Preview: Johnny Rad Fest Marks Half-Decade of Rock'n'Roll Mayhem in San Diego

By Jason Gelt

San Diego’s punk rock legacy stretches all the way back to the Injections anarchic Killed by Death classic, Prison Walls, which was released to an uncaring world in 1980. Since then bands have come and gone, often beckoned away by glossier opportunities elsewhere. Craig Oliver, honcho of local label Volar Records, has called the city home for 14 years, but only recently did he watch a scene coalesce. “There wasn’t a whole lot in terms of a collective effort for a while,” he says.  “The past two years have been good as far as there being a handful of really good acts that are all willing to play together and all really supportive of each other, and outside the ‘let’s try and make it big’ mentality.” Underneath the soothing Mediterranean climate and swaying palms, Oliver sees creative juices flowing into darker, moodier musical activities. “Here in San Diego there’s sort of this pressure to always have a sunny disposition,” he says. “But there’s definitely a good amount of people who aren’t into that and would rather stay at home at night making weird music.”  

Although most of the featured bands hail from other cities, the annual Johnny Rad Fest–Southern California’s one-and-only garage punk shindig–has become a welcome addition to San Diego’s punk pantheon.  The Fest celebrates its fifth year between August 17 and 18, when the Kensington Club will fill with the smell of sweat and Pabst and the raucous sounds of such garage rock luminaries as Nobunny, Mark Sultan, King Tuff, Audacity, and Shannon and the Clams. Previous years have featured The Spits, Reigning Sound, Hunx and his Punx, Pierced Arrows, and the Sneaky Pinks, although there are always two constants, like the gleaming North Stars of Rad Fest: “Every year the Half Rats play,” says Tyrone Taylor, the affable Hoosier who organizes the festivities.  “We pretty much started it to get them to come hang out, because we’re all friends from Indiana.  And every year there’s going to be one of Ryan Wong’s bands, since he basically started it with me.” 

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Half Rats  “Lost in Reality” from Johnny Rad Fest 2011.

Filmed by J-Lee

Brixton Presents: Johnny Rad Fest 2012

This year’s Johnny Rad Fest is this weekend!

Brixton is proud to bring you the 5th Annual Johnny Rad Fest on August 17th & 18th in San Diego, CA. The Johnny Rad Fest is 2 nights of shows with artists we support and follow.

We have an awesome line-up of bands including King Tuff, Nobunny and Mark Sultan aka BBQ. Good times will be had by all, come on out!

Be sure to visit our Official Johnny Rad Fest page for info on tickets, and booking rooms with our partner hotel The King’s Inn.

Goddamn Johnny Rad fest is so fucking badass. In San Diego this was going down while I was here in lame vegas probably doing nothing that night. I fucking need to move to Cali ASAP. Fucking Shannon and the clams, Mark Sultan, Nobunny, King Tuff, and so many others I could have discovered and were probably just as great. Don’t reduce my suffering to first world problem memes, I should have been here!