Metal, Hardcore, Punk, Death Metal, Thrash Metal... whatever

Metal, Hardcore, Punk, Death Metal, Thrash Metal... Qwerty and miserable, always wanting more.

Thursday, July 12, 2018

Music Festivals: A Personal and Truncated Memoir.

Not me, but really a festival "everyman"
As a whole, I am not fond of music festivals. Particularly big (or small) open air stages filled with overpriced food and beverages and sound akin to a loud tin can falling into a puddle. That’s not to say I haven’t had positive experiences attending one, it’s just that, as a whole, at some point you realize you’re standing in a field, or a parking lot; baking in the hot sun, or having rain pissed on you. I often think, “Have conditions ever been 100% exactly perfect for a festival in North America?” After going to Punk Rock Bowling in 2016 to see Dag Nasty, I SWORE I’d never go to another outdoor gig. Yet since, I’ve still found myself at them, either wishing I had a jacket, or a bag to put stuff in, or maybe something I would actually want to eat while I’m fucking locked inside the fences; is that too much to ask?             
 The first outdoor “music festival” I attended was Lollapaloza in Barrie, Ontario in July of 1993. I went with a group of friends who I had graduated with a year earlier. It was really the last “big thing” we did before two of them decided to head off to the army. It was a hot day, you weren’t allowed to bring anything in and food and water was pretty expensive. Then again, alternative rock was pretty big business by the point, with bands and labels making money hand over fist. I went wearing an Inside Out long sleeve shirt and HUGE ‘X’s” on my hand, with the intention of getting on top of the crowd during Rage Against the Machine and giving the middle finger to Zack de la Rocha for “selling out” straight edge. I made my way to the front, near the barrier and waited… The opening bass line to “Bombtrack” started and when the drums kicked in with “UHH!” I was lifted from my feet by the surging crowd and toppled over.  I have been in fights at shows, foolishly dived off stages, but in that instance, I truly feared for my safety; I had no control as to where I could move to as more and more people fell on top of me. After what seemed like an eternity, I pulled myself up and fought my way out of the densely packed crowd. I walked far up on the lawn and watched RATM level the place. I saw a lot of bands that day, even fell asleep on said lawn during Dinosaur Jr. but that Rage set was something so great that (last minute) I went to see the same show 2 weeks later in PA. I honestly don’t remember RATM’s set from the second show, just falling asleep on the lawn (again) to Dino Jr. I also bought a copy of the Bhagavad Gita and a Youth of Today “Youth Crew 88” shirt (right off the back) from a Hare Krishna guy in the parking lot.
Lifted from a google search
A couple of weekends ago, I’m hoping that I went to what will be my last outdoor festival, not that it was terrible, I just don’t like experiencing music this way.  Anyway, I took a chance on something called “Burger Boogaloo” in Oakland. Mostly, the lineup consisted of bands that seem far too “hip,” or something, than my “I grew up in the suburbs in the 80’s” taste. It seemed like it was mostly stuff for people who live in gentrified areas of a city and stay out late drinking Pabst Blue Ribbon on a weeknight.  I arrived in the early afternoon, waited an hour in line and pleasantly ran into my friend Mike, whom Dead Hearts (my old band; Mike happens to be an uncle of another member, but is my age) had stayed with a bunch on tour. Mike drove a long way (Olympia, WA) to get to the show. We caught up and tried to watch Mudhoney but they were as boring as I’d remembered.  I was never much of a “college rock” or “grunge" guy, so no surprise there. Some other bands played, but I barely watched any, until The Mummies came out and wrecked the place. Now, seeing a band in broad day light in not optimal and I think most people can agree that seeing a band in a dark, packed club is always the ideal. I saw Dimmu Borgir once in the middle of the day at an outdoor gig in 90 degree heat and high humidity: it did NOT work on any level. I actually felt bad for those guys having to do their evil black metal shtick while slowly melting on stage.  Anyway, the Mummies came out and after one of the greatest introductions I have ever seen, ROCKED. Their gimmick works at 6:45pm as well at it would at 11, so I was pretty into it.
The Mummies, photo by the author
I had made my way upfront long before The Mummies in order to secure a spot for the reason I came: DEVO. A band I had discovered/ liked in 1981, fell in love with in 87 and never looked back. I wasn’t a completest, but I had the Freedom of Choice and Are We Not Men? LPs and Greatest Hits on cassette, which I listened to on my Walkman riding the bus to and from high school in between blasts of thrash metal and hardcore. At the time, I didn’t have a copy of Duty Now For The Future, so on the extra blank space on side two of said cassette, I dubbed “The Day My Baby Gave Me  a Surprise,” my favorite song, off of the We’re All Devo Vhs tape I had. I wasn’t cool, and even though they acted like they weren’t, Devo certainly was.
John Waters came out and did a stumbly, odd-paced introduction and then we were off to the races. Devo sounded EXCELLENT and exceeded all of my expectations: Girl U Want/ Whip It/ (I Can't Get No) Satisfaction/ Secret Agent Man/ Uncontrollable Urge/ Mongoloid/ Jocko Homo/ Smart Patrol/Mr. DNA/ Gates of Steel/ DEVO Corporate Anthem/ Gut Feeling (Slap Your Mammy)/ Beautiful World/ The Girl Can't Help It/ Come Back Jonee. It was really incredible, with the only song TRULY missing from the set was Freedom of Choice and seemed to be the only complaints fans had while I was leaving. It only took me like 37 years from when I first heard “Through Being Cool” to finally see them, I had been kicking myself for the many times I missed them over the years, but now that box is checked and I’m REALLY hoping that this is the last time I have to go to another outdoor festival gig, unless of course, I can sleep on the lawn during Dinosaur Jr.

photo by the author
Photo by the author


Thursday, March 1, 2018

My journal entry from Dec 15th, 2001


Below is from my journal from 2001, after I saw the Bad Brains totally disappoint a massive crowd at the Showplace Theater in Buffalo, NY. Although I has seen Human Rights 10 years prior and the Brain's twice, this was the only time I saw them with HR on vocals. I saw them at CBGB's a few years later with JJ Bloodclot from the Cro-Mags singing and that was pretty good. The show mentioned below, was not. 


"Herod sounded like mush

Three Below sounded like mush wearing leather pants.

The sound at the Showplace is mush...

But the Bad Brains somehow managed to change that... they sounded phenomenal and every note and musical delivery was flawless... but wait something's fishy here...

HR the once proud frontman of the bad brains has taken a trip to the stars- where his body remains on earth and his mind is somewhere else in the universe. To understand what I am talking about check out a few x men comics when professor x's brain takes a vacation.

HR lives in his own little world. in this world, the audience is laughing with him and his love for Jah. Unfortunately, this is NOT the case. They’re laughing AT him ... his ridiculous banter and wacked out creepy guy at the bus station mannerisms speak more for the thousands of mentally ill homeless than for the purveyors of hardcore punk. it's amazing how disconnected he was. What is also amazing is that the band was completely raging around him, almost equally disconnected; disconnected in the sense that they didn't seem to pay any mind what so ever to their "frontman".

the band as a whole truly mimicked hr's mental illness. it was like the body functioned normally ( Dr. Know, Earl Hudson and Daryl Jennifer) but the mind controlling it (HR) was leading this visage towards bizarre madness and utter destruction.

The quotable HR:
"We are not earth wind and fire"
"Don't you ever forget my name"
"Jesus Christ was not god, he was the son of god"
"I like your knockers"

He also said "I love you all" more than Ozzy does on the Randy Rhoades tribute album.

HR came across as the crazy uncle who shows up at the family reunion gropes all your female cousins, eats your food, talks about the bible and tells dick and fart jokes until he asks you to give him a ride home...

I stood in front of Dr. Know the entire time, basking in his masterful playing...

Wow... I can't believe the contrast from the first two times I saw the Bad Brains. Granted they had Chuck Mosley singing the first time and Joseph I singing the second but they stilled ruled and it wasn't that the band didn't rage... they did... it was just that before the singer's voice may not have been dead on with HR's BUT they went off... I think this is the first time I've ever seen a band where the band goes off and the singer just doesn't care... strange."

Tuesday, January 2, 2018

Recent podcast interview

A good friend of mine has been doing a podcast for about a year now and asked me to talk about my experiences with music and the bands I've been in. So, I thought I'd treat him with an opening rant about how the most recent Danzig sucks and talk about a new band I tried to do that didn't end up happening.

I rant and talk about my favorite subject, me.


Thursday, September 21, 2017

Sacred Reich, It's cool, fool.

I know this has been in my blog before, X-mas 89, dress shirt open to reveal Sacred Reich shirt
It’s never been a secret that my first love was heavy metal and that the first “scene” I truly felt apart of was the trash metal scene. I went to A LOT of thrash shows from 1989-91 (and beyond!) and this past Saturday I went to see one of my favorites: Sacred Reich.

I first discovered Sacred Reich in 1988 through the Best of Metal Blade Volume 3 Cassette I bought at Cavages, in the long since defunct Summit Park Mall in Wheatfield, NY. The song Death Squad was better and heavier than anything else on that tape, mostly because what would’ve otherwise been the best track, the live version of Die By The Sword by Slayer, I already knew.  Shortly thereafter, Surf Nicaragua came out, and I considered Sacred Reich to be on par with all the other thrash bands I loved;  Slayer, Metallica, Anthrax, and Exodus. The American Way was released in 1990 and it was my favorite album that summer.
In August 1990, I ventured to see a HUGE show at the Skyroom in Buffalo: Forced Entry, Obituary, Sacred Reich and local heroes Cannibal Corpse. It happened to be the record release show for Cannibal Corpse’s debut Eaten Back To Life.  Phil Rind from SR took the time to talk to me before their set and sign a couple t shirts; I’m not big on autographs, but as far as I was concerned at the time, he was in the best band I had ever heard. I found him to be funny and down to earth.  On stage, and clearly in the middle of a largely Cannibal Corpse/ death metal crowd, Phil made a comment about how SR “sung about real stuff” and not fantasy. CC seemed to take exception to this, and with a straight fucking face their singer announced on stage that they “sung about real shit, LIKE ZOMBIES!” That has stuck with me for 27 years, how fucking cool Sacred Reich were and how ridiculous Cannibal Corpse are. Later that week, as I was walking down Main Street in Tonawanda, NY, I happened to notice a poster for the American Way hanging in an office window with Atrie Kwitchoff, the show’s promoter, taking it down. I knocked on the window and asked him for the poster, which he was happy to do. Artie was always really cool to me and giving me that poster was one of those perfect moments of adolescent synchronicity. That poster hung in my bedroom until 1995, when I moved into my first apartment, as it didn't survive being removed from the wall.

A few days shy of a year later, Sacred Reich played Buffalo again on the “New Titans on the Block” tour.  I had seen Sick of it all and Napalm Death earlier that year and was really anticipating seeing the great Sepultura, but NOTHING, I mean NOTHING could bottle my excitement for the Sacred Reich set. The whole show was awesome and I even mustered up the courage to do my second stage dive ever during Napalm Death, but the venue’s stage was just too high up to really enjoy the show from upfront, so I watched most of the gig from the back seated area.

I bought the A Question single shortly after this and LOVED it. It was heavy, with a groove (the way the music scene started to turn at the time) and had lyrics I could really jive on. Sacred Reich could do no wrong, until, well, they did.
The day after my 19th birthday in 1993, I saw Sacred Reich for what would be the last time until 24 and ½ years later and it fell pretty flat. They were two years removed from the A Question single and touring on a new record that, aside from the title track, I really didn’t like. Plus, they played with Malhavoc, who were a shadow of the insane band I had seen in 1990 and 91 and Snapcase, who were rising fast. It was one of those occasions when the local opener smoked the headliner and the support act.  The next album, Heal, I didn’t even bother with, content to listen to The American Way over and over for the next 20 plus years.

Eventually, I grew to like Independent and tracks off of Heal, but they really sound like a band lost. I think if A Question had made it on to Independent and had they dropped a coupled of the weaker tracks, the album may have fared better with fans, including me. The early 90’s, post alternative rock, was such a bad time for metal and the bands with careers on the line made poor and sometimes desperate choices that probably seemed sound at the time. Sometimes bands collectively struggle with their identity and I think it became really apparent during the decline of the trash metal scene. I mean fuck, even Metallica cut their fucking hair and wore makeup and eyeliner, could you imagine them doing that in 1989? Not on your life. The big difference is that Metallica had the Black album under their belt and money still pouring in when their peers and smaller bands were struggling to stay afloat creatively and financially.  Thankfully, metal in general had a huge resurgence in the post Nu Metal climate; leading to a renewed interest in metal across the board since the early 2000’s.This is what lead to me being able to see Sacred Reich again in 2017.
I was not impressed by the tour’s support acts, but gave them both a chance. By the time Sacred Reich came on, I was hungry for great fucking tunes and they did NOT disappoint.
Jason looks thrilled.
Ignorance/ Administrative Decisions/ One Nation/ Love...Hate/ Victim of Demise/ Violent Solutions/ Crimes Against Humanity/ Who's to Blame/ I Don't Know/ Free/ Independent/ War Pigs/ The American Way/ Death Squad/ Surf Nicaragua. 

Now that’s a setlist! Dave McClain, their second drummer, joined them on stage for the songs from Independent. Dave is a tight fucking drummer, but he lacks the aggressive swing that Greg has. It’s like the difference between and analog and digital recording, both deliver sound and can be excellent, but have very different nuances. Still, I enjoyed seeing them both on stage. I would have liked to have heard Draining you of Life and A Question, but the seltlist was concise and well delivered and MUCH better than the show in 1993. What a great band.

Wednesday, August 23, 2017

Martyrs and Motherfuckers, my old 'zine

17 years ago (the year 2000!) I did a 'zine called Martyrs and Motherfuckers. My friend Mark was kind enough to scan in the first issue for me, as I never kept one. I did three 'zines total; Blood on the Floor, Prick and the one you'll find below for your reading pleasure (I was also a regular contributor to Mark's 'zine Hello My Name Is) I cringe at some of it, but overall, I think it was a good 'zine. 
(PDF link at the bottom of the page)








































If you'd like to download a pdf of this illustrious piece of JDS history, you can do so HERE.