The Queers at Bottom of the Hill, by Jon Ching
The Queers (photo: Jon Ching)

Face tats, mohawks, patched black vests and piercings were the norm at Bottom of the Hill Saturday night, showing that the Bay Area underground punks are alive and well. Some of my favorite characters of the night were the senior citizen wearing a leather-strap collar and sporting a cheetah-dyed buzz cut and the pink-haired, chest-tatted woman with only an “X” of blue duct tape that at any moment could prove to #freethenipple. A rainbow of hair colors and all styles of Doc Martens filled the quirky Bottom of the Hill as the bands conducted the rhythm of the crowd.

The NERV opened up the night with strong pop-influenced punk, getting the crowd warmed up.  The Memphis Murder Men, aka “the world’s second-greatest rock and roll band” kept that heat going, delivering high energy punk-steeped rock and roll. The five-piece punk ensemble played hard and gave due credit to Little Richard and Chuck Berry for paving the way, warning the young kids to learn their history and check their place before exploding into more mosh-able tunes.

Local band Annie Girl and the Flight was a bit out of their crowd but in no way out of their league, playing the main supporting slot of the night. Their powerful, well synchronized psychedelic flavor was a unique sound at this show and was very well received. A wide range of tempos created their set and bridged the punk gap and united the rock lover in everyone. Even the hardest members of the crowd found themselves embraced with their arms around each other’s shoulders, swaying to the psych-laced melodies before Annie Girl and the Flight kicked into thrash mode and ignited the pit.

It had been a while since my last punk show and it was nostalgic to see the angst, camaraderie and self expression that is a mosh pit. The entropic swirl of sweaty bodies dictated by the collective is something that can only be perfectly achieved with fast-playing punk rock, and that was what The Queers came out to do. The pit never ended because the music never dropped, with songs picking up right where the last song ended. Leaning into the crowd and shoving his guitar in his fans’ faces, front man Joe Queer demanded the pounded fists and middle fingers thrown his way while they chanted in synchrony to his punk lyrics. Sweaty and simultaneously exhausted and enlivened, it was the perfect way to spend an evening before Easter Sunday.

Photos by Jon Ching