HIS GOLDENVOICE

"Hey, look at this one," Gary Tovar says to no one in particular. "I liked this one. This is when Keith [Morris] broke his back, so I knew he'd go on early, right?"
 

Tovar positions the poster over the trunk of his champagne-colored, 1990s-era Toyota Corolla parked in the empty lot belonging to what used to be Acres of Books in Long Beach. The black-and-white poster advertised a show on Pearl Harbor Day, Dec. 7, 1984, at the now-defunct Grand Olympic Auditorium in downtown Los Angeles.

 

The background was splattered with the iconic photograph of Japanese fighter planes queuing up for their attack on Pearl Harbor and the words "SYNCHRONIZE WATCHES! ALL-AMERICAN SKANK-OFF!"

The lineup? One that would sell out venues even today, with Circle Jerks, the Vandals and Youth Brigade leading the pack.

Meanwhile, Paul Tollett is quietly thumbing through a well-preserved photo album, the kind with adhesive pages, picked at random from a pile stacked child-high that was sitting shotgun.

"Keith Morris," he says, gesturing to the photo. "From OFF! And Circle Jerks."

"Oh, look at this one!" Tovar exclaims, unfurling another oversized poster. "Remember Melody Dance Center?"

 

Another poster unraveled: "Oh, here's another one . . . the Damned."

 

And another: Fishbone, Bad Manners at Fender's Ballroom. Long Beach.

 

Another: "FUCK OFF, WANKERS!" is scrawled at the top.

 

"A show with a message," Tollett says.

 

"Who did Public Enemy?"

 

"That was March of '88," Tovar answers. "Or do you mean the [Santa Monica] Civic one?"

 

"N.W.A was at the Palladium; that was '87. That was their debut."

 

"Their debut? Huh."

 

The sun is just starting to dip below the buildings of downtown Long Beach, and the men are only beginning to reminisce. Tovar wears a freshly pressed, blue dress shirt over a white crew T-shirt. Jeans, dark wraparound sunglasses and a pair of black Docs top it off. He's the founder of Goldenvoice Productions, the wildly influential Southern California concert-promotions company. With roots long-steeped in punk, Tovar and Goldenvoice helped usher the genre from small clubs scattered throughout the suburbs into all-ages, large-capacity venues such as the Palladium and the Olympic.

 

Tovar spent seven years in prison on charges of drug distribution and left Goldenvoice in the very capable hands of employees Tollett and Rick Van Santen. While the subsequent years weren't exactly the smoothest ones for the company, two decades and a little something called the Coachella Music and Arts Festival later, it has secured its reputation for gathering the best, most innovative artists together for bills that span from intimate clubs to Imperial Valley polo fields.

And this weekend, Goldenvoice celebrates 30 years of riots, organized mayhem and beautiful music over three days with a lineup straight from the early years of the company.

"There were many bands Goldenvoice helped along through the years," Tovar explains. "But this is a festival to help celebrate the bands who made Goldenvoice."