Flyers from 1977 Los Angeles
Essay by artist, Mark Vallen
collected, and created, some of these flyers from concerts
I attended during the late 70's and early 80's.
DECLINE OF WESTERN CIVILIZATION
was filmed in 1979 and 1980, and still stands as one of the
best documentary films about LA's early punk scene. While
working at SLASH magazine
I was lucky to meet the film's producer, Penelope
Spheeris, and I became marginally involved in the production
of her film (I produced the subtitles that appeared onscreen).
I also created some of the promotional posters and flyers
for the film's release. I slapped together the 5 x 8 inch
flyer at right which was used to advertise the movie's run
in Hollywood. THE DECLINE featured live concert performances
with Catholic Discipline, The
Alice Bag Band, Circle Jerks,
Black Flag, Germs,
Fear, and X.
were one of LA's first punk outfits, and their concerts were
always riotous affairs. Early on they issued flyers featuring
the artworks of Raymond Pettibone,
a fellow whose nervous pen and ink drawings mirrored the disturbed
angst of the band. This particular drawing features a pair
of conservative parents throwing their punk daughter out of
the house, with the angry father yelling: "Let your peculiar
Hollywood friends take care of you!" The flyer advertised
a concert at the infamous Hong Kong
Cafe, a venue in LA's historic "Chinatown"
district where many punk bands played.
CIRCLE JERKS epitomized southern California's loud,
fast, and angry sound, and artist Shawn
Kerry did quite a few terrific flyers for the band.
This one advertised a 1981 concert at the California State
University of Northridge, featuring the BAD
BRAINS, CIRCLE ONE, and
PUBLIC NUISANCE. Kerry's humorous
graphics gave an insider's look at the punk scene, showing
punkers slam dancing, drinking, rioting, and otherwise engaged
in "good clean fun." Kerry also created remarkable
images for the bands D.O.A. and
MASQUE was LA's very first punk rock club, opening
in 1977. Located in a back alley basement on a run down Hollywood
street, the club featured all of LA's best punk bands. This
flyer advertised a benefit concert for Flipside Magazine (one
of LA's first punk zines), featuring the DICKIES,
and the surrealist ARTHUR J AND THE
GOLD CUPS. Artist X-8
created this flyer using a photo of one of Hollywood's first
punks, a female Masque regular named Trudy (she's holding
an early issue of Flipside). X-8 created the logo for Flipside
and was of the publication's original founders.
AVENGERS were one of San Francisco's original punk
bands. This flyer advertised a MASQUE
sponsored concert that took place at Bace's
Music Hall in Hollywood. After the Masque had closed
in 1979, punk clubs sprouted up like fungus all across LA.
Most were storefronts or shabby halls rented out for a weekend,
Bace's being one such venue. The AVENGERS were one of the
first punk bands from SF, and their highly political lyrics
and aggressive sound made them one of my favorite groups.
Their vocalist was a beautiful young woman named Penelope
Houston (shown in the flyer). Before breaking up in
'79, the band released an album that was produced by ex-Sex
Pistol, Steve Jones.
GERMS played with MIDDLE
CLASS and BLACK FLAG at
this 1979 Hong Kong Cafe concert.
An anonymous artist used a photo of a mental hospital patient
combined with the type: "A law unto themselves."
The caption to the photo reads: "All designed to give
people a better understanding of some major problems of contempory
life." As you might imagine, the tiny little venue exploded
was one of the first Los Angeles punk bands, and they swiftly
gained international notoriety with their bone crunching melodies
and unique LA take on things. More than any other band, X
helped focus the world's attention on LA as the center
of the punk movement in the US. This 1980 flyer appeared soon
after the release of the band's first album on SLASH
Records, and it announced two nights of concerts with Chicano
punkers, The Brat.
GERMS were LA's most controversial band. The outfit
fronted by Darby Crash embodied
all of the rage, nihilism, and chaotic energy of the early
LA punk scene. Having attended most of their "performances"
I can personally attest that their concerts were more like
riots than anything else. Crash would wail and thrash around
with unbelievable abandon, and the band would cripple it's
audience with an unrelenting cacophony of punk noise. This
terrific flyer by an anonymous artist announced a set of concerts
the band played at the Whisky a Go Go.
The artwork shows a group of authoritarian looking fans wearing
Germs armbands. The small headline in the upper left corner
reads:"What God means to me..."
WEIRDOS were one of LA's first punk bands. I became
aware of the LA punk scene in 1977
while walking down Hollywood Blvd. and seeing flyers like
the one at right posted to telephone poles. The WEIRDOS certainly
lived up to their name. The sound of their music was razor
sharp and threatening, but with a tinge of comedic madness.
The band combined their inflammatory sound with dada aesthetics,
and their bizarre on-stage behavior and dress made you actually
wonder if they were sane. The band's graphics also presented
surrealist images that were strange and impenetrable. This
flyer for a 1977 concert at the Whisky
presents photos of the band members, their bodies punctured
by shards of broken glass.
DECLINE OF WESTERN CIVILIZATION
opened in Hollywood in 1981, but not before the city was plastered
with thousands of these ominous posters.
created the simple design for the film's director, Penelope
Spheeris, and it
was wonderful to see the posters stuck all over the dirty
streets of Hollywood... truth in advertising at last!