the vores

The Vores are still going more than 30 years after they formed in Buffalo, NY, in the late 1970s, in the guise of original members Biff Henrich (guitar, vocals) and Gary Nickard (bass, vocals), and currently Cathy Carfagna (keyboards, vocals), Scott Ryan (guitar, vocals) and Patrick Heyden (drums). The Vores’ first release was the four-song 7″, Love Canal/Get Outta My Way/Amateur Surgeon/So Petite, in 1978. Their second release, the 7″ single Stress, came out in 1980
In 2005 they released Moment of Uncertainty, a great album of dark, edgy, humorous art rock reminiscent of Pere Ubu and American new wave and post punk bands of the 80s. I really love this album. The fact that I’m a big Ubu fan, and a big Talking Heads fan, would have made me automatically hate it if I thought it was a cheap imitation, or a cheeky rip-off; Moment of Uncertainty is a forthright, intelligent and essentially groovy work of art

Their most recent release, Common Scar came out in 2012. Again it is consistently good, in the same vein as their previous stuff: wildly creative and often very funny

“We’ve used the term avant garage; that’s a pretty good description. I’ve never called us ‘art rock’ because that would present a different connotation. There are things I have listened to and that we were interested in, but the sound really came from us. At the start” — Biff Henrich, Artvoice

the vores

Biff Henrich was kind enough to answer these questions for me

Hello Biff. Where did the name ‘the Vores’ come from?

It is Latin for eaters. When we were searching for a band name, every practice for weeks, we would discuss it while we set up. Gary would come in with two legal sheets of paper, two columns per side with list of names he had come up with. And we never liked any of them. Gary has a leaning toward the baroque and names like “Iron Fucking Death Chalice” just didn’t seem to reflect the sensibility of the rest of the band. So the list provided great entertainment but not much in the way of results. Dave Kulik (original guitar) casually walked into the room in the middle of one of these sessions and said, “What about the Vores?” We kind of all looked around and said, that sounds pretty good. There were no objections or guffaws and it stuck. I still like it after all this time and seems to have staying power. My friend Brian Grunert, who designed our recent album covers says it is a perfect 70’s band name


How did Paul Tschinkel come to record you at Max’s? Had he been familiar with the Vores beforehand?

Our manager, Debra Lary was good friends with Paul’s assistant. Her name was also Debra if I remember correctly (maybe not). Anyway, that was the link. They got Paul to come see us at an early NYC gig and he thought it would be great to record the band. This is of course before MTV and music videos broke out. There were two main guys recording bands and then going around to art galleries and other venues and having public screenings of them. One was Paul, who had his cable show in NYC. And there was Target Video in San Francisco. I’m sure there were others but they are who I was aware of. Both of them had come to Buffalo at some point for screenings. It was a great way to see bands that probably did not make the tour stop in Buffalo


Did you and Gary hang around much at CBs and Max’s, or any other clubs, when you were in the city?

Buffalo is about seven hours by car to NYC and at that time I was getting down there about 4-5 times a year. A lot of that was for specific purposes like our gigs, and that didn’t always give us a lot of free time. But we did manage to go to those clubs to see bands and also to other places such as Tier 3, or the Mudd Club. Just as often I would see music at art venues such as the Kitchen in NYC. In Buffalo, we had vibrant scene and bands would tour through here and play places like McVan’s, The Spectrum, The Schuper House, and later, the Continental. Additionally, I was involved in Hallwalls Gallery in Buffalo that had a music program that was similar to the Kitchen in NYC and if there were things we wanted to see we would bring them in for a show as part of the programming. That’s how guys like Rhys Chatham or Glenn Branca got to Buffalo


The Vores Amateur Surgeon live at Max’s Kansas City, May 1979


Amateur Surgeon is one of my favourite Vores songs. What was the inspiration?

I had read where some university was adopting admission criteria for entrance to its medical school other than “highest quality available.” Lyrically, I just took that to what I thought was it’s logical conclusion and sonically to what I thought that conclusion might sound like


Is Common Scar a record you’d always wanted to make? And how would you compare it to Moment of Uncertainty?

I probably wanted to make Moment of Uncertainty for a longer period of time. Common Scar followed relatively close on the heels of MOU. I think that Common Scar is certainly more representative of where this band has been in the past 10 years but we couldn’t have made it without making MOU first. One builds upon the other. They aren’t that far apart but CS is probably a bit more sophisticated in it’s selections. The range is little broader and nuanced. That probably is a reflection of the evolutionary process of writing and recording songs. I can’t say that either is better but they are slightly different. My nod probably goes to CS because it is the most recent. I think that anyone in a creative endeavor tends to favor their most recent creation above all others for a short period. It is when you revisit an older piece and re-discover its merits that you come appreciate its value. On the flip side that are those older things you did and you say, “What was I thinking? How did that ever see the light of day”


How much do – or can – the songs change between the original ideas you have and the finished recording by the band?

A lot. First, I must say that contrary to appearances I am not a sole creative in this effort. It has always relied on everyone in the band contributing and even a few outsiders. So I am willing to collaborate and refine ideas wherever and with whomever I can. Gary and I have done the most over the years but early on Dave Kulik wrote songs with us and those contributions were indispensible in defining our “thing”. Other members along the way have also added to the whole. Cathy plays like no one else we have ever had and I know we can let her go on her own with songs or parts of songs and approach it her way. You learn new ways to play things, new ways to approach things, new things to think about and that all gets sifted through the whole

I think the song I came to the band with that was changed the least was “Funeral”, from Common Scar. That song sprung out of me finished but that was unique. The songs also evolve as we play them. We add things and modify small things as we go so that if we play the same song 10 years ago and then play it today, it is different. Still recognizable but the performance will change. You have to trust the other musicians. Particularly with the live performance. We have done several events with an augmented line-up called Monsters of Nature and Design. It is an extended performance format that Gary has spearheaded. We have had 15 musicians and one rehearsal and it works out great. But it only works because we surround ourselves with great musicians that we trust to handle the material


Your nephew’s in the band. How did that come about?

Scott was 13 and had been playing guitar for several years. I saw him play in a band he started with his friends at a school function where they played original songs. I saw two things I liked, he had no stage fright although he is generally a reserved personality, and they got in some trouble with their school administration for violating some of the stage rules that had been laid down. It was shortly thereafter that we needed another guitar player for what I thought was only two gigs. I thought the image of a 13-year-old with us would rattle some cages and I knew he could handle the gig. It turned out better than expected


Stress 7″ 1980

the vores


How do you feel about comparisons to Pere Ubu?

I don’t think about it too much because I can’t do anything about it. There are a lot worse bands to be compared to and I like them so that is good. I can hear some shared sensibilities although I don’t think we sound like them. I haven’t heard a lot of their stuff so there are some things I don’t know there. People need a reference to talk about sound when there is no sound available and that one seems to work for a lot of people. Maybe it is the Lake Erie Effect with Cleveland being 200 miles down the shoreline from Buffalo


Do you have any personal feelings about the death of the record industry?

Not really, although I think the communal aspect of record stores, book stores and discussions with friends about musicians or songs has been a loss due to the internet. With all information available at your fingertips, there is no sense of satisfaction and reward when you find a recording you were looking for or discover a new band you never heard about. The excitement of the quest was part of the joy. The industry always seemed to have the misconception it was about commodity and they eventually distilled it all down to that. But it was really about finding others who shared your sensibilities and even being one of only a few who knew about certain things. Like musicians or authors. There are fewer and fewer insiders today and that means less uniqueness

I remember reading about the great Son House and wondering what he sounded like and what all the commotion was about. The recordings were long out of print and unavailable. One of the major record companies re-released some of those recordings in the mid 70’s and I was excited to come across the record in a store. The reward of discovery and finally hearing that voice after years of wondering was thrilling. Today, with everything preserved on the web, there is no need to feel the anxiety of thinking you may never get to hear Son House and know what that experience is like


Biff Henrich and Gary Nickard

vores l-1


You and Gary have known each other for 35 years, but you don’t really hang out. Why do you two work well together?

We actually hung out yesterday! We have always been kindred spirits of some sort. What I think is funny he thinks is funny. What he mocks, I mock. And when you have that with someone, you always seem to pick up the conversation as though it never ended. If we don’t see each other for two months, it is as though it was an hour ago. He is more academic than I am and I am more intuitive than him (all in degrees of course). It is a great balance when wrestling with the creative process


What’s happening next with the Vores – gig-wise, etc?

We will play down in Erie, PA. March 22nd. In conjunction with a documentary film about Buffalo Music. It was made by Elmer Plotz – HERE

We will play in our area 5-6 times a year. Finding venues can be challenging as there are simply fewer and fewer places to play live music and the audience seems more and more reluctant to venture out. Another condition of the digital age where everything is at your fingertips

We are happy to travel if the expenses are covered. The trick is getting all the musicians together for any extended time. Everyone has other activities, bands, day jobs etc, so coordinating is like juggling water. I have some footage of performances I want to edit and put up on the web. Mostly the extended projects like the Monsters group. We also have audio recordings of those kinds of performances we want to put out. They are mostly mixed down but still need to be mastered and produced. That will need some funds from someplace

We still write songs, although not at a furious pace. The reality is that it never was a furious pace. We were always very deliberate with the songs that we finished, quick to discard ideas that were going nowhere fast

I’m now off to band practice with The Good. Another great Buffalo band that stuck me in their lineup a few years ago

OK. Have a good one!
the vores


A live gig/interview podcast is available at


and you can listen to the 1978 four-song single tracks here:

1. Love Canal

2. Get Outta My Way

3. Amateur Surgeon

4. So Petite


>end trans<

barney bubbles




Barney Bubbles

Album sleeve artist Barney Bubbles (born Colin Fulcher in London in 1942), who committed suicide in 1983, designed sleeves for the Damned, Ian Dury, Elvis Costello, Billy Bragg, Hawkwind, and was the in-house designer for Stiff Records. He designed the ‘archer’ motif for Strongbow cider, and many other artworks, some that he never signed (and therefore for which he was not credited)

Bubbles had a bi-polar disorder and was also an enthusiastic consumer of recreational drugs, which may or may not have contributed to his early death. BBC Radio 4 did a very good documentary about Barney Bubbles, which you can hear here

Generation X Your Generation/Day By Day 7″ sleeve 1977


Gen X

Blockhead logo music press tour ad 1978 + promotional paint can, 1979

Barney Bubbles' Blockhead logo - music press tour ad 1978 Bubbles promotional paint can, 1979

The Damned Music for Pleasure Stiff Records, 1977

barney bubbles


The Damned, Stretcher Case Baby/Sick Of Being Sick, 7″ sleeve + record with custom label, Stiff Records, 1977

url-5 url-4


Ian Dury Songbook 1979



Ian Dury 4000 Weeks Holiday sleeve in progress. This was one of Barney’s last designs. He died before the work was completed

barney bubbles 4,000 Weeks sleeve in progress


Nick Lowe Little Hitler 1978 advert appeared in music paper Sounds, captioned:
“A new single. A new shirt. You can’t take it off”, with the record company Radar’s logo as the shirt label

barney bubbles

Ian Dury & the Blockheads Do It Yourself 1979. The sleeve was printed in twelve different versions onto real sheets of wallpaper

Bubbles doityourself


Elvis Costello My Aim is True 1977

Elvis Costello My Aim is True

Larry Wallis and Elvis Costello posters, 60in x 40in, Live Stiffs tour, 1977. Bubbles was the creator of the 60in x 40in poster

larrywallis Costello-Poster


John Cooper Clarke Directory, Omnibus Press, 1979



Nick Lowe I Love the Sound of Breaking Glass 7″ sleeve 1978


Elvis Costello Armed Forces promo poster



Ian Dury With Love, 60in x 40in poster, 1977 poster for Stiffs Live Stiffs tour


Ian Dury What A Waste/Wake Up & Make Love To Me (reverse), Stiff 1981


Proof copy of unused front cover for single sleeve, Your Generation/Day By Day, Generation X, Chrysalis, 1977



Bubbles’ masthead for the NME 1978


Elvis Costello Armed Forces 1979

elvis costello

Armed Forces with interlockingleaves unfoldedtodisplaythe albumtitleand credit.

Elvis Costello and the Attractions Get Happy!! 1980


Elvis Costello and the Attractions Get Happy!! poster 1980


Much thanks to Paul Gorman, author of Reasons to Be Cheerful, for his fantastic pics –


check out Paul’s website here


peter gravelle

peter gravelle by john gladdy

Peter Gravelle by John Gladdy

After Sid Vicious died in New York in February ’79, the details of his last hours alive came under intense focus. There was a knee-jerk search for somebody other than Sid himself to blame. For that reason you might have heard of people like Michelle Robinson, Neon Leon and Rockets Redglare, people whom you would never have heard about if they hadn’t existed on the periphery of the ex-Pistol’s squalid final weeks in New York

Photographer Peter Gravelle (aka Kodik) was also drawn into the blame game that the media insisted on playing. He was the man who put that last gramme of heroin in Sid’s hand; the gramme that killed him later that night. Gravelle was an easy scapegoat for the press: like his mate Sid, a heroin addict, who looked a bit “rough”, and clearly kept some very questionable company

Peter of course had simply been the guy who came through for a friend after another supposed friend had ripped off Sid’s mum. The heroin Jerry Nolan sold on to Anne Beverly, for herself, Sid and Peter to share that day was so badly cut it was practically worthless. You can be sure if Sid could still be heard, there’s be no ill will directed at his old pal

Peter Gravelle has stories. Lots of them. He has photographed some very interesting people down the years – mostly not the punk rockers he is known for photographing. Perhaps unfortunately for him, those punks are what I was most curious about


Living in Maida Vale in 76/77 you must have met almost everyone from the early punk scene on one occassion or another. It’s become kind of a mythic place and time

No that`s a London thing. Maida Vale is central and on the right-side of town as opposed to the east-end. Of course they have been pumping money into re-doing the East-end for ages and it`s sort of happening – not. They can always try

I remember the East-End mostly through Brick Lane. A place you went for bargains. In the old Brick Lane you would walk down and they`re would be guys in long coats and as you passed they would open them revealing their goods they had to sell; mostly rows of watches, rings, jewellery of any sort… fantastic and no, they weren`t flashers just flash Eddies… this was amongst the fruit sellers, the bric a brac and piles of unsorted clothes. It ain`t like that any more. It`s full of cheaper housing for anyone coming to London and studio spaces for artists and photographers where the west-side now is too expensive

Back in 1977 Maida Vale was an average neighbourhood. It`s location was good. Ten minutes by bus you were in Marble Arch and the West-end. Fifteen minutes by bus and you were in Chelsea or the other way, Camden. Nice big flats too. Now it has become very up market. Glen Matlock still lives there now as do Paul Weller and many others. Back in 1976, let`s see, I had a Mews House there where Patti lived, Barry Jones had a nice place two blocks away, Sid and Nancy moved into Pindock Mews, Keith Levene lived opposite them nearly, Matt from the Boys, oh I can`t remember who else, Glen lived there, Celia Perry at Barrys, Magenta de-Vine with me for a while. Yeah, I guess a lot of people did live there. That was cool though. It meant you could walk to a friend`s house. Something unusual for London now


Johnny Thunders is named by some as the bloke who introduced heroin to the London punk scene. Do you have an opinion one way or the other on that?

Fuck, what a statement. Yeah, Johnny was responsible for everything. What an ass-hole. Ok, lets go back a bit. If early Punk had a drug of choice it was puff and speed. People drank but speed was the big drug. It was pure and cheap. £10 a gram. Yes, the whole Heartbreakers crew did bring their drug habits with them from NYC and many people being NY Dolls clones or Johnny clones tried smack for the first time through them. But, it was like a cancer started to affect the whole scene.
Now, I don`t know who you think controls the drug market but I think it definitely comes from above.. the top… All of a sudden you couldn`t find any speed at all. Zero. Zilch. What you did find was heroin. Of course the Shah of Iran was deposed around this time and after Britain was flooded with high grade heroin. At this time heroin was about £40 per gram. Pretty much the same price as it is today. To get back to the original question, yes, London and the Punk scene could have done without Johnny and his Heartbreakers but probably the government would have had their way anyway. He, as others have done, merely glorified something, that in essence, is very sad. Let`s blame Malcolm for bringing them over


You’re definitely not the first person who met Johnny Thunders I’ve heard describe him as an asshole. Did you have many run-ins with him, and did you see him behaving like that?

Asshole? No, that might be a bit strong. I`d say he was juvenille. Yeah, pretty fucking juvenille. Oh, he could be sweet and charming but unfortunately it was usually because he wanted something. Look, Johnny was a junkie. For Christs sake, that was nearly all he wrote songs about. Call them what you will, modern street poetry, songs from the heart, whatever, no matter how you try to dress them up they are about junk, dooggie, downtown. Most junkies are assholes

I first saw him when he came over with his Heartbreakers… they would headline the Roxy club every weekend it seemed. I mean you have to wonder about someone who takes delight in giving someone their first hit of heroin as he seems to have done. I know a lot of people who claim that the first time they took heroin was with Johnny. I did his So Alone cover later. I had to send over a pretty girl to pick him up. First thing he does upon arriving is have another hit. He was so out of it he couldn`t keep his eyes open. Johnny, it`s your record cover. He wasn`t alone, he was surrounded by blood suckers. The album should have been called So, a loan ???

Later I saw him in Paris a couple of times. He played solo, didn`t want to have to share the money with a band. I saw him in situations I know he didn`t want to be in. He would just shrug his shoulders as if to say well Peter, so it goes. Later, I saw him a couple of times as he toured North America. He would say things from the stage like there`s a guy here who I fucked his wife or girlfriend. Yeah, and you got leftovers Johnny. What a thing to say and as if I really cared. Well, I would laugh but I thought it pretty low and juvenille. That was the level he worked on. He was a pig when it came to junk. Moderation didn`t come into his vocabulary and eventually, well you tell me what happened? LSD in a junkie`s blood system!?? Right, he should have grown up. He was blessed with a charisma of sorts. Died too young. Anyway i don`t want to talk bad of the dead, let`s try to remember the good bits


thunders so alone

New York magazine did a piece on you entitled “Peter Gravelle, Vicious Enabler”; was that a fair title? It feels like you were singled out; this idea that you share some of the responsibility for his death. He would have asked the next person he could have if you’d said no, and it’s not as if you were a dealer; you were going to buy it for yourself anyway, I assume

Fuck New York magazine. It`s a free, cheap city magazine. If I lived in the States I would sue them for those remarks. Maybe by not doing so I don`t give them any credence. All I will say at the moment is it was probably a mixture of drugs he took that night with drink on top that led to his unfortunate death

If I could have the chance over again, I would probably have not copped the heroin for him and myself that night. Of course I wouldn`t but as you said someone else would have. We had tried a number of places that day. The only reason people wouldn`t sell to us was because they didn`t have anything. Jerry had cut the stuff his mother brought for Sid so bad that neither of us could feel it. That`s what started us off looking for more.. nuff said. Fuck New York magazine.. Do u know a lawyer who’ll work on credit? Fuck it


Your photoshoot for the Damned, that iconic front cover, the great outtakes… could you tell us a little bit about that shoot. For example, were the custard pies planned? Were they real custard pies? Was anyone in control or was it a food fight?

I knew Judy Nylon quite well. Her boyfriend was in a band. She asked me if I would do some photos of the band; they had no money. Ok, as long as I could do anything I wanted to. I don`t know where I came up with the pie idea. It was my idea. I think it was just because I thought it would be visually effective. On the day of the shoot Judy and Patti were the stylists and in charge of picking up custard or cream pies. We all arrived at the studio and there were no cream pies to be found. They had picked up some flan bases, shaving cream and ketchup and mustard. Well, that will have to do. I have to say the boys were very cool about the whole thing. Mentholated shaving cream does sting the eyes. Yes , I was in control . Someone has to be. It was my photoshoot. Looking back, it was a case of random bits all coming together with no real meaning to begin with. Don`t think about it, just do it


Who/what are the most interesting/entertaining subjects you’ve shot?

There has been a few interesting cases. I find nearly everyone sort of interesting but top of my list has to be Dr John Cunningham Lilly. He seemed to glow as an individual. Didn`t like the camera. A wonderful, fascinating man. Invented the flotation tank, Altered States, the movie was based loosely on his life. He gave me pure MDMA and Ketamine and put me in a flotation tank. I fell asleep I think. You`re not supposed to. Read up on him, truly remarkable


Is there anyone you would have liked to have photographed that you never had the chance to?

Yes.. a studio session with Iggy Pop


A nice addition to your home if you’ve got the dosh (for sale @petergravelle)



Outtakes from the Damned album cover shoot


And is/are there portrait(s) or photo(s) you are most proud of?

Depends on the day and how I feel about photography in general so it varies. I`m working on a book so you will have to wait on this score


You and Barney Bubbles had a company called Exquisite Covers. Who were some of the bands you designed sleeves for? (*I tried to find some online but so far no luck)

Dear Barney. I met him after he had done the Damned first cover with my pics. I was sort of horrified with the big yellow Damned logo to be honest but Barney justified it by saying he wanted it to look like it was off a garage wall, like a cheap calendar. Well, OK. We did Nick Lowe`s single Bowi after but Barney wasn`t getting paid at the time so we came up with Exquisite Covers where by we could work for the commercial industry through.. Humble Pies greatest hits was one, the Nice greatest hits another. There were a few more and that was the money work that enabled him to carry on. We were both doing work for other groups. Me for Snatch, Generation X; Barney for Elvis Costello and Ian Dury. I remember being annoyed with him for not getting me to do those pics but that was more Jake and Robinson`s doing. They would only call me if they had a real problem as when me and Barney had to do Albertos y los Trios Paranoia`s album Italians from Outer Space with photos in a day or photograph five ugly guys for the cover of a Rumour album. That`s when they called me. Barney was a lovely bloke though. Maybe too sweet if that`s possible


How do you feel about NYC? You were married to Patti Palladin. Did you feel like you became a New Yorker by association?

I love NY. I regret ever leaving there. I first visited NYC through Patti but that was mostly Brooklyn. A big no-go for me. Later I moved there and lived there for over two years. It was during this time I finally felt like a New Yorker. I couldn`t stand the place when I first arrived but after a year it was home. Sometimes people think I`m still from New York now which is sort of funny for me. I guess if NY is an attitude, yes I am. Certainly as much as I feel English anyway, or Canadian


You lived in Italy for a long time. Was it a place you grew to love?

Yes, Milan was my home for over 15 years. I lost count after that. Of course Milan isn`t the nicest of Italian cities. In fact it`s one of the worst but that was where the work was so.. yes, I love Italy, the people, their food, their lifestyle. Their love of family (something the English should learn). Yes, I don`t really have anything too bad to say about Italy. Wouldn`t live there now but I have many happy memories of Italy


You’ve lived an interesting life. People associate you with Sid Vicious but you have photographed countless well-known people. Does it bother you that most people think of you in tandem with Sid, because of that night?

Maybe people in music or into music might think that but believe me others know me for a lot more. No, it doesn`t bother me. What can I do about it anyway??


Did you get to know Nancy at all? Your good friend Steve Dior is one of the few people to defend her. He says she bought him a pair of shoes one time..

Of course I knew Nancy. Lucky Steve, she never brought me anything. Anytime I met her she would try borrowing money off me. Her voice was pretty jarring mind you, she was another contradiction: generous one minute, hard as nails the next. What can I say, people weren`t too nice to her behind her back but nearly everyone put up with her mainly because she went out with Sid and Sid liked her


If Sid had lived, what do you think he’d be doing now?

If Sid hadn`t become Vicious would he still be alive? Probably. Punk is TOXIC. It`s the title of one of the chapters in my book.. and no Sid and I were never an item and don`t believe you Lee Black Childers. Maybe he didn`t want to become the next Alvin Stardust

Thanks Peter


Sid Peter Gravelle


la flyers


The B People/Suicide @ King’s palace

los angeles punk flyers

CAPA @ the Cathay de Grande

los angeles punk flyers


Flesh Eaters/Meat Puppets @ Fiesta House

los angeles punk flyers

Iggy @ the Cuckoo’s Nest

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The Crowd @ the Cuckoo’s Nest


Mnemonic Devices @ the Cuckoo’s Nest

los angeles punk flyers

Fear @ the Cuckoo’s Nest

los angeles punk flyers

Mnemonic Devices @ the Cuckoo’s Nest

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The Germs/Bags @ Larchmont Hall

los angeles punk flyers


Divine Horsemen @ Club Lingerie

Divine Horsemen flyer


Flesh Eaters @ Club Lingerie

los angeles punk flyers

Jeffrey Lee Pierce/Divine Horsemen @ Club Lingerie

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DIs/Rank and File @ Club Lingerie

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DIs @ Club Lingerie

DI's flyer

7 Seconds @ Bogarts

los angeles punk flyers