I am told the stakes have risen for Militarie Gun in the past six months, though walking through a Saturday crowd at Chain Reaction, I can’t find much evidence of it.

Even now, with a major label behind them—plus a true press agent, a new manager, and the backing of one of the best touring agencies in the U.S.—things seem to be humming along as usual. In the end, the team won’t do what the band can do for themselves.

Chain Reaction is in Anaheim, a city that people flock to for Disneyland and that’s about it. The venue opened in ’96 and functions as a way station between Los Angeles and San Diego; it’s a 250-capacity club, perfect for new, local, and touring bands. The well-worn backstage features one big trough where the bands spend their time, with little closets of personal space trickling off for individual privacy. “Egalitarian” is a pleasant way to put it—bands, no matter where they land on the bill, cluster together and intermingle like position groups within a football team.

It is not a glamorous venue; the entire place feels like there’s a coat of dust on it, like when you find a cool toy in the attic and an adult voice comes from behind you to say, “That thing still works perfectly.” (Or maybe if you find it when you’re young enough, it can destroy your life, like in Jumanji.) The snack bar recently started selling beer, which adds to the feeling of compromise and functionality. The place is packed with locals and kids; this is their perfect Saturday night. It is where bands gear up for bigger things while they’re still safe from the industry goons an hour north.

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