Editor’s Note: We are delighted to bring back Bud Stratford to our editorial lineup. Bud has a very unique take on skateboarding and he we know you’ll enjoy his stories.
Whenever Adam Richards plans a big day out, it’s always a day worth remembering.
Adam’s an incredibly motivated guy. He started out as the chief organizer of The Gray Beard Crew, the Phoenix area’s “old-guy skate club”. About a year (or so) into the Grey Beard program, there was some internal drama and dissent with the various Grey Beard founders. Of course, I had no idea at all that there were other Grey Beard founders; I’d always just assumed that Adam was the sole founder of the Grey Beards (probably because of his highly visible and infectiously energizing profile in the local skate scene)… but apparently I was mistaken on that one. In any rate, Adam left The Gray Beard Drama to start a parallel crew called “Prevent This Tragedy”.
It was around that time that he confided in me that he was organizing a “Skatercon” event for the following spring; the resulting Phoenix Skatercon was nothing short of a smashingly successful funfest for everyone involved. Making the short leap to local punk rock show organizer was probably the next logical step in Adam’s ambitions.
When most people think of a punk-rock show, they probably think of exactly that: a punk-rock show. Where you go and watch bands play music. Adam doesn’t think like most people; when he plans a punk-rock show, it’s an all-day adventure. My day started promptly at 7:00 am with a loud alarm, a shave (my head, not my face), a shower, and a big breakfast, so that I could be at Union Hills Skatepark in Glendale at 8:30 am sharp. That’s where the pre-show skate session was going to be, and I wasn’t going to miss the pre-show skate session for the whole damn world. Why more skaters don’t think to put together a pre-show skate session before the show is way beyond me, because it only makes perfect sense!
Union Hills is one of Phoenix’s many wonderfully free, concrete utopia skateparks. There has to be about ten of these skateparks spread around the valley; living here does kind of spoil me, I have to admit. There’s a “street” course that resembles a broken-up mini-bowl with obstacles; a very expansive mid-height bowl (about 6′ deep) with hips and corners everywhere; and a deeper, “Offset 8” shaped bowl that’s probably a solid 9′ feet deep, with about a foot (or so) of vert. This bowl is where the heavy action was going down under Ryan Swick’s fearless leadership, with an assortment of bullish grinds (stand-up frontsides and Smiths), lipslides, and sweepers. Lanny Kearns was stunning the bystanders with burly backside and frontside inverts.
Chuck Treece (of McRad) came along to ride, and laid down lines all over the midsize bowl. The energy level was pretty high, and positively charged; it seemed like everybody was trying new stuff, and having a blast going for it. It was a photographer’s dream day, really.
Phoenix routinely clocks in high temps of well over 100 degrees, even in early September. Because of that, we had a bit of a siesta scheduled between noon and 7pm, when the doors were scheduled to open at the Yucca.
Helene (my date for the evening) and I got to the Yucca promptly at 7:00. Strangely, everybody else in charge got there promptly at 7:00, too. How refreshingly odd for skaters to actually show up, on time, and as scheduled.
Because we were so prompt, Helene and I scored the best seat in the house; an extremely plush and comfortable corner booth, where we could max and relax in style. The Yucca is a fairly old-school, historic venue (having been established in 1974, which was the beginning of time by Phoenix standards).
The Earlygrabs (the local favorites) and Since We Were Kids (a solid skate band hailing from Southern California) both put together slashing, punk-infused sets of overwhelming amplitude. Since We Were Kids were also peddling some mighty fine Grosso-shaped pool cues that you might wanna check out (they probably have an online merch store somewhere, like most bands do these days).
DFL was probably the most aggro of the bunch; their lead singer decided to screw the stage altogether, and sing straight from the pit…! How incredibly ballsy! Helene and I got a great gut laugh out of that one; you definitely don’t see that kind of gumption every day. The crowd, of course, ate it all up. It was quite a party in the pit, and everyone seemed to have a blast.
McRad was the headliner of the show. If you haven’t heard of McRad… well, you should have heard of McRad. They were Skate Rock staples on all those Thrasher comps we remember as kids; Chuck Treece also contributed a lot of tracks to the early Bones Brigade videos, most famously to Ray Barbee’s part in Ban This (ahh, it’s all coming back to you now!). Chuck’s still an extremely talented and energetic performer; watching him shred on stage, you’d be hard-pressed to imagine Chuck as a guy pushing his 50’s. He still looks (and plays) like somebody half his age. And all the guys in all the bands were just the nicest, coolest, most down-to-earth bunch of folks you could ever dream to meet. Hats off to them all.