It's time to say goodbye to Budget Rock
MUSIC On the final day of Budget Rock 10, the endmost moment of the Budget Rock showcase itself, there will be pancakes and local '80s surf-punk band the Phantom Surfers. Likely a few tear stained cheeks as well.
The daylong event at Thee Parkside — which tops off four days plus 10 years of weirdo, trashy, slack rock shows — also features the annual morning record swap and a ticketed evening lineup that includes the Legendary Stardust Cowboy, the Mothballs, Midnite Snaxxx, and Okmoniks, amongst others.
The organic pancake batter, donated by former Thee Parkside co-owner Sean O'Connor, will come in a pressurized can (he created Batter Blaster), while the bands, many brought back together specifically for Budget Rock, will come to the venue courtesy of Chris Owen and his longtime fellow organizer, Mitch Cardwell.
This year's fest, Thursday, Oct. 20 through Sunday, Oct. 23 at Bottom of the Hill and Thee Parkside, not only brings back Phantom Surfers from the first ever Budget Rock showcase, but also returns Boston's Lyres, the classic '80s punk band formed from the ashes of DMZ. Organizers also recruited bands that played subsequent years — the masked Nobunny (this time playing original budget rock-esque covers), Subsonics, the Statics, Personal & the Pizzas (whose first ever show was at Budget Rock), and booked a Ripoffs reunion show — a coup for Owen, who's been a fan of the '90s garage rockers since college.
"The fact that Lyres and the Ripoffs are playing in San Francisco in the year 2011 is fucking incredible," Owen enthuses from his perch at Gio's, an old school Italian FiDi spot he says reminds him of Thee Parkside when he first started going there in late 2000. "Carpet on the ground, tablecloths on the tables." (Obviously things have changed immensely since then.) But it was there, sharing beers after work with his friend John O'Neill, that Owen says they first came up with the idea for a Budget Rock showcase — a term he borrowed from another of his all-time favorite bands, the Mummies (which he later got to reform for Budget Rock 8). Owen and O'Neill had both been booking shows at the venue, and came up with the concept to concentrate all the then-scattered acts.
That first fest took place in 2002. Including the 2011 showcase, 190 bands will have come through Budget Rock. Over the decade it survived a move to the East Bay for a couple of years (to the Stork Club), lead organizer shifts (Owen bowed out for most of last year as his wife was pregnant) and the general chaos of unrefined rock'n'rollers. O'Neill vividly recalls when Peter Zaremba of the Fleshtones ran outside mid-song onto 17th Street to sing to a Muni bus that had just pulled up. And Phantom Surfers' guitarist Maz "Spazz" Kattua claims "All I remember about [Budget Rock 1] was that we played in matching boxer shorts with hearts on them and sock garters."
So why end it now? Owen chalks it up to two main reasons: the organizers of Budget Rock are in different spots in life (he now lives in Fairfax with his wife, son, and baby daughter); and the influx of other like-minded showcases like Total Trash and 1-2-3-4 Go's contribution.
"You want to fill a void, not create one," says Owen. "That is the guiding principle. The whole concept of this festival was filling a void, there wasn't anything like this. There was no local garage rock or kind of dorky minimalist music showcase [then]."
Plus, he says, "Once we got to six [years], we knew we would shoot for 10. And we were like, 'if we can get to 10, we should get Lyres to come back.'"