No Values Festival: Mishaps and Epic Moments

by Colette Claire (100% written by a human)

The first No Values Festival took place on Saturday June 8th, in Pomona, California. No Values is the latest event from concert promoter Goldenvoice, famous for inventing Coachella, one of the most profitable festivals in the US. A smaller, genre-themed festival similar to the new wave event Cruel World Fest, now on its third year, No Values line up was ridiculously packed with the cream of the crop of punk music. Goldenvoice, who puts on festivals primarily in California, actually started as a small promoter of punk shows, so No Values was a chance for them to get back to their roots. 

With acts like the original Misfits, Social Distortion, Iggy Pop, Bad Religion, a recently reunited Sublime, the Vandals, The Exploited, Fear and Turnstile, this was certainly an ambitious endeavor to pull off, especially in only one day. When the flyer for the show was first released, many on social media thought it was one of those fake wishful thinking flyers people sometimes create, the line up was so packed with punk headliners. Considering this, many are calling it a success despite the atrocious parking issues getting into the festival.  Let’s just hope Goldenvoice is going to work on the logistics if they decide to make this an annual event.

Here’s an account of my day at No Values Fest on June 8th.

Watch the Live Stream where we discuss the festival below, but also, keep reading…

As we got into the car that morning, the excitement was palpable. We had carefully picked out our outfits for a day in the dusty heat of Pomona. After all, it is punk rock, a genre known for its gritty sound and angry anti-establishment lyrics, so it seems fitting to be a little dirty while it’s happening.

10:45am – We put on our favorite punk playlist and head east. The drive to Pomona is fairly smooth as we soak up the pre concert jitters: That mixture of nervousness and excitement when you know you’re in for an arduous and fulfilling day of music. 

12:00 pm – We start to exit the freeway towards the fairgrounds and hit some traffic heading to the festival.  It was annoying but not anything we didn’t anticipate. As we sat on the freeway off ramp, expecting the steady trickle of traffic that usually occurs when driving to a large event. 

1:00pm – There is no steady trickle. As we sit in the middle of the freeway exit, we have not moved at all. People began to make dangerous maneuvers, driving in a non-existent lane next to us to get around the line, only to come back 45 mins later forcing their way back in line. It becomes clear there are no traffic officers anywhere to be found. We are on our own in this chaos.

Massive punk rock music festival creates traffic nightmare

2:00p. Another hour gone, but hope springs eternal as we actually make it off the freeway and into the turn lane to get on the street that heads to the festival. Maybe we will see T.S.O.L afterall.Young people are popping out of cars and running the nearly 3 miles to the festival in order to not miss their favorite bands as their parents bravely stay with the vehicle. 

3:00pm Enthusiasm is gone. Only bitter determination. People are literally fighting in the street over being cut off. I desperately dream of having a helicopter and a parachute. We lament missing the Addicts, but hang on to hope of seeing T.S.O.L. and The Dead Milkmen. Pomona Police drive by but do absolutely nothing to help. Unless you had a 

4:00pm OK there goes T.S.O.L and The Dead Milkmen. Things get mercenary. We’re just hoping we get to see the Misfits at the end. We’re running out of gas from sitting idle with the air on. We seriously consider heading home despite losing the collective $500 we spent on tickets. I end up peeing in a bottle in the car. I determine this is the worst gridlock traffic I have personally ever experienced at a concert, festival, in Los Angeles as a whole, or in Las Vegas, combined.  

5:00pm A miracle has occurred. We finally get into the parking lot. We park in the first space available not realizing it’s still very far from the gates where you get in.

5:30pm Finally inside, we begin navigating a small punk rock city. With 4 stages and a total of 42 bands plus Jello Biafra’s DJ booth, it was hard to regroup after the Mad Max film we just lived through outside.  Of course, it was hot and we were sweaty, with tons of walking to be done and long lines to stand in for basic necessities, and it quickly became clear that having an agenda at this festival is out the window, so we must go with the flow. 

My husband, sound engineer Joshua Munson, and myself, Colette Claire at the Festival

The chaos of the multiple stages created a frenetic atmosphere as we moved around the festival. Picking out the thread of a song from the cacophony of sound, one would suddenly tune into one band playing and then another. We stopped to listen to Sublime, then turned a corner and heard Fear. In another area we heard Suicidal Tendencies. It was something akin to a punk rock amusement park. 

There was a lot of buzz around the Dillinger Escape Plan performance since it was their first since 2017. The band reunited to celebrate the 25th anniversary of their 1999 debut album Calculating Infinity. They played the album in its entirety for the first time with original vocalist Dimitri Minakakis and founding guitarist Ben Weinman, who is currently playing with Suicidal Tendencies as well. Also joining were bassist Liam Wilson, drummer Billy Rymer and guitarist James Love. Jello Biafra jumped on stage with them for a rendition of the Dead Kennedy’s “California Über Alles” and they also covered Minor Threat’s  “In My Eyes”, with Mike Muir joining in on vocals.

Just after this, Ben Weinman had to jump from the Mission Blvd stage to the Holt stage to join Suicidal Tendencies. Unfortunately, the sound kept going in and out during their set and it was really hard to distinguish what they were playing, especially with the sounds of Sublime competing in the air from the nearby Mission stage. Suicidal Tendencies always brings a certain level of energy to their set and the band seemed undeterred by the issues with the unwavering Mike Muir as their front man. 

Footage of Suicidal Tendencies

Suicidal Tendencies on Stage

Then we turned our attention to Sublime. While the sound still had some issues, the drums and vocals overpowered the rest of the band, it was difficult to be deterred from the overwhelming nostalgia of hearing Bradley Nowell’s son singing Sublime the way it was meant to be heard. Jokob Nowell, who wasn’t too happy with Sublime with Rome to begin with, has taken over as lead singer with other original members Bud Gough and Eric Wilson, whom Bradley once named his son’s co-godfathers.  Sublime with Rome are doing a farewell tour this summer as Sublime plans to continue with Jakob. While Sublime with Rome was fun and had some good songs, I have to agree that there is something that feels right about Jakob standing in his father’s shoes.  With the echoey sound and the delirium of the day, one could swear you were hearing the original Sublime with Bradley, his son’s voice is so similar. They opened with one of my favorite Sublime songs “Date Rape,” from 1992’s 40oz to Freedom album. This song was the band’s first radio hit that introduced them Southern California. Before they became world famous just a couple months after Bradley’s passing from a drug overdose in 1996. Because of this, a lot of people never got to see Sublime, and this is about as close as you’re ever going to get. Keeping in mind of course that Jakob is his own man, who, at 28 years old, had his own band, has even done a stint in rehab, and his voice does have different nuances. I’m really hoping a US tour is planned for these guys.

Jakob Nowell fronting Sublime

Then we decided to check out the merch booth and happened upon the band Fear’s entire performance with decent sound while waiting in line. The pioneers of Southern California hardcore punk brought a level of energy and professionalism to their tongue in cheek brand of punk playing hits like “New York’s Alright If You Like Saxophones,” “I don’t care about you,” and “I Love Livin in the City.”

Colette Claire Rocks Out to Fear

Then, we traversed the desert lands back to the Holt stage to see Bad Religion, on the same stage Suicidal had been on but with some improvement in the sound. Bad Religion, the thinking man’s punk rock band, did a solid set focusing on a lot of their newer material and not just pandering by playing hits which I respected, especially at a festival.

Footage of Bad Religion

The perpetually shirtless Iggy Pop also gave as energetic a performance as one can expect at the esteemed age of 77. Iggy is a proto-punk icon who helped form the Stooges in 1969 and has lived through a lot, so we definitely can cut him some slack if for no better reason because of the bravery of still refusing to put on a shirt. Playing some of his better known songs like “the Passenger,” “Lust For Life,” and the Stooges classic “I wanna be your Dog” Iggy delivered what casual fans would want to hear. A smart move as the frenzy waiting for the Misfits was starting to build up.

Footage of Iggy Pop

Iggy Pop on stage

I caught a glimpse of Social Distortion set, a gallant effort after Mike Ness’ recent battle with tonsil cancer and just coming off a tour with Bad Religion.  Recently, due to his health issues, Ness had to have surgery and re-train himself to swallow,  talk and sing. This being one of the only shows in southern California (their tour went through Bakersfield and Santa Barbara), the crowd was eager to see the hometown favorite. Their set was more subdued than usual, but fans sat rapt none the less with a collective sign of relief that Ness is still going strong.

Footage of Social Distortion  

The Misfits, essentially the headliners of the festival, playing with mostly original members except for drummer Dave Lombardo, were in rare form. Their energy and precision at playing some of the dirtiest, most offensive punk music was remarkable. Danzig seems to have gotten a chance to rest his voice over the pandemic, which he adamantly complained about in his between song banter, as he was a lot more solid and clear in his delivery compared to previous performances. Danzig was very chatty with the crowd, at one point asking what songs we wanted to hear next. Since the Misfits entire catalog can be played in a couple of hours, I assume the band is well rehearsed in all of it. Who knows if he truly just chose based on what the audience shouted out or if he was going to play what he was going to play anyway and gave us the illusion of choice. Either way, you felt the energy coming off the fans and the band feeding that energy back to them. They played such songs as “Hybrid Moments,” “Bullet,” “Who Killed Marilyn,” “I Turned into a Martian,” and of course the obligatory “Attitude” and “Last Caress.”

The stellar performance by The Misfits, as well as the history making moments like Sublime’s second show with Jacob Nowell, Mike Ness’ triumphant return home, and Dillinger Escape Plan reuniting, made it worth all of the heartache. 

Hopefully, Golden Voice takes note of working out the bugs if they do decide to make this punk family reunion an annual thing.

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