On Saturday, November 4th, the Oak Canyon Ranch pulsed with an electrifying energy that was alive and powerful, creating an unforgettable opening to the Punk in the Park festival. As the clocks ticked closer to their annual reset, it appeared as though we found ourselves transported through the decades, at least that’s how it felt, diving headfirst into the unrefined raw essence of punk rock. A lineup of legends ignited the stage, and this piece spotlights the standout performances of the day.
We arrived just in time to catch the closing chords of Guttermouth’s final song on stage and witness the explosive entrance of Greg Antista & The Lonely Streets who came out swinging with style. These musicians are a force of nature, deeply embedded in Orange County’s punk scene, and they wear that legacy with pride. With Greg Antista leading the charge, Frank Agnew on guitar, Warren Renfrow on bass, and Jorge E. Disguster on drums, they elevated the atmosphere with a performance that had the crowd moving to the rhythm. Their infectious energy and catchy tunes are always an absolute delight, and at Punk In the Park, they didn’t miss a beat.
Our next stop led us to Drain, representing Santa Cruz, unleashed their brand of unadulterated mayhem. Their performance felt like a rollercoaster ride, filled with unpredictable twists and turns that kept the crowd on edge, leaving them hungry for more.
The Suicide Machines
Returning to the main stage, The Suicide Machines wasted no time delivering their electrifying Detroit ska punk sound. Lead singer Jason Navarro remained true to his craft and distinctive sound. During their performance of “S.O.S.,” he ventured into the photo pit, engaging with the audience up front, packed tight on the other side of the barricades. Like a cracker of dynamite, these guys radiated an infectious and explosive energy.
Back at the Beunavara stage, a moment brimming with anticipation awaited. Out of the corner of my eyes, none other than Leonard Graves PhillipsandStan Lee were spotted, the luminaries of The Dickies, the trailblazers who ignited the LA Punk scene back in ’77. The Dickies are straight up legend and prominently featured in the upcoming book, “IN PRINT: The Articles of Maggie St. Thomas.” In a heartwarming gesture, they signed a copy of the author’s book before gracing the stage.
The Dickies delivered a blazing performance, proving that some things, like their timeless artistry, remain beautifully constant. Their set, including the captivating cover of The Moody Blues’ “Nights In White Satin,” set the crowd ablaze. Their presence was an absolute delight, both in terms of appearance and sound; they were nothing short of phenomenal!
Making our way back to the main stage, the iconic British punk bandGBH, who came together in ’78, brought their tour to a dominating close with a powerful performance at Punk in The Park in Orange County.
Their show was loaded with intense vitality and pristine sound. The event’s security team tirelessly helped fans over the barricades during GBH’s set. Lead singer Colin Abrahall belted out beloved anthems, including the timeless classic “Am I Dead Yet.” The raw, unfiltered energy that GBH exuded was utterly infectious. Colin concluded with heartfelt gratitude: “Thanks for having us; it’s been a great fucking tour!”
The Circle Jerks, led by the indomitable Keith Morris, stormed the stage, and the crowd’s energy reached its zenith. Oak Canyon Ranch transformed into the epicenter of punk rock. The energy of the bands and the crowd were exactly what we all needed.
After the show, I met up with Greg Antista and Jorge E. Disguster.“Playing these festivals is always a blast; it’s a win/win for us. Not only did we get to play, but we also got a chance to catch up with old friends, make new ones, and see some of the people who inspired us to start making music in the first place. We can’t thank Punk in the Park production team and crew enough for their hospitality,” remarked Jorge E. Disguster. Greg Antista added, “It was really special for us to be included in the Punk in the Park lineup this year. Orange County finally has a world-class Punk Rock festival that is here to stay and that’s something to be proud of.”
Jason Navarro, lead singer of The Suicide Machines, reflected on the event upon returning to Detroit: “When I travel these days to play shows it’s more because I want to see old friends. Catch up on things in person, not on a social media platform. Occasionally you get a real surprise and see someone you haven’t seen or talked to in 30 years. I love it when that happens. GBH was awesome to see again, I haven’t seen them play since 1989. “
In retrospect, Punk in the Park Day 1 proved to be a high energy rockin’ journey through a handful of legendary acts of punk rock history and its pulsating and raw presence on the scene, and exceeded all expectations. The convergence of music artists, the crowd, and the uncontainable energy all infused together to create an unforgettable experience. For those fortunate enough to have been in attendance, it was a day etched into memory, while this review, accompanied by frozen moments in photographs, serves as a reminder that the spirit of punk rock continues to reverberate and thrive.
Anticipation for future Punk in the Park events is already building; the venue, tucked away in the canyon, offers unrivaled sound, and fans can revel in music at whatever volume they desire.Looking forward to more Punk In The Park events in the years to come!