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Detroit, Michigan, United States
I'm a punk rock guru from Detroit. Part skinhead, part crusty, part metalhead, part hardcore kid, part party kid, 100% punk rocker.
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Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Refuge Skateshop Benefit show review, November 13, 2010

Refuge Skateshop Benefit show, Trumbullplex, November 13, 2010


I’m generally unfamiliar with the situation regarding Refuge Skateshop, outside of general money troubles. However, the shop undoubtedly draws a strongly supportive crowd of punk rockers, old, young and in-between. When word had gotten out that the shop had some issues with cash flow, Hawk I frontman Ian Courtney gathered his resources and was able to get an eleven-band bill together to help raise money for the ailing establishment. While it was originally booked at the Bohemian National House, unforeseen problems (power was shut off) occurred and the show was swiftly moved to the Trumbullplex, without a hitch I might add. The show opened its doors at 6 with the bands kicking the event off at 6:30. A raffle for cool punk shit, an eleven-band bill for a killer price, and a majority of these bands being ones I had not heard before made me think, “What could possibly go wrong?” Nothing, it seemed, could.

The first band to roll off the street and onto the stage was Down N Out, who came in with a newer hardcore sound. “Oh boy, another Agnostic Front and Cold as Life wanna-be”, I thought to myself. The band continued on and eventually ended with a few good songs. The speed was kicked up a notch, and the band showed how they were a bit more than just a rip-off of a played-out, generic trend. They actually had something worthwhile about them. That energy, that personal drive, that speed, was what drove this band to be a damn fine opener. I’ll be looking out for these guys.

With a swift change-over, Build & Destroy was on next. With a couple of mic issues, the sound cut in and out vocals-wise. However, despite the relatively unique vocal style employed by the singer, I was not won over by this set. The sound used by the band seemed to lift the style used by most new-age hardcore bands a little too much; breakdowns were the center of this band’s sound as opposed to one of many techniques used to express themselves. Build & Destroy has some capability to be a strong local act, but breakdowns aren’t so much a focal point as they are a single point to be used ad hoc.

Next was Louder Than Bombs, who were one of the two bands I had actually seen before. This rock-infused set of punk wasn’t quite as impressive as when I saw them last at the Garden Bowl in December of last year, but it was still decent. With a variety of influences, they set themselves apart and with that comes a difference in perception for me. The music was good rock and decent punk, and regardless of genre, it really IS motherfucking loud.

After Louder Than Bombs was interim band Shades of Red, who only played about 7-8 minutes of music, but made it impressive still. They didn’t use breakdowns as the main point of reference for their music; they kept up their speed and did not let up. I saw a band with some real potential here; hopefully I can see a demo in the near future. Hardcore youth, keep your eyes and ears peeled. Jimmy Lawson may well have the golden touch.

Face Reality was up now; the first thing I noticed was that the singer had a varsity jacket with Michigan Straight Edge on the back and a giant X on the front. I have a bit of an axe to grind with the straight edge mentality as a whole, so I didn’t know if I was going to see a genuinely awesome set of punk or if I was going to be at a sermon for the United Church of Straight Edge. Upon starting the show, the frontman came full-force with his youthful energy and passionate punk rock drive as his band thrashed behind him. Using breakdown and thrash techniques sparingly, these kids were the highlight of the night; I was really blown away by how fucking good they were. These guys are definitely one of the best straight edge bands in the state, and earned a spot as one of my new favorite local bands. Check. This. Shit. Out.

Hawk I, with a play on a popular Marvel Comics character for a name, took center stage next. The vocalist, Ian Courtney, was the mastermind behind this entire show, and his hard work did not dilute his performance energy, as the band put forth a really powerful show. The singer put so much energy into his performance that all that was necessary was for the band to keep time and push the energy onwards and upwards. Needless to say, they did and it showed. The heart was what drove this set into being as good as it was. I underestimated these guys; get a demo, go to a show, experience this sheer force that is Hawk I.

Following was From Hell, who had been playing a decent amount of shows in the area lately, although I had yet to catch them. Finally I did, and I saw what I had been missing. The loud factor in punk rock can only work so much before it is overextended, and that was the downfall of this set. The singer screeched and the band itself took the “wall of sound” theory of song-writing a bit too far. I see a band that could do something with themselves, but hinder their chances of being better by beefing up their distortion and speed to the point of where it’s indiscernible. If the sound got toned down a bit and the screeching singing was less forceful, this band could be something big.

The second band I had seen previously, Nightbringer, was next. Although making a few annoying comments regarding paying electricity bills, the singer and the rest of the band pushed out a fucking lively, Luciferian set. It’s been a bit since a band got me so goddamned pumped, and these guys did it. From songs off of their recently released 7” record and a few new tracks currently in the works, they crafted a dark energy that will positively haunt the Detroit punk scene for some time. Every member is an indiscernible, irreplaceable piece of this killer act. I think after I get tired of personal favorites Black Flag, SFA, and E.T.A., I’ll listen to these guys when I get pissed off. What a force this band is to reckon with.

After Nightbringer left the stage, the Detroit Birds united on stage for the first time in four years, and it was obvious that they had been yearning to get out there. They set the crowd off in a spectacular way, and having never even heard of them before, they put on a killer show and played some good tunes; whatever their reputation was, I’m sure it is well-deserved if this set was anything close to what these fuckers once were. I know I’ll be seeking some shit out by these guys soon. It was thoroughly impressive and well-deserving of the name Detroit.

Playing second-to-last was oddly named band Razzle Dazzle, or Rzl Dzl for short. I’d read a bit about the band and it seemed like they were a powerful force like the bands who played this night. I was not really disappointed or impressed with these party animals. The band clearly had sway over the crowd, but I didn’t really “get” it. It was a little out there and it wasn’t bad, but it wasn’t for me. Maybe a compilation track that differed from what the set I saw had to offer would change my mind.

Closing the set was the band Fireworks. I only stayed for two songs, but from what I gathered, the band was slightly pop-ish punk, sort of like the Buzzcocks, but without the enjoyably cheesy love songs. I did like what I heard, however. I would definitely check these guys out if you haven’t already. I’m sure I will.

The Skateshop took in $1400+ from this show, and hopefully it brings some life and luxury to the shop/ venue. Without a doubt, it brought out how united hardcore fans can be for the right cause. I also rediscovered why I dislike Vans shoes and still dislike the straight edge mentality. I had a pleasant experience checking out these bands, and this show won me over as a Refuge supporter.

-Aunty Social

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