If you’re gonna go out on the first weekend after California’s COVID restrictions are lifted, you might as well go hard. That was my idea, anyway, when I drove two hours to San Jose on Saturday. My destination: REAL BAY SHIT, a DIY show with seven bands, in the city that’s quickly become the epicenter of the country’s hardcore scene.
Picture your typical industrial park: faceless concrete buildings, loading bays, on the outskirts of town. Then picture a long line of people waiting to pay their $5, and, around a corner in a roped-off, hidden parking lot, upwards up 1,500 people. The location was announced at 3pm, just two hours prior, and people have been so eager to get together again that, when I arrive, the place is already full. Some of them are already crowdsurfing before even one band has played a note.
There’s an electricity in the air, along with the occasional hurled items: a beer can, a drum head, a giant stuffed animal, a discarded bra, and a human body soaring across the sky. And that’s just during the opening bands. During Xiobalba’s set, I scan the crowd: maybe 60% white, with a mix of Latino, Asian and Black fans—a reflection of the South Bay. I see a couple of typical mohawked drunk punks almost get into an all-out brawl with some dudes in matching “10 Years of Smashing Nazis” T-shirts and then, two minutes later, I see them working it out and hugging in the pit.