By Gabe Meline
If you’ve never heard Fang, don’t be surprised. Unless you spent time at Bay Area punk venues like the Farm or Ruthie’s Inn in the 1980s, the likeliest chance of being exposed to Fang’s music was in the form of cover songs by more popular bands. But despite the East Bay band’s obscurity, plenty of people know the story of Sam McBride (above), the lead singer, and the reason why Fang suddenly broke up. While Green Day and Nirvana traveled the world playing his songs, McBride watched from a prison cell, serving time for voluntary manslaughter.
Released from prison in the mid-’90s, McBride sporadically reconvenes band members, but the reputation has proven hard to shake. (In 2004, the news of a Fang tour clogged online message boards with comments like “I wonder who Sammy’s going to kill on this tour?”) Fang play at the Phoenix Theater in Petaluma this week, and more than a few people in the local punk scene, including some who work at the theater, have cried foul. Whatever happened to having faith in the rehabilitative power of the human spirit? Find out when Fang play Tuesday, May 29, with Raw Power, the Pubes, Wendol and Fistifuks at the Phoenix Theater, 201 E. Washington, Petaluma. 7pm. $8. 707.762.3565.
Around the same time as Fang’s heyday, a Santa Rosa thrash band called Capitalist Casualties started playing shows, sharing the bill on just about every hardcore show in Sonoma County in the late ’80s. But the band hasn’t played locally since 1993, making their upcoming date in Santa Rosa their first hometown show in 13 years. “It’s not like we haven’t wanted to play here,” explains guitarist Mike Vinatieri, “we just really weren’t asked. Not many opportunities presented themselves.”
Capitalist Casualties are renowned in other parts of the world (later this month the band headline a tour of Japan), but locally the band’s appearances have been limited to rehearsing with a cigarette-lighter adaptor behind a fishing tackle shop in Rohnert Park. (“If anyone took the off-ramp around that time and saw a drummer and a guitarist,” laughs Vinatieri, “it was Capitalist Casualties practicing.”) For a band that dedicated a song on their first record to Santa Rosa, this seems out of balance. The scales realign when Capitalist Casualties play Friday, June 8, at the Keel Haul in Santa Rosa with Abscess and Wendol. 5pm. $6. For info and directions, see www.myspace.com/capitalistcasualties.