In the five years since Ian O'Connor began booking local punk shows in and around Santa Rosa, first under the moniker of Pizza Punx and for the last two years under the name Shock City, USA, he's brought a world of underground rock and roll to the region for the young generation of North Bay music fans.
It's been an up-and-down year for Shock City, USA. In April, O'Connor announced that the group and its schedule of live events was likely coming to end after this year. "Our streak has just about run its course," he wrote on social media, "and soon it will be time to move forward with other life pursuits."
While the last few months have been quiet on the punk front, Shock City is back this week with a new and diverse show featuring nationally touring Memphis punk band Ex-Cult, French post-punk outfit Badaboum and North Bay noise rock act OVVN all performing mind-melting music on Oct. 23 at Atlas Coffee Company in Santa Rosa's South of A arts district.
Formed at the legendary Memphis dive bar the Lamplighter, Ex-Cult is a power-packed five-piece who incorporate influences that range from classic '80s hardcore and post-punk to '60s garage and psych-rock. The Southern-fried fiends have a fondness for the North Bay and return for their third show in Santa Rosa with Shock City. Fronted by the reverb-drenched vocals of Chris Shaw, who also works with the likes of Ty Segall in the band GØGGS, and featuring blistering guitars and breakneck beats, Ex-Cult never fail to impress.
Experimental all-star girl group Badaboum make their Santa Rosa debut at the upcoming gig, and if their 2018 self-titled debut LP is any indication, local audiences haven't heard anything like this. From the opening organ swells and plucked bass lines to the eerie theremin and strained vocals, this group sounds like someone let the Phantom of the Opera out of his lair and made him watch several Italian horror films. Truly unapologetic in its angst and explosive in its ethos, the music of Badaboum walks the razor's edge between joy and chaos.
Filling out the bill for this show is hometown favorite OVVN, who, writes O'Connor, "are back at it with more musical offerings that probably sound like an old [Steve] Albini project that never happened."