“San Francisco’s Doomed”

Pub date August 11, 2009
SectionMusicSectionMusic Features

PREVIEW Fred Schrunk sips his coffee as he mans the counter on a recent afternoon at Thrillhouse, the nonprofit punk record store he oversees on Mission Street, and discusses the genesis of this week’s San Francisco’s Doomed Fest. It’s a series of shows benefiting two causes dear to him and the local music community: the all-ages venue project for San Francisco that he and several forward-thinking locals are spearheading, as well as Maximum Rock’n’Roll, the long-running, SF-based punk monthly fanzine that, like many print publications today, is struggling to meet operation costs.

"Seeing [MRR] struggle for a little while made me really concerned," explains Schrunk, who is involved with the zine and its radio show. "It’s fucking scary seeing them in a compromising situation." The staff of MRR, likewise a nonprofit, consists of volunteer "shitworkers," and the zine’s content is reader-contributed, inspiring and informing both bands and enthusiasts worldwide since its inception in 1982.

"I think there’s a place for what we do," says MRR content coordinator Layla Gibbon over the phone from the zine’s office. "It’s just a difficult time." About four months ago, Schrunk and MRR‘s coordinators decided to put together a fundraiser for both the debt-burdened magazine and Thrillhouse’s goal of opening an all-ages venue in the city.

This venue project stems from San Francisco’s lack of a dedicated all-ages show space — a lamentable situation that leaves local youngsters with few options for seeing and performing live music. The success of the project’s small fundraising shows so far, as well as that of last year’s Thrillhouse-sanctioned Thrillfest, paved the way for this new, ramped-up effort to raise funds for opening a space. Where Thrillfest was structured around touring bands, Doomed features mostly local acts, all of whom have an obvious stake in seeing these two scene-uniting efforts succeed.

The event’s name comes from Crime, SF’s self-proclaimed "first and only rock ‘n’ roll band," which formed in 1976, cranking out early punk classics such as 1977’s "Hot Wire My Heart" and "Frustration." They’ll be headlining the festival, where the lineup ranges from the heavy, stoned sounds of Flood to the Messthetics-style post-punk of Rank/Xerox. More established local acts like good-times popsters Nodzzz and renowned Sacramento garage-rockers the Bananas are also on hand. As Gibbon exclaims, the fest not only benefits good causes, it also promises to be "a representation of what punk is … the sense of possibility!"

SAN FRANCISCO’S DOOMED Wed/12 through Sun/16, various venues. www.myspace.com/sanfranciscosdoomed, www.maximumrocknroll.com