Every Friday and Saturday night in East Los Angeles, whether the weather is decent or not, you can usually find three or four backyard punk gigs, populated by the angrier demographic of Chicano adolescents who are too young to legally get fucked up at bars but harbor an innate passion for desmadre (chaos!).
There are no promoters, no contracts, no set times and no set lists, just an informal network of eager young artists ready to play at a moment’s notice. They tend not to care if they get paid, so long as they get to show off their stuff and score a few beers.
I grew up on the Eastside and discovered these DIY parties as a prepubescent. Despite its reputation, my end of town is not all bald dudes and gang warfare; being into punk rock, metal or skateboarding can help you escape that life. After all, as I discovered, if you have long hair or tight pants, you are considered a “rocker” and usually left alone.
“In backyards, it feels more at home. It’s way wilder and has bigger pits than at bars or venues,” says Edgar Fernandez, the drummer and lead singer for popular local band the Zoo, who play backyard shows every weekend. (Their members hail from Garfield High School, made famous by Stand and Deliver.)