In the wake of San Francisco independent music venue reopenings, the city’s music scene has been partially revitalized following COVID-19 logistical complications. In line with this revival, Knockout, a bar in the Mission District, hosted a punk show presented by Psyched! Radio Sept. 24 and featured Bay Area bands Buzzed Lightbeer, Trash Vampires, Thank You Come Again, and Gorgeous Dykes.
Buzzed Lightbeer, who describe themselves as “SF fem slop rock,” a sub-genre mixed of grunge, ‘60s garage rock, and blues, were the first to take the stage. Their sound is reminiscent of American punk rock bands like Destroy Boys. They began the show on a high note, with loud, distorted electric guitar riffs, heavy drum beats and basslines, and brought a lot of raw energy to the small bar.
Following Buzzed Lightbeer was Trash Vampires. According to its lead singer and guitarist Mark Gee, the band’s name originates from The Halo Benders song “Your Asterisk,” in which there is a line referring to someone as a trash vampire.
“I was that trash vampire,” said Gee. “And then I summoned the rest of my garbage piles and we started a band.”
During their set, audience members could be seen crowd surfing to the band’s songs like “Man of Wax.” The song comes from their album “Not Anger, Anxiety,” which features heavy, loud instrumentals and hardcore vocals.
“The vibe is there, the love is there, the energy is there,” said show attendee David Hill in reference to Trash Vampire’s set.
Influenced by American rock bands Papa Roach and Smash Mouth, guitarist and self-titled “spiritual leader” of the band Jared Amdahl described their sound as “garage rock or grungy.”
“They always told me to just listen to Smash Mouth on repeat to prepare for the shows,” said the band’s new keyboardist, Darren Ivano.
This was Trash Vampire’s second performance since live shows resumed in the city. Gee described the resumption of playing live shows as “wildly stressful,” which was met with nods of agreement from the rest of the band’s members.
“For me, it’s hard to know when it’s right to play a show,” said Ivano. “It’s a constant battle between determining whether it’s appropriate to go out for health concerns, but also the people need music and we can provide that, so how do we balance consideration for people’s physical health with [that of] their spiritual health?”
For the members of Thank You Come Again, it was their first show since Feb. 2020. Lead singer and guitarist Izzie Clark described the band’s genre as “an explosion of every past mistake and future hopeful dream that you ever want, with a side of speed metal.” Their energetic set had the crowd moshing and people head banging at the front of the stage.
Thank You Come Again’s origin story began with Clark and guitarist Danny Lomeli meeting outside of Cafe du Nord on Market St. in 2018. Clark had approached Lomeli for a lighter and in return told him a joke, which led to a conversation about music. Candid connections like these were missed when lockdown caused the widespread closures of many independent music venues in the city.
“I thought I was gonna be nervous and scared, but it actually just felt very comfortable and I was ecstatic to play again,” said Clark, a senior media studies major at USF.
“The pandemic happened right as we were starting to play more shows, so that was rough at first,” said Oakland-based artist Lucy Bayne of the Gorgeous Dykes, a new wave, post-punk band who closed out the night. Bayne and her partner, fellow frontwoman Ana Ayon, both said it was overwhelming to be around such a large number of people.
Despite the nerves from performing and an uncomfortable interaction the couple had with a man who tried grabbing Ayon’s hand as an attempt to hit on her after their set, Gorgeous Dykes were filled with excitement over sharing their music live once again. They said that they used the time during quarantine to evolve their style and take more risks with their music.
“The songs we were most looking forward to were the last two in our set, ‘Diablo Creek’ and ‘Swords Reversed,’” said Ayon, describing the songs as dancey and fun. “We get really playful on the guitar and bass and really enjoy the energy they have.”
Back in May, the Foghorn spoke to venue managers involved in the SF Venue Coalition, an organization created to support independent music venues, to get more insight into how venues had been impacted by the pandemic. Mickey Darius, the manager of The Lost Church, said that venues struggled just to stay afloat, with over 100 SF venues shuttered.
Darius had predicted the reopening of venues to be “clunky” but with a focus on safety. “This means seeing what does or doesn’t work,” said Darius in an email to the Foghorn in May. “Not relaxing in our vigilance around safety and care, but having patience around accepting that the road will be bumpy and mistakes will be made.”
Venues now have to follow the city’s COVID-19 guidelines in order to host events. This includes audience members wearing masks and proof of vaccination being shown at the door.
“I work in a couple of venues so enforcing the mask mandate is very hard right now, especially when it gets hot in the pit, it’s really hard for people to keep their masks on,” said Clark.
Thank You Come Again’s fill-in bass player Eva Seay, a San Francisco State University cinema student, echoed Clark’s concerns. “I felt safer being onstage than in the audience,” they said. However, they did appreciate the crowd’s energy and said they welcomed audience interaction.
“You could tell they were having a great time, which is the most important thing,” said Seay. “It was not an angry energy, everyone was just stoked to be there, and that was great.”