Punk venue takes Chico underground

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Fans enjoy Icko Sicko's set during a Basement of Frustration show on Monday. The venue welcomes all ages and offers a drug-and-alcohol free environment to see punk bands perform. Photo credit: Caio Calado

Near Ninth and Flume streets, a sign on a porch that exclaims “pizza in the back” gives a welcoming and free vibe for anyone attending this local in-home punk venue.

An all-ages show on Monday had local bands such as Outside Looking In, Icko Sicko, Gorilla X Monsoon and Oakland hardcore band, Trenches.

Once through the entrance, there was a congestion of guitar amps, roughly 12 skateboards, low couches, a TV blasting and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle posters that hung on the wall promoting a young, adult-run funhouse.

The basement, where all the raw energy took place, was small but intimate for this strong and rebellious form of music. Speaker monitors and guitar amps in the back were stacked to the ceiling. A PA system in the middle looked old but alive, and random clothes and pizza boxes with personalized writings and messages were everywhere.

Outside Looking In opened with a huge, booming sound accompanied by their bassist Tommy Ghiorso, who is also the guitarist for Gorilla X Monsoon.

When he slapped his bass at full force and later brought it up to hit the wall, it displayed an honest passion for his love of the music. The singer would lean back and occasionally fall over due to the last breaths the lyrics demanded. These antics provided for amazing stage presence.

Gorilla X Monsoon had chugging guitar and bass tones as well as incredible, almost sporadic drum fills.

Icko Sicko’s vocalist went completely nuts when performing as he ran around sweating and screaming while being immensely artistic for the hardcore genre. At the end of one song, he said calmly “don’t do drugs” to reinforce a that the shows are drug and alcohol free.

Trenches, who was in town for their second-to-last show for their West Coast tour, seemed to have a majority of older members compared to the other bands. They crushed their set and maintained their all for a great way to close the show.

The audience gave back to the bands all night by enthusiastically raising their fists, singing along and banging their heads between intense moshing.

Local fan and musician, Mackenzie, who has played there herself said, “It’s a really safe venue. We have been going here a few months now. It’s my favorite venue in town.”

Anyone wanting to attend these shows can get in for just $5 or pay-as-you-can generosity — anyone willing to experience punk with the fast-paced, immersive power that comes with it.

Tom Sundgren can be reached at [email protected] or @tomsundgren on Twitter.