Wednesday, June 29, 2016
By John Lisa
FLAG last night at the Gramercy was easily the best live performance I'd ever seen of FLAG OR Black Flag. I caught up with Dez and expressed the fact. The tracks he sang toward the end were that of an unhinged BEAST. “I’ve Heard it Before” stood out and gave me a tear because that was my friend John Stabb's fave track.
Dez and Stephen's guitars were probably PURPOSELY a little dissonant and it was CHILLING at the kickoff of “My War.” The sold out show exploded at 10 p.m. and it seemed to me that it was 1982 all over. Bodies all over. Tense shuffling spinning crowd, jumping up, against or all over. No let up with the energy until the last note. I'm pushing 50 years old but I managed to dance my balls off in the back, or pogo somewhere at the cusp of the pit.
“Clocked In” got a huge response because well, we have to be up early. No one cared at that point. A few thousand people all in it together. Arms around people we don't know, but were singing together. We live these songs with each other. Plenty of stuff from “Damaged” with the Keith vibe pre Rollins. Song after 2-minute song after 2-minute song with little or no rest. I was a kid again and the mosh pit was akin without anyone being a dick. FLAG have outgrown the Gramercy and will be sure to hit PlayStation Center next.
Stephen Egerton NEEDS to be in Rolling Stone's 500 top guitarists. I'm going to sleep for a week. It's so ironic that eventually, Greg Ginn's legacy will come by way of someone who plays his guitar style equal or better but with much more mania AND discipline. Everyone knows and loves these sentiments. And a lot of younger kids getting the education they desperately need.
It should also be post noted that seeing Black Flag live in the ‘80s, there were moments where my breathing became scarce. Well it happened again tonight. I had to sit down and rest a few times. So glad to see Bill and Stephen with quality time. Met Keith for the first time and Dez too. This show will be LEGEND.
Tuesday, June 21, 2016
Take a close look. You're in there somewhere.
When reading "Crate Digger" by Bob Suren, it's like peering into a mirror. Sometimes, everything's crystal clear, and life is good. At others, the object is a bit chipped, but still OK to deal with. But when it's smashed to pieces, you just want to surrender.
But you carry on -- through anger and tears when you've gone from victory to despair -- and keep moving up the cracked sidewalks to see what's around the next corner.
We're talking about life here, but also an obsession with punk records that took Suren from innocence among the stacks and the gig spaces to diving full-on into the DIY music realm -- label, distribution, store and more -- and playing in a plethora of bands. The Sound Idea and Burrito Records kingpin not only made an impact in his native Florida, but around the globe by hooking up new and veteran listeners alike with the crucial sounds that shaped his and many others' lives. He's one of the many punk pied pipers that we all should be stoked to have on our side.
From love and records gained to the loss of both, Suren shares his life with us and holds nothing back. Not an ounce. This guy's honesty and willingness to lay it all on the line for readers is something that many of us would never attempt. It's commendable because we get to examine our own lives through his highs and lows -- giving us a chance to wake up and change some things before they're gone. He's witty and gutsy and has a memory like a steel trap -- or a steel-toed boot that has seen some serious time in the pit.
"To this day, I still burst into verses of 'Stealing People's Mail' and 'Chemical Warfare,' for no reason at all, often at inappropriate moments, like weddings and bar mitzvahs."
"I was out of college, alone, alienated, and deeply unsatisfied with life. Flipper's creepy, monotone sludge and dark humor embodied the perfect soundtrack for my discontented early twenties. Square peg/round hole."
You'll laugh and you'll hurt with Suren all the way through this 191-page book released last year by Microcosm Publishing. You'll want to dig into your record collection and pinpoint how you obtained an LP or single, what the buying experience was like at the store and how the record made you feel when you plopped it onto the turntable and turned it up full blast. There's more to records than just the killer sounds: There's friendships and relationships, rage, joy, great times and shitty ones all connected to the vinyl. Think about those things the next time you play a record. It's a catharsis. A necessity.
There's 63 chapters here, and they're all vital. Bands like Florida stalwarts Eat, F (two of 'em) and Hated Youth along with round-the-world ragers DOA, Negative Approach, Rattus, Reason of Insanity, Toxic Reasons and Varaus are just some of the bands featured. While the records are the initial guide, they're only a brief intro into life intertwined with the tunes that give this book its edge.
"He was impossible not to like. Once he told me that he thought a particularly stoic person did not like him. I told him that was not true. After Frank died, that person called me to say how much he missed him. See, Frank, everybody liked you."
When I finished many a chapter -- of which a handful don't address records at all -- I'd lay the book down, wipe away a tear, smile and think about pivotal times in my life.
Making a mixtape for my girlfriend -- and now wife -- Cat in our formative years was always a big deal. I wanted her to like me even more through music that's important to me. We've always bought each other records, as well, not just for the music, but because we know it will make us happy and feel cared about.
Oh yeah, there was the time my friend Sean poked his cigarette into the lyric sheet of my Sloppy Seconds "Destroyed" album during a late-night listening session in our San Jose State University dorm. We laughed our asses off, and while his hair flopped and he reached for his mammoth cup of Dr. Pepper, he said, "You'll look at that burn one day and you'll remember this time."
That says it all.
P.S. Our good friend Bill Tuck gets a mention in the book along with his band Pillsbury Hardcore, so that's a bonus. And, yes, the music has changed us all for the better.
Saturday, June 18, 2016
|Voivod in Seattle. (All Cat Rose photos)
It's mind boggling that 26 years had passed since we last saw the mighty Voivod grace a stage and powerfully and precisely stick tunes into our heads like aliens pricking our brains with their devices searching for answers.
Our reply: Voivod. End of discussion.
And if available, you could offer up one of the Voivod instructional songbooks that at least one fan at the gig was clutching with a grin on his face. Eager to learn and start a dissection of his own, no doubt.
So last Saturday, the Jonquière, Québec, outfit showed us how it's done at El Corazon in Seattle alongside spazzed-out grinders King Parrot from Melbourne, AU, and Child Bite from Detroit. Truth: You could not supply a more first-rate, limb-tearing triple bill if you tried. Also joining the fray were Heiress, Sanction VIII and Eye of Nix.
Here's Cat Rose's photos:
Friday, June 17, 2016
Feel the energy. Feel the sweat. Feel the Descendents' new video for "Victim of Me" from their upcoming album, "Hypercaffium Spazzinate," slated for release July 29 on Epitaph Records.
The band's last album, "Cool to Be You," landed in 2004 on Fat Wreck Chords. It's a return to Epitaph for the band, whose album, "Everything Sucks," was released in 1996.
Tuesday, June 14, 2016
|Selene Vigil. (All Cat Rose photos)
Former 7 Year Bitch singer Selene Vigil joined forces with Matt Dresdner (bass) and Andy Kessler (guitar) from The Gits and Dana Marshall (drums) of Scrawl to belt out some songs at the Volunteer Park Pride Festival last Saturday in Seattle.
7 Year Bitch songs like "Knot," "The Midst," "The Scratch" and more were on tap alongside "It's Not On" off Vigil's solo album.
People were digging it, the band was tight and Vigil was in top form, giving her arms a workout, pointing at the crowd and locking eyes with attendees to emphasize lyrics. Intense and honest. Just the way music should be.
Also on the bill were Hell's Belles, Boyfriends and Aeon Fux.
Here's Cat Rose's Vigil et Amicis photos from the gig. (Afterward, we headed over to El Corazon to complete our Saturday with Voivod, King Parrot, Child Bite and more.)
Saturday, June 11, 2016
|Dag Nasty at Punk Rock Bowling in Las Vegas. (Ryan Asaro photo)
As the crowd gathered at the front of the stage, there was a calmness to the scenario that I wasn't expecting. There were some smiles and a few nods of the head to the person next to you. It was eerily quiet for a festival setting, especially with a super-charged band like Dag Nasty on the holding pattern on the final day of Fun Fun Fun in Austin last November.
Guitarist Brian Baker popped on stage to give his setup a quick lookover and then he snapped a photo of the setlist to post on Instagram. Nearly ready to go. But still mellow.
Andrew WK and his cohorts broke the silence by commandeering the stage, babbling on about partying and then shooting some tacos out of a contraption into the throng.
Once they exited the stage ... IT WENT OFF.
Dag Nasty opened fire on the crowd and people responded in a frenzy of raised voices, flying fists and elbows, surging forward to get as close to the action as possible. That bottled silence from earlier was smashed open. People were elated and the band matched that energy from the openers "Mango" into "I've Heard" to the closer "Never Go Back."
Original members Baker, drummer Colin Sears, bassist Roger Marbury and vocalist Shawn Brown continued that momentum with two gigs in their hometown of Washington, DC, seven shows in Europe, Punk Rock Bowling shows in Las Vegas and one tonight in Asbury Park, NJ, and there's a weeklong UK jaunt on tap in August.
To top it off, there's a solid new single featuring "Cold Heart" and "Wanting Nothing" on Dischord Records, which was recorded with Ian MacKaye and Don Zientara at Inner Ear Studios last December.
CHATTING WITH SEARS AND BAKER
At breakfast in Vegas two weeks ago, Sears discussed life in the Dag Nasty camp.
"It's great. Everybody's far more talented than we were then, but we're playing the same songs. I think the energy's just as good as it was then, 'cause we're all having fun. I don't think I ever thought we'd be doing this now," he said.
Sears noted that the new songs are a worthy addition to the band's arsenal, and when they played them in Europe -- before the single was released -- people embraced them.
"I think they flow really well. They're just as strong as the other material," Sears said.
Added Baker, also in Vegas: "I think they're better than a lot of Dag Nasty songs 'cause they're new and I like new things, so my favorite song's always the most recent."
Since the band didn't have enough songs they'd chosen out of their catalogue to play a full set, Baker thought they should pen some new tunes. And better yet, he contacted MacKaye and they decided to record them for the single.
The riffs for the new tunes surfaced during the Fun Fun Fun rehearsals, and they then spent three or four days in DC knocking them into shape in December before hitting the studio.
"We put a lot into it to turn 'em into our own. It was pretty organic," said Sears, adding that the riffs began with Baker and then Brown finished them off with lyrics. Presently, they have some other new songs they're working on, but they haven't recorded yet.
Baker said the recording process was effortless.
"(MacKaye) was like, 'We should probably try and do them on eight track' and I'm like, 'That's even better 'cause there's less to fuck up.' I love the idea of just getting it in one shot like we used to and I think it sounds great," said Baker.
Sears said it took them literally about 60 minutes to get their sound in the studio. They tracked everything, including the vocals, and did a couple of overdubs and mixing in two days.
"I'd like to say one day because that sounds more punk, but two days," Baker said.
"Simple is best," Baker added. "That's the thing, the whole excitement for me is being in a hardcore band and doing things (that way). I'm incredibly nostalgic for what I remember as everything being a great time, which of course back then was not true. But now I'm old, so I think, 'Oh it was just this fantastic (thing), everything was so cool. It's so effortless.' So we're trying to just do all the good stuff."
|From left, Brown, Baker, Marbury and Sears. (Courtesy of Dag Nasty's Facebook page)
For Baker, playing in Dag Nasty has him digging back into his memory bank to when they launched the band in 1985.
"It's cool, it's like time travel. I am 19 years old. And it's great because we just did our first little tour together, and it was actually a rolling group house and everyone's little idiosyncrasies are the same and it's just really amazing," he said.
Sears thinks back, as well, but even further to his youth. He's known Marbury since they were 10 years old, Baker entered the picture about five or six years later and he met Brown a year or two after that.
"It's people you've known two thirds of your life, which makes it cool," Sears said. "It makes everything pretty easy going. We've always run it more as a democracy. If somebody doesn't like something or does like something, everybody's really flexible. I've been in a lot of bands, so I can tell you this is just pretty easy. We're just focused on playing the songs as well as we can."
The new songs fit within the old ones on the setlist, but are fresh and not a rehash from 30 years ago, Sears added.
Speaking of the Dag Nasty classics, diehard European fans sang along and were thrilled that the band finally made it their homelands of Austria, Belgium, Germany, Italy and Slovenia in April. At the final gig at the Groezrock Fest in Meerhout, Belgium, Sears said the energy was manic just like at Fun Fun Fun. The band was dialed in to their tunes, as well, making for a stellar set.
While on that trek, the band played the legendary SO36 club in Berlin with Youth of Today and afterward, Brown, Marbury and Sears strolled across to the other side of Oranienstraße to partake in a drink at the Franken Bar (another cool punk spot that Cat and I hung out at during our trip three years ago). In Vienna, Baker and Sears visited a few art museums.
|Photos from Dag Nasty, Red Hare and Black Theory gigs. (Andy and Cat Rose photos)
Along with all the Dag Nasty songs that the guys dig on playing together, they enjoy each other's company on and off stage.
"The friendship side is probably more important than anything else. We're not doing it for money or fame or something. We just like doing it," Sears said.
Baker said the band was born out of friendships and wanting something to do and have a good time. He added that hardcore acts from back in the day never thought of their music being monetized or having life beyond the moment.
"Kind of doing this now is the same thing, 'cause there's no expectation and everybody's got real jobs and kids and stuff. If we have some time, we can go somewhere and hang out for a week -- let's just go do it and play some music. It's really for the music -- it's fun. It's nice to have fun playing music. I recommend it to everybody," Baker said.
And the lyrics from those old albums still ring true, said Sears, who said the Dags are all passionate about their songs -- old and new.
"At this point in our lives, we've all been through personal challenges and issues, so in some ways the lyrics are probably are more meaningful now," said Sears, noting that the new lyrics are spot-on, as well. "I think the overall vibe, and I think Shawn would say, it's sort of a positive spin on the world and how we see the world. It fits pretty well with the personalities of everybody in the band."
For Baker, he's got another little band that he spends a ton of time with and gets a rush out of giving his guitars a workout in both Bad Religion and Dag Nasty.
"I have been playing in Bad Religion for 23 years and we play a lot. It's basically the same thing except for I don't know the Dag Nasty songs as well. So it's more of a challenge, because I'm actually going like, 'What the fuck's next?'" he said. "The Bad Religion thing is totally fun, I get incredible joy out of it, and the Dag Nasty thing is very similar. I'm having a good time getting the drug that I am looking for."
|Baker at Fun Fun Fun. (Andy photo)
Wanting it all
Searching the grey
Wearing scars of
Making use of what's left
-- from "Wanting Nothing"
Got a burning in my head
That fuels this endeavor
Confusion melts away fast
Almost convinced me
To close my eyes
-- from "Cold Heart"