This weekend, when thousands upon thousands of nerds and fanboys clog the freeways heading for San Diego, take heart and press on: If rock 'n' roll is your bag, the only event worth the grueling trek is the 3rd annual Johnny Rad Fest.
A celebration of underground garage rock and punk, Rad Fest has quietly made a name for itself as the only California garage fest worth its salt, besides, perhaps, the Bay Area's Budget Rock festival.
From Thursday through Saturday, the storied Tower Bar (one of the best watering holes in the entire world -- and maybe the only dive bar known to have a patron die when a car crashed through a wall) and the Ken Club, a punk rock venue that knows no match in Los Angeles (they have Tokyo Electron and Nobunny on the juke box, people, not to mention generously poured whiskey on the rocks for less than $5!) play host to an exciting array of killer bands from as far away as Indiana, Seattle and Phoenix and as close as Oakland.
Dig the 2010 line-up:
Much could -- and has been -- written about many of these bands, but the obvious heavy-hitting highlights are, of course, The Zeros (one of the best old-school SoCal punk outfits ever to grace a vinyl groove with kick-ass music), Nobunny (masked bubblegum punk mayhem), the Spits (Brit-voxed skate punkers with a hard-to-match stage show) and Tokyo Electron (Ryan Rousseau's thundrous Arizona garage beast). If you care to make a mix tape for the ride South, here are a few of the records you should add to the mix to prepare for the Fest.