In SOMA’s “Dungeon” at 555 Union, downtown, San Diego’s premier purveyors of anthropophagic rock flail away at half-strung electric guitars, drums, the walls, the crowd, each other, and their equipment at a volume reminiscent of the PSA North Park plane crash.
Punk. It’s not going away. In fact in San Diego, it has taken on a more bizarre permutation than was promised or conceived 20 years ago.
The shadow of that rough beast, punk, roused from idiot slumber, from dreams of CBGB and the Mudd Club, has slouched toward the Gaslamp district and is waiting to go on. That four-headed beast — pale, bloated and staggering under the weight of a case of Milwaukee’s Best, hurriedly guzzled, belched, and farted in Peter Small’s van in SOMA’s parking lot — calls itself Dahmer’s Diner.
Small is the guitarist and spark plug behind Dahmer’s Diner, though he denies he is the band’s leader. “It’s a democracy,” says drummer Corn, sometimes known as Corn Alias. It is useless to attempt to pry a real name out of the percussionist. Small prefers his nom de guerre as well.
Members of DD are killing time and a case of beer with friends in the darkened vehicle. Small’s form can be made out in the light of a nearby street lamp. Closely shorn blond hair reveals an ovoid head set off with startlingly large, electric blue eyes, like luminescent robin’s eggs. Small is a large man; 24 years old and six feet tall, he wears a black T-shirt and baggy, frayed black slacks. In the half light of the street one can imagine him in another time with a Heidelberg scar along his cheek and black turtleneck, a U-boat commander glazed with lager. Corn is elfin, wiry, huddled like a thief in the shadows, his shoulder-length hair limned with a gaslamp halo. The others in the van are only voices, sinister silhouettes.
“I hate the whole racism thing,” Small is saying, “Me, personally, I hate about 90 percent of the human race. I don’t care what fuckin' color they are, what sexual preference they have, nothin’. People just suck. The Rodney King thing pissed me off so bad. I was outraged to the fullest. I’m not sayin’ I was shocked to see cops beating a person. That shit happens 24 hours a day. It’s what it turned into, the riots, the Reginald Denny thing... I would love to fuckin’ murder every racist in this world.”
Jeffrey, the bass player, in a sleeveless shirt, takes a leak outside the van and returns. A tattoo on his forearm looks to be a kind of coat of arms with the word “Kelly” beneath it, but he passes into and out of the light too quickly to see his face or study the tattoo. “If it makes people think about something and show some emotion, then it’s done its job.” Jeffrey says. “There’s so many people who don’t, like, show emotion and stuff like that. I want people to learn about shit. Like, if they see something that could go either way...[they should] find out about it instead of just making an assumption by what they see only. Did I use the word right? Assumption?”
“We’ve got a song, man,” Sam, another shadow, the singer, lyricist, and Jeffrey’s twin brother, speaks up from around a can of beer. “We’ve got a song that deals with that, it’s called ‘Burn in Hell, I’m a White Man.’”
“It sounds,” I venture, “as if the band’s real hard-on is with hypocrisy.”
“Define that word,” Jeffrey asks. I do.
“Oh, hypocritism. Yeah, yeah. I hate that.”
The opening acts on this Saturday night’s all-punk review, Product, Deadpan, CTD (Construction Through Destruction), and the Riverbottom Nightmare Band have prepared the crowd for the headliners by lobbing musical Molotov cocktails at the congregation of skinheads, punks, children, hustlers, junkies, speed freaks, XTC fools, ball-bearing-eyed bouncers, existential desperados, and shell-shocked stragglers from SOMA’s upstairs concert hall.
At 11:00 p.m., the bad boys — among a handful of not-very-good-in-the-first-place boys — of San Diego’s punk scene take the stage like a patrol of long-range reconnaissance grunts seizing a hot landing zone. Members of Dahmer’s Diner quickly salvage any microphones, patch cords, mike stands, amplifiers, and monitors that haven’t been wasted by previous skirmishes and launch into a barrage of eighth notes like raking gunfire over the mortar fire crumpcrumpcrump of the bass drum. Singer Sam Quentin, 24, looking like a vampire scarecrow in black leather and dyed jet hair, screams the only words that will be intelligible for the next 40 minutes, Morrison’s line, “NO ONE GETS OUT OF HERE ALIVE!” With that nod to Love Songs of Ancient Aquaria, the band hurls itself into an original piece, “Rodney King Pinata,” a puckish reggae satire with all the musical subtlety of C4 explosive and the lyrical nuance of a street corner psycho with Tourette’s Syndrome screaming at God into an out-of-order pay phone.
Later, in order to retrieve the lyrics, Quentin has to close his eyes, bob his head as if imagining the stuttering chatter of M60 fire or a high-speed, multiple-18-wheeler pileup on the freeway. He chants the words as quickly as they can be spoken in a slurred frenzy.
RODNEY KING PINATA
- Pinatas come in many different shapes and many sizes
- I see the man with a stick in his hand an evil plot, he got an evil plan.
- Little Piggy and the stick that he got
- "Go on man, we got to stop 'em to stop!"
- I, I don ’t wanna he a pinata etc.
- Think it’s a party, they kick me in my ass
- Standing around me with their baseball bats
- knock me to the floor, they kick me in the head
- video shows that they all want me dead.
- Pot-smokin' man above me
- got the baseball bat, try to hit me from a tree
- hang me from a rope, say that I’m no fun
- try to hit me, now he shoot me with a gun.