My name is Quynn Lubs and I am the founder of JUNK! Punk Show, a music and art collective based in Santa Clarita, California.
The main goal of JUNK! is to support and uplift the artists in our scene. We book shows once a month with a variety of Los Angeles and Santa Clarita local bands. The scene in Santa Clarita has been emerging as of late, largely in part due to the overwhelming presence of conservative view points in our city. The way I see it, the heavy conservative presence here has lead to an equally heavy progressive presence that has evolved into a rather large punk scene. The existence of one extreme will eventually lead to the development of the other extreme.
Backyard shows as well as new punk bands are rapidly appearing throughout the Santa Clarita Valley. The scene here is young, mostly high schoolers who are looking for a safe place to be themselves in a city that has always been known to advocate for the opposite. The punk scene gave them this space; a place to belong without worries of judgment or ridicule.
In October of 2021, I was asked to create the program for a music festival at the Westfield Valencia Mall under the Santa Clarita International Film Festival. I booked punk and rock bands as well as hip hop and blues artists from the Santa Clarita Valley and surrounding areas.
The festival was set to go for Friday December 10, Saturday December 11 and Sunday December 12. The program for Friday and Saturday consisted of mostly punk and rock bands from the Santa Clarita Valley. These bands are new, young and incredibly talented. JUNK! works to provide artists like this with a space to share their art, again, without judgment or ridicule.
Throughout the day on Friday, we received complaints from the Salt Creek Grill, a restaurant in the Westfield Valencia mall directly across from where the music festival was taking place. The restaurant management was made aware of the festival before it began, however, once the bands were actually playing, they made complaints to security that the bands were too loud and the lyrics were too explicit — even though the mall never made us aware that songs needed to be censored.
Security came multiple times throughout the day Friday to tell us to turn the music down. We complied.
During a set by Plexe, a patron of Salt Creek Grill actually came up and interrupted their set to tell them to turn their music down, saying “We’re trying to eat dinner.”
During a set by Ipsofakto, Salt Creek Grill complained that a party of 18 left the restaurant due to noise from the festival.
By the end of the day on Friday, the mall had told us that the music festival likely could not continue for the rest of the weekend. They stated that the music “wasn’t family friendly,” and that the festival was too loud for the mall tenants, specifically Salt Creek Grill.
Lisa Desouza, the main organizer of the festival, reached out to the mall on Saturday to ask them to reconsider this decision. Desouza threatened to sue the mall on the basis that there were sponsors for the festival event, and the mall was aware from the get-go that this event would be noisy, or they should not have let us play there in the first place.
The mall stated that they would allow the festival to continue on Sunday, because the bands that were booked for Sunday were mainly Christian bands, country musicians and choirs. The stated that they did not want any punk or rock music because that was not the “look” that they were going for.
The mall allowed the festival to continue on Sunday, despite one of the bands that day being a rock band, because they were a Christian rock band.
As Desouza said to me over the phone, “You can’t pick and choose which art is good enough to perform. That’s not art, that’s censorship.”
I’m pissed off. And I hope you are too, if you’re reading this.
It’s obvious to me that a place like Santa Clarita was never made to foster creative growth. This city was made for conservatives. It’s a white flight suburb — a place that white people fled to in the 1950s and 1960s when school desegregation began because they were afraid of ethnocultural diversity.
Every member of our city council is a conservative, most of them extremists, like Councilmember Jason Gibbs, who is a public member of an anti-Muslim hate group.
This city is everything that I am against. It’s everything that punk is against — that’s why the scene here is growing so rapidly. We’re fed up with the bullshit.
So when I had the opportunity to involve the local scene in a city event like this music festival, I jumped on it. I wanted us to share our beliefs, to show those who may feel alone or out of place in Santa Clarita that they are not.
But, of course, as I should have expected, the people in charge shut us down to give the spotlight to exclusively country singers and Christian bands.
It’s difficult to initiate change and I understand that. It’s just so disappointing when some of these bands are young creatives from Santa Clarita, and yet, they are still not supported by the very city that they grew up in.
So FUCK the Westfield Mall. FUCK Salt Creek Grill. FUCK every authority figure that wants to shut us down because we don’t look or act the way they want us to.
It’s discouraging when we don’t receive support, but it’s also not surprising, and almost expected at this point. But that doesn’t mean we should just sulk and hide away; it means we have to go ten times harder until we’re so obviously here that we can’t just be ignored and shut away anymore.
Continue creating, continue writing, continue throwing shows, because even if this fucked up city won’t support you, our community will.
Boycott the Westfield Valencia Mall and boycott Salt Creek Grille (their food is shitty and overpriced anyway) and remember that as long as fucked up shit like this is happening, the stronger we become. We are a voice, and an important one at that. We are loud and obnoxious and difficult to ignore — let’s keep it that way.