There’s a reason that Napa and Sonoma are known as “Wine Country,” not “Music Country,” but recent efforts have endeavored to bring the music festival experience to an area that’s understandably known more for great food and drink. Over Memorial Day weekend, the Napa Valley Expo hosted the relaunched BottleRock Napa Valley, which drew tens of thousands to see Outkast, The Cure, and a lineup disproportionately heavy on ’90s radio stalwarts. Just a few days ago, the Huichica Music Festival served up an indie-oriented two-day fest at the Gundlach Bundschu Winery in Sonoma, a venue that often hosts bands like Real Estate and Foxygen as they head up or down the coast.
That’s great news for North Bay music fans, but what about the bands native to the North Bay? Over the years, up-and-coming bands have found homes in DIY-oriented spaces like the Arlene Francis Center and Petaluma’s Phoenix Theater. More recently, the Pizza Punx collective has emerged, booking affordable and all ages shows that feature local and touring garage and punk bands in Santa Rosa houses and venues alike. As collective member “Mama Pizza” told The Oak Leaf earlier this year:
“It all started because we were tired of there not being anything rad happening in Santa Rosa. If you wanted to go see a good show, you always had to drive to San Francisco and Oakland,” she said. “Santa Rosa is not that out of the way for most bands on tour. The only reason they didn’t stop here is because there was nothing happening, so we changed that.”
As you’ll hear in this mix, there are a lot of very exciting recent developments in North Bay punk. Rohnert Park’s Ceremony gained national acclaim a few years ago with the stellar Zoo on Matador Records, and Creative Adult, which just released its debut LP Psychic Mess in February, seems poised for big things. Both bands are part of a member-sharing array of groups that also includes The Vibrating Antennas and The Down House. All of these groups have an audible strain of punk or post-punk, but they’re also clearly pushing those sounds in interesting new directions. As Timmy Lodhi from The Vibrating Antennas told Impose:
“Someone told me the other day that there must be something in the water in the North Bay. I believe it, there’s an instinct in everyone to not only make music but to progress with it. We are just another band from here that wants to push the envelope.”
That sense of mutual support and connection isn’t limited to the punks. The New Trust has been active for over a decade now, delivering lean, dynamic indie rock. Trebuchet covered a TNT song for that band’s Battle to the Death album a few years ago, and both of those bands recently celebrated Trebuchet’s new album with a show at Bottom of the Hill along with Survival Guide.
Enjoy this mix of a dozen great North Bay bands.
- Creative Adult – “Deep End”
- Brown Bags – “Summoner”
- That Ghost – “Morning Now”
- The Buttercream Gang – “Little Ones”
- Kiddo – “Cancer Kids”
- Culture Abuse – “Happy Ending”
- The Vibrating Antennas – “The Tops of the Rocks (get all the sun)”
- Spirits of Leo – “The Pendant You Wear”
- Trebuchet – “The Book of Love”
- Survival Guide – “One to One”
- The Down House – “Old Shoes”
- The New Trust – “Wretched and Unwanted”