We Were Feared – The Story of the Cuckoo’s Nest and Punk Rock in OC

If you’re a real punk rock fan, the following is essential viewing.

Clockwork Orange County: A History of Punk Rock in Southern California

Everybody knows of CBGB in Queens, but what about the hippest punk rock venue in southern California? Unknown to many, the punk rock scene in Southern California has been quite influential to the music industry worldwide. Now that I live in Southern California, such music takes on a new appeal. I used to think that most of these punk bands came from the streets of edgier cities such as Los Angeles. It never occurred to me that suburban Orange County (OC) could be the crucible of some of the greatest American punk bands of all time. Some of the most popular punk/hardcore bands – Black Flag, Social Distortion and The Adolescents, just to name a few – came from towns literally 10 miles from where I currently reside.

I also didn’t know that from that from 1976–1981, Orange County was home to one of the most maddest punk rock venues around, namely the Cuckoo’s Nest. Throughout its short history, the club hosted local acts as well as punk rock royalty – The Ramones, The Vandals, The Damned, Iggy Pop, Bad Brains – in order to bring the genre to the suburbs. The Cuckoo’s Nest was also the place where the first “slam pit” occurred.

The 2012 documentary We Were Feared – The Story of the Cuckoo’s Nest explores the SoCal, and specifically OC, punk scene with interviews from those who lived it – Henry Rollins of Black Flag, the members of T.S.O.L. and the club’s nefarious owner and manager, Jerry Roach, loved and hated by both punk artists and their fans.

It wasn’t all just music though. The club was also notorious for violence and run ins with the police. During the time when the club was open, there was even a death or two.

We Were Feared is a story that today would seem almost unbelievable in much of OC today. For those interested in the history of punk rock, this film is great.

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