians to explore new styles and expand their sounds and ideas.

the late 70’s saw the rise of punk. with the specter of the vietnam war still fresh and the ineffectual government of jimmy carter the idylls of the 60’s were officially dead. bands from sf and la were springing up. the edge though was clearly to bands from la.

the softer side of sf and its culture of inclusion made it rather difficult to create a scene that was a vital as the gloom and destruction of la and the south bay. however, bands like the dead kennedys, chrome, ssi, and flipper all were able to make their marks by fusing their politics into the music continuing the tradition of political radicalism that this city is so proud of.

in la you had the complete collapse of the dream that many of the children of the 60’s had moved to la with. there was no fame no fortune and the city and the surrounding areas showed this disintegration. the stagnation and anger of the bands reflects this. bands like x, the germs, and the weirdos were the base of the la scene. this early influence spread to the suburbs of orange county with the adolescents, tsol, and social distortion taking up the flag. finally you had the south bay which produced two of the greatest west coast bands of that era black flag and the minutemen as well as the descendents and the cirlce jerks. all of the bands in la were much more anarchic in the sense that they loved drinking, fighting and a complete breakdown of the cultural meme.

diy was started out of the south bay(to some extent) with black flag going on crazy tours with no idea what they were doing. with nothing to lose the la scene was asserting its influence and as the 80’s came on the horizon the influence was only going to get stronger.

black flag-rise above

dead kennedys- california uber alles


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