10 Bay Area Bands You Need In Your Life

Provoke (Photo: Michael D. Thorn)

The Bay Area has seemingly always had an amazing underground punk scene since day one and despite that its always felt like it never gets the same level of respect or hype as what comes out LA or Boston or New York or DC. Is it because its so expensive to live here that band’s are too short lived or too cash strapped to hit the road and make an impact? I mean this is the area that brought the world Crucifix, Avengers, Neurosis, Spazz, Dead Kennedys and more—why does it feel like all the recognition these days is elsewhere? Anyway here are ten newish/more recent bands to check out from the Bay.


Photo: Michael D. Thorn

Oakland’s Strangeways play stripped down stomping hardcore—mixing it up with ripping blasts of fury. There are moments here that make me think a slightly more primitive No For An Answer. Formerly going by the name No Limbs, they’ve been at it for awhile and are well worth your time. 


Photo: Michael D. Thorn

Tough and quick-paced hardcore with plenty of breakdowns played with mountains of passion—they are consistently one of my favorite live bands. They’d fit right in on a bill with East Coast bands like Firewalker, Krimewatch, or Pure Disgust (psst go on tour). A friend of mine once commented that in a world where bands go through the motions of being angry, Provoke is actually pissed.


Photo: Michael D. Thorn

I can’t even deal with how good Khiis is—hook laden, mid-paced, intense hardcore punk—they just blow me away every time I see them play. I can hear hints of the Comes as well as Black Market Baby and maybe a smidge of Christ on a Crutch. Just check it out—I mean how this hasn’t been pressed to vinyl yet just blows my mind.

Deseos Primitivos

Photo: Michael D. Thorn

One of my favorite things about Spanish punk in the '80s is how it stayed melodic and P-U-N-K while the rest of the global scene was going into thrash overdrive. Bands from the Iberian Peninsula seemed to take the intensity of thrashing hardcore and channel it through a more pogo friendly filter—Deseos Primitivos certainly follows in this tradition. I know its lazy to be all like  “Hey band sings in Spanish, compare them to old Spanish punk” but seriously—this band would sound right at home on the Punk Qué? Punk compilation or on a mix tape wedged between VulpeSS or Espasmódicos.  

Cell Rot

Photo: Michael D. Thorn

A thick, juggernaut steamroller assault of skull pulverizing hardcore—just go-go-go from the first second. Cell Rot contrasts their rapid-fire onslaught with periodic injections of tense sludgy breakdowns. Think the same family tree as Nails. Seriously a band that could be should be huge. 

War Bison

Photo: Michael D. Thorn

War Bison is one of those bands that I wish got more props around here—tuneful hardcore punk that really stands out in these days of Discharge worship. Taking musical cues from Verbal Assault, 411, and Dag Nasty while kicking up the intensity and going for a bit more of a raw aggressive sound, tinged with a hint of metal. It’ll be great to see them progress—hopefully we’ll see a record soon.


Photo: Michael D. Thorn

Seeing Defend for the first time was like jumping in a time machine—thick necked sounding moshy hardcore that would have been right at home at some Middlesex College show in 1992 or on the New Breed compilation. The demo only drives this home further--explicitly anti-fascist stomping, pounding hardcore that doesn’t compromise in its execution.


Photo: Michael D. Thorn

I wish I got to see Firearm more—I’ve only managed it twice so far but each time I was blown away by their melodic, driving, aggressive take on hardcore. Live, it always feels like they are inches away from everything falling apart and them just smashing everything in a fit of chaos but they somehow manage to hold it together. More recordings, please!


Photo: Michael D. Thorn

Since the first time I saw this shredding band I was hooked. Stripped down raw yet mellifluous punk rock sung in Spanish that that brings to mind the more assertive side of Eskorbuto or Los Violadores. They are another band where I just want more songs and can’t wait for them to jump beyond the demo stage.

False Figure

Photo: Michael D. Thorn

The Bay Area has long had a tradition of ‘spooky punk’ — from bands like Christ on Parade to Steel Pole Bathtub to the more obscure peace punk bands that surrounded Crucifix like A State of Mind, Trial or Treason. False Figure continues on in this tradition while putting a bit more hard-hitting edge to it. Think TSOL “Darker My Love”—moody, intense, driving… they are consistently one of the best live bands.

Tagged: cell rot, defend, deseos primitivos, false figure, firearm, khiis, provoke, strangeways, war bison