Steve Soto Memorial Birthday Party at Alex’s Bar; Family, Friends, and a Hell of A Lot of Excellent Music!
Friday, 8/24/19 – Alex’s Bar, Long Beach, CA
Just shy of 14 months after his death, the shock of the sudden departure of Steve Soto rocks the punk scene while family and friends continue to memorialize him at every opportunity. The Adolescents, founded by Soto in 1981, immediately changed their iconic Blue Album self titled logo to read SOTO and the mere mention of his name at a show drops the eyes of all in attendance in an impromptu moment of silence and respect. Last night Alex’s Bar hosted a surprise filled evening in honor of Steve’s birthday. The sold out show was a true nod to one of punk rocks most prolific legends, bringing together family and friends from Steve’s multiple, legendary punk bands. Guests of the event included Greg Hetson (Circle Jerks & Bad Religion) who took the time to pay his respects from the audience along with Steve’s father and other family members, some of whom took the stage in his memory, making the evening both a personal memorial for those who were closest to Steve and an evening of punk rock mayhem. Listening to stories of Taco Tuesdays in Steve’s back yard and tales of being on the road writing songs with Steve from the people who were close to him, including family members Chad and Katie playing classic songs from Steve’s repertoire, was a gift and time well spent.
Greg Antista the Lonely Streets is comprised of Greg Antista (lead vocals, songwriter, guitar), Jessica Kaczmarek (lead guitar, backing vocals, mandolin, piano), Warren Renfrow (bass), and Jorge E. Disguster (drums, backing vocals). The members’ previous group affiliations are extensive: Antista (Joyride, Foxy), Kaczmarek (The Busstop Hurricanes, Russell Scott & the Hot Rods, Bourbon Jones), Renfrow (Cadillac Tramps, Manic Hispanic, Final Conflict, and tours with Adolescents and the Damned, among others), Disguster (Mr. Mirainga, D.I., Mink Daggers, CoDependents, Disguster).
In 1979, Antista was classmates with members of Adolescents, Agent Orange and Social Distortion at Troy High School. He especially became fast friends with Steve Soto (Adolescents, Agent Orange) with whom he would later form the band Joyride. The two remained close up until Soto’s death last year at the age of 54. In tribute, the Lonely Streets’ sole cover on their LP is a sweet, melancholic take on Soto’s 2016 tune, “Forever.”
The Vulturas opened with a crowd favorite, “Fractured” and singer, Louie Perez III (son of Louis Perez, Jr, songwriter, percussionist, and guitarist for the legendary band Los Lobos), wasted no time jumping into the crowded floor scene where he proceeded to participate in the circle pit activities with the enthusiasm of a punk youth. Rob Milucky (Devil’s Brigade) lends a sound of seasoned experience on guitar while bassist Shane Strange and drummer Eric Fuller deliver youth and passion to this new and exciting sound that is the Vulturas. They were tight and demanded the attention of the crowd as the most actively upbeat band of the event. The Vulturas brought an energy that was infectious, drawing people in to form a huge pit that covered the entire floor area of Alex’s Bar and maintained its activity throughout their set.
Manic Hispanic performed an unannounced, Spanglish riddled, set with the energy and love of music that has made them scene favorites. With the loss of band members Gabby Gaborno and Steve Soto in the last two years, Manic Hispanic played a pivotal role in the evening’s festivities, showing that this Chicano-based band is quite literally unstoppable. They had fun, giving permission to the fan-filled bar to cut loose and laugh and dance and let some steam off. With Elvis Cortez (Left Alone) on guitar, Manic Hispanic did a pumped up set that got everyone ready for Adolescents and made the already memorable evening a true highlight of the year. Ending their set with the promise, “We are going to finish the new Manic Hispanic album for Steve and Gabby” Manic Hispanic left the sold out venue pumped up and ready to party with headliners, Adolescents.
In honor of the memory of Steve Soto and in all due respect to band members past and present, it is my humble opinion that last night’s performance by Adolescents was their best performance in years. Maybe it was the mood of the event or the fact that Alex’s Bar is so small and intimate, a throw back to their humble beginnings on the Southern California punk sconce in the early 1980’s. Whatever it was, it was amazing. Adolescents were hard-core, playing early favorites with the energy and raw anger that made them punk rock staples. They brought an enthusiasm to the stage that spilled into the already pumped up audience to create a steamroller of sound and excitement. The pit was a throw back to a time when punk rock was hard and the fans were harder, yet a sense of brotherhood and the air of the intention of the event maintained civility among the chaos. It was magical and mind numbing and it continued to escalate as the band played. Adolescents did a killer rendition of L.A. Girl, marking the moment I felt satisfied with the promises of night. From the sense of familiarity to the amazing surprise guests to headliners Adolescents pulling out all the stops to do Steve Soto’s memory proud. The event was a success and has hopefully found a permanent home at Alex’s Bar should its promoters decide it warrants annual event status.
– Sarah Tonin
13 Stitches Magazine