By Dave Pehling
SAN FRANCISCO (CBS SF) — A venerable ’80s East Bay hardcore punk band that has only played occasional shows in the past five years returns to the stage Friday when Public Enema headlines the Ivy Room in Albany.
Started in Berkeley in 1982 amid the hardcore explosion that included Bay Area legends the Dead Kennedys as well as LA stalwarts Black Flag and rising DC band Minor Threat, Public Enema was fronted by singer Barry Lazarus and included 15-year-old Dave Edwardson on bass, Erik Thomas on drums and guitarists Ryan Sullivan and Ray Bini. The group played it first show at underground punk/metal outpost Ruthie’s Inn with Boston punk bands the FU’s and Stranglehold the following year.
The quintet played a handful of shows at parties and clubs until Lazarus departed the band in 1984 to embark on a solo backpacking trip through the South Pacific. The band recruited a new singer, recorded a demo and played a number of shows — including sets at legendary SF punk venue the Mabuhay Gardens before splitting up.
Though the group didn’t manage to get any music released during it’s initial existence (a couple of tunes ended up on Bay Area punk compilations in the ’90s), Public Enema has almost as notable for the bands members ended up playing with later in their careers: Edwardson would co-found experimental punk metal group Neurosis in 1985, while Sullivan played in the early line-up of Samiam and Thomas went on to join fellow East Bay punks Special Forces.
30 years after leaving the band, Lazarus — now the owner of Red Devil Records in San Rafael — would return to sing with a reunited line-up of the group in 2014 at Gilman Street. The reconstituted outfit would go on to play infrequent shows at clubs on both sides of the Bay, but this upcoming appearance at the Ivy Room in Albany Friday night marks Public Enema’s first live performance in almost two years.
Touring Madison, Wisconsin-based trio Clean Room plays the support slot, dealing out a raucous, grimy Midwestern style of hard rock that mixes elements of Detroit proto punk, glam and late ’70s British metal. Opening act Very Paranoia is a new high-octane, proto-punk band featuring members of Hot Lunch, Annihilation Time and Assemble Head in Sunburst Sound that recently released its debut 7-inch single on German psych/punk imprint Who Can You Trust Records.
Friday, Nov. 8, 8 p.m. $8
The Ivy Room