Face to Face: 25 Years of SoCal Punk, The Visual History
How best to preserve the moment when a band makes it big, when a band makes a mark on your life, when a band goes from “Meh…” to “YEAH!”? There’s always the official releases, then the bootlegs (do kids still buy those?). Then it’s on to YouTube and of course cell phones. Ephemera survives: a poster you pulled off a light pole, a selfie while stage diving, and stories to bore your offspring: “Yeah dad, we heard about you are puking with Siouxsie Sioux, why do we care?” Somewhere in this puddle of anti-social historic pus we might find the visual documentary. The band has its clan: beyond the musicians and roadies and girlfriends and boyfriend some bands are lucky enough to have a decent photographer tagging along. A guy with a real lens, a light meter, a sense of visual composition. Face to Face is one of those lucky acts, this 99-page collection of pix takes us on their journey, and makes it real and alive 30 years hence.
Face to Face came out of the second wave of LA punk; and they came from that sparkling metropolis of Victorville. The first wave mixed a variety of styles as musicians and audiences sorted out the chaos. The heartbeat of the scene came from the skaters as they invaded public space with antics and music. Face to Face made their sound track, and the pictures here document the party. Like so many bands, Rodney Bingenheimer broke them on KROQ, and their sound populated film obscurities like Tank Girl and one of the lesser National Lampoon flicks Senior Trip. Lead by Trever Keith, they’ve done all the usual stuff: they broke up and reformed, they rotated out drummers and Bassists, they entered into such side projects as Me First and the Gimme-Gimmies and spawned 10 albums along with the usual collection of EP’s, live recordings and probably a few flexi-disks.
Now’s they’ve released this loving retrospective of backstage shots, posters and and adoring fans. I’m unclear on who took the pictures or who edited this book, but that’s not the point. What this book does is focus on the band. Face to Face plays, parties, agitates. The fans are here, too: fighting, dancing, skating and dating. Twenty-five years goes by, and each year gets a picture and a bit of text by a fan, a roadie, or a fellow musical group. Mixed with the pictures are posters, graffiti, and fan comments. Paging through this book mimics finding an old high school year book: do you even remember these fellow travels? Were you really at that show? Can any of it be real? Its nostalgia, certainly, but the best kind: nostalgia made by willing participation in a chaotic scene that you’ll never get back to. It’s your real life, you need this on the coffee table.