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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.

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

The Hysterics, Swimsuit, and Dry Eyes at the Neutral Zone, 9/17/12 show review

The Hysterics, Swimsuit, and Dry Eyes at the Neutral Zone, 9/17/12 show review
I finagled quite a bit to make this show fit my schedule- go in two hours early, skip my lunch break, drive right out to the show after punching out, etc.  Hopefully the inconvenience would be worth it.
Oh man, was it ever.  Local high school band Dry Eyes went on first (they were one or two songs into the set when I got there), and though they were young and a bit difficult to define, it seemed like horror-influenced, hardcore-related punk.  I’m not sure if it has a name, but it’s pretty good.  I wasn’t headbanging or moshing, but this band has some good riffage.  I’ll be keeping an eye and an ear out for Dry Eyes- you should too.
Next on the bill was Swimsuit, an arty punk-indie rock mix.  Though this was one of the weirder band I’ve seen, and I doubt I would play music like this or see this band on the regular, this was truly talented music (i.e. they could play their instruments and write a euphonious song) and it was enjoyable.  That much I can respect- props for being different and still good.
Closing out was the band I’d been dying to see, the Hysterics, from Olympia, Washington.  It has a member of Outlook and has a reputation unto itself, so I was excited.  Holy shit- this was one of the more electrifying sets I’ve seen this year.  I have never seen someone be so righteously angry wear such a happy shirt.  Seriously, the singer rocked a Cheerios shirt while blasting out one of the most energetic sets I’ve seen- on top of it all, it is a band of all females- not that it matters, but it is awesome nonetheless.  This quartet just powered through their set, song after song with nary a break, save to explain a song’s meaning (about street harassment, which, as a dude who loves women, has never seemed like an effective flirtatious or networking tactic).  These four females furiously cut through and jammed out hardcore that could have come straight from the 80s, and I wouldn’t have known the difference.  What a band- what a group of awesome people and killer musicians (punk musicians, that is).  This performance was right up there with Hoax’s two performances and Tragedy’s performance- gnarly as FUCK.
I teetered on whether I would attend this or Ceremony later that week in Lansing.  Glad I chose this one.  I would have seriously missed out.
-Aunty Social

My Friends, the Pit Fest III: Indianapolis, IN September 7th-8th show review

My Friends, the Pit Fest III:  Indianapolis, IN September 7th-8th show review
Though a musically prosperous weekend, it was truly a weird experience, mostly due to members of Bald Pig (though it was no fault of their own; they were just being who they are).  Nonetheless, everyone was nice, and the experience was an excellent one- truly a sign of what could be in Michigan.  The basement was very small, not much bigger than that of hometown basement venue the Halfway House.  Traffic was crowded (people, not so much automobiles), but it was well worth the discomfort.  However, the show got a bit of a false start, as the rain that Friday night (September 7th) was pouring rather heavily…
First on were the Zodiacs, local garage-influenced hardcore punk group (local to Indianapolis, not MI).  Though very short and hard to judge, it was not unlike Kommie Kilpatrick and their weirdo, short, punky blasts of old-school hardcore.  I’d like to hear more.
Next was Overpower, a very heavy, angry, local powerviolence band.  Mind Eraser, Spine, and Lack of Interest come to mind- though these guys are a little more tuned down than the latter.  Also a short set, this was alright, but the meathead mentality the singer gave off was more than a little off-putting.  I like a pissed-off singer as much as anyone, but I prefer the guy who’s mad about something real, and the line “Buy the Spine 7” or you’re FUCKING DUMB” clued in he was not.  Oh well- a small mind merely means that there is room to grow.
Then, No Master started playing.  Forty seconds into their first jam, the torrential rainfall got the better of the electrical system, and the power went out.  The show was unfortunately done for the night.  We missed out on the Inservibles and a few others.  Luckily, most of the bands just adjusted the schedule to play the next day- phew.  After finding some solace at a local punk house where I was allowed to sleep (by no small help of a man named Asman- thank you!), I witnessed much in the way of a weirdness foreign and inexplicable to me- I did get to watch Aliens, however; it was a minor plus in an otherwise bizarre evening.  I woke up the next day reinvigorated and explored the town a bit.  After finding little to enjoy, I burned time until the show had to start at 6 (by reading a national road map, Animal Farm, trying to sleep, and watching the locals act out their very dramatic lives).  Though the time crawled, I managed to make it ‘til the start of the show.
Opening was thrashy local youth crew, Blind Justice (whom I, and I’m sure others, had initially mistaken to be the band from the same name from New Jersey).  Much like the Zodiacs of the night before, this set was over with in a matter of about eight minutes- as opposed to the low-fi hardcore the latter band had, this was straight youth crew in the vein of Straight Ahead, a harder-edged 7 Seconds, and maybe a little Infest.  In that eight minutes, they crammed in probably about as many songs as there were minutes, barely stopping in between- just how punk ought to be played.
Next was Side FX, the local band whose members helped organize the show.  Again, a less than ten minute set, played with unwavering fury.  This is basically 80s hardcore with a modern twist- modern hardcore mixed with the bands of old like Siege, Deep Wound, early SSD, and the like.  Intense and straight to the point.
Civilized, from Denver, went on next.  They mixed newer, slower hardcore with older, faster hardcore, though after a couple of songs, it didn’t seem to fit, and I traveled outside to get my merch buying out of the way.  I didn’t hate it, but I wasn’t taken in very much by it, either.
Next was Bald Pig, a new-ish contemporary of the Kansas City group Spine.  The vocalist went a bit nuts as the band raged, spewing out words as he seemed to lose all self-control, crawling on the floor for some very cool reason.  The powerviolence was strong in this hardcore band- the image of Pantera’s “Vulgar Display of Power” would be far more fitting on this band, because that’s all one would want to do while this band’s music is playing.
After that was the band Mugger, from Columbus, Ohio.  I cannot, for the life of me, remember what this band was like.  I can recall no particular unpleasantries about them, and they jammed a few righteous tunes, I’m sure.  They have a demo tape floating around in a few distros.
No Master joined the party, following this.  This band is absolutely influenced by the D-beat, studs, and spikes sorts of bands, but they came off as being more or less a simple hardcore band, breakdowns and all.  Now that’s a fusion I’ve wanted to see done well, and No Master is undoubtedly the first band in a long, long time to do that successfully.  This set did not have its power cut abruptly, and the band raged for a good fifteen minute set- one of the better displays of the night.
Spine was after this.  Though a band incurring some hype in the hardcore community, they have deserved it, and put on a quick ten to twelve minute set of powerviolence-laced hardcore, that either flew by at breakneck speed or crawled at a snail’s pace, heavy as shit.   This was also the release show for the band’s “Subhuman” EP, which was nabbed by many a showgoer (myself included- review forthcoming on that one!).  A band one could call “hard”, but still enjoyable for being fast as well.
Following was Negative Degree, a hardcore band in the vein of all the poorly-recorded hardcore bands of the 80s (that we all know and love).  This was the band that really got everyone moving for the rest of the show, and it was exciting to see all these hardcore kids who knew all the words to this band’s songs (despite them not being on any kind of “big” label, and being all the way from Denver), dancing to them the way I’ve always remembered mosh pits being- that is, like a bumper car ride, but with a bunch of lanky kids hyped on a mixture of excitement, energy, and either the straight edge, caffeine, or booze, depending on the fans’ personal indulgence preferences.  Hardcore as it should be, no doubt.
Cadaver Dog was next.  I can’t remember much about this set either, but the vocalist was good at being scary as fuck.  By this time, I think I had mostly lost my mental composure waiting for Hoax to play.
The Ropes were the next band.  This band reminded me of early 90s hardcore, along the lines of Strife, maybe a less political Earth Crisis, and the like.  However, they had some faster verse parts with regard to the music, as opposed to being all chugga-chugga.  The basement packed to near capacity for these guys, and even form the near-back of the room, I could see the crowd was hype on these guys.  I enjoyed it, but I was all too eagerly anticipating the next two bands, Hoax and Salvation.  Still a good set.
Next to last was Salvation.  All I knew about these guys was that they shared members with Hoax, and that was enough to get my attention if only for a moment.  However, after the band got started, they had my attention MUCH more firmly.  This was hardcore punk for the psychopath- fit my slightly deranged persona well.  Despite not being overly heavy, the intensity was akin to a house fire burning three stories high, heating and simultaneously destroying all around it.  The singer was as unbalanced as I’d ever seen any singer, from H8 Inc. to Hoax to G.I.S.M. and back.  Finally, when they got to their last song “House of the Beating Hell”, I realized this was the theme song for deranged, deviant, distorted minds- it was a song that made me want to hurt people, in the best way possible.  It was truly transcendental.
Closing was Hoax, who set off the entire room when they started.  Damn near the whole crowd knew all the words to their songs, and screamed them loud as the singer raged in his trademark insane way.  Not since I witnessed a set by Hellmouth in February 2010 have I been afraid of a vocalist onstage- this man is a kindred spirit for sheer unbalanced genius (not that I’m a genius, but I like to think I have relatively unique perspective above the minds of others).  The music is bone-crushing, brutally angry low-fi hardcore punk with the bleakest lyrics ever written, sung/screamed over the anthems.  The band must have blasted out every single song in their discography, aside from their trademark anti-homophobia song, and the crowd could not have been happier with this.  This is one of the most important bands of modern hardcore, and time will show them to be one of the higher-echelon bands of all time as well, I believe.  Simple, yet so extremely, unshakably intense and angry- this is the one band whose show I would be happy to get face-punched at.
That was the end of the show at the I.H.O.P. (International House of Pitting, not the delicious restaurant chain), but there would be an after-show with Negative Degree and the Ropes at a pizza parlor a bit further down into the city.  After picking multiple brains to learn the address of the place (why did so many people get there, yet no one seemed to know the address itself), I finally got it and drove down (again, thanks Asman!).  The show was just getting set up as I walked in, so I grabbed a few tasty slices of pizza as the bands set up and the crowd arrived one by one.
Negative Degree went on first.  Though doing a few songs they had done at the earlier show, they did a few odd songs one wouldn’t expect, including a cover of “Ain’t No Feeble Bastard” that made me overjoyed, because I didn’t expect at all to hear an 80s hardcore band cover Discharge (usually, it’s all D-beat bands who bow at the throne of the band)- it was very welcome.  The crowd was much more spread out, and noticeably moved around that much more.  It was cool to see this many punks in one room, a pizza parlor lobby, dancing around like lunatics.
The Ropes followed, and also did a few odd songs, and tricked the crowd into thinking they were gonna do “We Gotta Know”, because they played the intro part, then cut into a different cover song I didn’t know- still gnarly anyways.  After the set ended, I talked to a few of the locals and the guys in Negative Degree, and nabbed a cheap hotel for the night (being around that many people for so long had me feeling claustrophobic as fuck).  The next day, it was a long drive back home, but seeing as how I got to eat at a Waffle House and see the variety of farming fields along the freeway, I wasn’t too bored.  Lessons to be learned from this trip:  Find a place to stay with friends if at all possible, even if it’s awkward, and it sucks traveling more than two hours by one’s self.
-Aunty Social

Lil B- “Wonton Soup” single review

Lil B- “Wonton Soup” single review
What can one say about this fabled underground hip-hop artist?  He is as nasally as Bob Dylan and his rhymes can be downright bizarre, but the man’s work is intoxicating.  The subject matter of the song is unclear, but my senses indicate that it is an ambiguous mix of metaphorical soup and contemporary rap themes.  The most noticeable line in the song is directly related to typical valet duties and involuntary infidelity on the narrator’s part.  Lil B, who also goes by the name “Based God”, steers his way through a crash course of celebrity name drops and rhymes to make it to the end of his song.  While the music is at times an indiscernible mess, it is also undeniably amusing, entertaining, and a song that one can groove to.  While I have always preferred chicken noodle or New England clam chowder, perhaps I will give this wonton soup a try.  Thank you, Based God!
-Aunty Social

F.O.A.D.- Filthiest of Apocalyptic Detroit compilation LP review

F.O.A.D.- Filthiest of Apocalyptic Detroit compilation LP review
As a package, this is a great example of how to do a compilation on vinyl- four bands, two songs each, lyrics and band shots included, and layout ever so crisp, complete with a painting by Tim “Shagrat” Jenkins, who also appears in two bands on this compilation.  So, by appearance, I see a great level of potential.  Would the music live up to it (and the level of local popularity all the featured bands have)?
First song on the record is Reaper’s “Satanic Leather”, a tale of being metal dogs in Detroit, and detailing a series of unfortunate events that happened with the band, yet it never deterred them from continuing to make music.  The riffs are good, and the leads rip, but the vocals have a bit too much reverb, and they’re hard to hear.  A good song in its own right, though.  I’ll be the audiophile who likes the song, but not the mixing job.  “Satan Approves” is a title that, for some reason, reminds me of the Jesus figure in Dogma, but of a dark red, winged figure giving a cheery thumbs up instead.  Music-wise, I like the vocals better on this song, and the music is blitzing thrash metal in its lo-fi glory.  Very gnarly.  Next is Perversion, a more blackened thrash metal band who has been around for a few years, only recently playing bigger gigs and getting out of town more.  “Morbid Aggressor” has some tight playing and some leads that shred, but I couldn’t get into it- maybe it wasn’t fast enough, or the vocals were a bit rough for me, but I wasn’t banging my head much.  “Storm of Evil” picks up the pace and carries in some better riffs and vocals, ringing heavily of “Hell Awaits” and “Chemical Warfare”-era Slayer.  The song carries on for a bit too long, but otherwise is a solid metal jam.
Shitfucker kicks off the other side of the wax with “Bestial Ice”.  The lyrics leave me with more questions than answers- I’ll leave it at that.  The music is decent- the drums are tight, maybe mixed a bit too high, the bass and guitar are bit hard to hear and possibly mixed too low, but they can be heard distinctly if one listens closely enough.  The vocals are truly unique- extremely weird, but unique.  “Araknophobia” is an evenly mixed metal-punk song that seems to have an organ in the background- very cool, actually.  Same style of vocals here; the guitars and bass are both a little more audible, and it really helps them sound better.  I could circle pit to this song.  Lastly is Anguish, who have gone from a more straightforward crust punk sound to a rock and roll-leaning Motorhead style of music.  The vocals are nowhere near Lemmy’s trademark growl-y shout, and instead are clear and not too far off from Ian Gillan’s Deep Purple-era voice, and (dare I say it) is also comparable to Axe Ripper’s melodic-styled vocals, though it is distinctly different.  “The Onslaught Continues” is alright, but as a song, I’m not a big fan.  I was never that into mid-paced 70s-era heavy metal beyond the classics, and even those only somewhat so- in other words, not my style of music, to a large extent.  The bass sound is fucking sweet, though.  “A Blade in the Dark” has better riffs and better song formation- despite being a bit too long, it still rocks.  It may be the mix of the funky, cool bass sound with the speed metal guitar sound, but I dig this a bit.  Deserves a jam every so often.
Weirdly enough, the bands’ second song is better with all four bands, in my opinion.  Not a must have, but absolutely worth borrowing from a friend.
-Aunty Social

Bad Assets- The Spirit of Detroit CD review

Bad Assets- The Spirit of Detroit CD review
There are many stereotypes of Oi! music that often make one laugh at the cheesiness: Going out for a drink with ‘the boys’, the general independence/ distrust of authority, hatred of working/ one’s job, and being boot boys of some sort.  This is mostly a mix of those things, plus an addition of a Detroit and modern twist to the songs.  Although all the elements of cheese are present, Bad Assets manages to avoid being too cheesy- it’s what I would call an “appropriate level of cheese”.  This is actually pretty stellar ’77 style punk rock (without the artiness of Richard Hell or the cock rock feel of the Dead Boys) with some clear, crisp production that gives the album an appropriate feel.  Not a groundbreaking release, but a strong one for the genre that it is.  If you ever listened to Blitz or felt like going out for a drink with ‘the boys’, give this a listen.
-Aunty Social