The Atomic Machines

City’s First Punk Festival Rocks Vallejo

mocktoberVallejo’s first punk festival kicked off Saturday with an art show, movie screening, and — of course — punk bands.

The four-day Mocktoberfest is raising money for a music program for 10 Vallejo children, chosen randomly, to receive free music classes and an instrument they would like to play.

The focus on youth attracted many area punk artists to get involved.

Oakland-based nSLASHa, which performed Saturday night at the Bay Terrace Theater, said they were approached by organizer TJ Walkup a few months ago about performing at Mocktoberfest and learned about the festival’s purpose.

“He’s really in tune with the immediate needs in the city he lives in,” Todd Buller of nSLASHa said. “I think the kids want something like this. Anything to support children and music.”

Buller and his bandmate Paul MacLachlan will be performing again Saturday at the Empress Theatre.

“This is our first time in Vallejo, and we’re excited to see what Vallejo is like,” MacLachlan said. “I know (the festival) is something new for the area.”

Walkup’s wife Christina, the festival’s co-organizer, said she realizes that punk might not be everyone’s taste, “but we want to invite everyone, young, old, all ages, anyone who likes to see a fun show.

“Punk rock is peaceful, and can bring so much positivity,” Christina Walkup said.

To introduce the idea of punk, one of the bands performed Saturday Atomic Machines during lunch hour at Hogan Middle School.

“It was probably our best performance ever this year,” drummer Joshua Conrow said. “They were really into it. It was so much fun.”

His band members agreed, and said despite the large number of children, it wrapped up peacefully without any issues.

Resonating Christina Walkup’s sentiment, frontman Dan Dafoe said punk received a misplaced negative stereotype.

“There’s so much positivity in (punk music’s) message,” Dafoe said. “It’s about embracing who you are.”

The San Francisco band, also performing Saturday, will perform again on the festival’s second day Friday at the Bay Terrace Theater.

Another performer Saturday was the San Jose three-man band Klank. Their members said festivals like Mocktoberfest keeps the punk movement alive.

“You got to encourage people, especially youth, (to take up music), it’ll keep them out of trouble,” guitarist and singer Klank Diolosa said. “We are glad to be part of it and more people should support their local music scene.”

TJ and Christina Walkup said they will continue to offer all-ages events throughout the year in their city, in addition to Mocktoberfest.

Anyone 12 to 18 can apply for the music program. Applications can be found online at or at the event.

By Irma Widjojo Times-Herald staff writer/