On Sunday January 20th, Martin Luther King Day weekend, Santa Ana’s Unit B opened up a safe haven for wayward teens and young adults to skateboard and socialize to exceptionally good music. Though the indoor skate park turned underground punk rock venue was established a few years ago, Unit B has gone through constant renovations in the past 6 months. The once presumably vacant warehouse has changed over the years from a “speakeasy” indoor skate park to one of the go-to independent rock venues in Orange County. In contrast to The Observatory, Unit B’s increasing presence in Santa Ana complements the city’s underdog spirit. Without the stress of having to go to school the next day, Surgeons, Laughters, Dead Waste, Bombon, Stab City, and Unstoppable Death Machine showed appreciation for the Holiday by bringing big sounds to the spacious environment in a show co-presented by Bored To Death and Lo-Pie.
In punk rock fashion, the music was unapologetically completely unpredictable. Avoiding clichés, each band had a genuine quality to their sound that negated any pre-conceived notions based on marketable appearances. Oakland experimental-punk band Laughters used synths, drums, and a beat pad to express detailed thoughts of self-reflection. The band’s stone-faced bravado felt like one of a conscious hip hop group, bringing together aggression and flaring style, and making it hard not to two-step in a mosh pit. Other acts that shared the same unique capabilities were Bombón and Unstoppable Death Machines.
Bombón’s crowd-pleasing set put the audience a good mood for the remainder of the show. Keeping it strictly surf rock, the three highly likable girls echoed the same fun and frisky music that Quentin Tarantino always ends up using in his films. Despite receiving every boy’s undivided attention, the pressure didn’t make the band hesitant, but in fact heightened their performance. What was even more infatuating about them, besides the obvious (music, fellas…), was no matter the increase in tempo, their iron-like composure made them the most laidback band playing that night. Cutting the chill session off short, Unstoppable Death Machines switched on the once relaxed crowd’s adrenaline once they stepped on stage.
Due to the stalled preparations of some of bands who performed earlier that night, Brooklyn-based twin brother duo Unstoppable Death Machines was the secret weapon that lifted some of crowd’s tired punk spirits. Clearly the most awaited band, U.D.M. left the skate bowls vacant and the front stage occupied. Dominating the venue with a Bane-like strap-on vocoder mouth piece and brutal instrumentals, U.D.M. possessed an originality that most punk bands have been missing since the late 80’s. Parallels between punk and skateboarding were forged as small mosh pits and skateboard sessions formed as U.D.M. played on. Accident free, the band received the biggest ovation of the night.
Breaking new ground has been the motto for many bands experimenting with various types of music and connecting them in a universal aspect. Because of that, branding the event as a punk rock show would be too easy, just like calling Unit B a skate park would be. Renovation is vital when it comes to progression, as long as authenticity remains unchanged. Like Santa Ana itself, Unit B’s transition into the music scene is indeed beneficial for positive recognition in the community. Hopefully future successes will prove Unit B and Santa Ana to be prime resources for cultivating a bigger music scene.