Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Rough Era

Ask anyone who attends Hardcore shows regularly: There aren't that many active bands taking chances with the music. It's easy, and I say so from personal experience, to leave a show after seeing four or five bands and only have one hold your attention. This can be applied to the greater scheme of the current scene as far as I'm concerned. Don't get me wrong, there are literally hundreds of solid bands with sincere members currently breaking their backs to tour across the US as well as the rest of the world. But as far as musical experimentation is concered, the well is pretty dry.

One band that I have kept my eyes and ears on over the past couple of years is Lion Of Judah. I checked out their demo after the initial hype on HYE, and have been hooked ever since. I heard elements of bands I loved that many modern Hardcore bands hadn't looked to: Burn, Fugazi, later-era Bad Brains, etc. That demo and subsequent 7" on Lockin' Out entitled "Soul Power" were good, but I could tell that some things needed polishing and looked forward to another release.

Last week, after finally hooking the band up with a show in Alabama, I got my hands on that next release. The polishing I had hoped for took place, and it was evident in the band's performance and also on the record I brought home. I've been listening to it constantly since and I believe it will easily slip into my top 10 of '06. Check the cover art:

I love that the cover looks NOTHING like your average HC release. The best description of it I have heard compared it to the cover of a Love album.

Hardcore needs more bands like LOJ. Along with their wide range of influences, they are unafraid to tackle complex issues in their lyrics including, but not limited to: the current state of the World, Religion, Philosophy, Immigration policies, body image conflicts, and much more. There is also the issue of experimentation with album art and merch setting them apart from the flock.

I feel like I could rant for hours about this band, but enough of that. Go pick up the record at Youngblood (who also put out a number of other good records) and you'll (hopefully) see what I'm talking about.

Wednesday, September 06, 2006

choices made

There have already been hundreds of debates on various websites and message boards about the motives behind the recent string of Gorilla Biscuits shows. I, for one, got tired of reading them very quickly. I decided that this was different than all those other reunions. This was Gorilla Biscuits. This was a band who recorded songs that had a major impact on my outlook on life and my involvement in the Hardcore scene; songs that I sing along to in my truck on a very regular basis that can lift me out of the worst moods. I wasn’t going to let speculation ruin anything for me: If anyone was going to ruin anything, it would be the band.

I went to see the band play in Atlanta August 29th. The room was insanely hot and packed. Several other bands played, and the crowd reacted well, but we all knew we needed to save our energy. I started getting really excited when I saw the drum kit bearing the GB logo being loaded onto the stage. Finally, the background music was turned off, the band took the stage, and the trumpet intro to New Direction blared over the P.A. Walter hit that classic first chord and the stage dives and finger points began, and didn’t end until they stopped playing over an hour later. I was up front sweating more than I have in my short lifetime for the majority of the set, singing every word. I have never seen a reunited, “legendary” band play with that much passion and energy. Hell, even bands from their era that have stayed together and are still playing regularly (that I’ve witnessed live, at least) couldn’t even come close to touching this kind of intensity. Many bands have tried to rehash their glory days and cash in on their legacy. After seeing that set, you will never be able to convince me that Gorilla Biscuits were doing either of those things. They were doing what a Hardcore band should do: playing the songs they wrote fast and loud, getting their message out there, and having the time of their lives doing it. I know I had the time of mine witnessing it. Thanks to Hunter and Matt at Kill The Peace for making the show happen.

Tuesday, May 30, 2006

time slips away

I am sad to say that I missed the final Champion show. When I first heard that they were breaking up, I had every intention of getting to Seattle in any way possible. Like alot of plans I make, that one did not pan out. The pressures of finals as well as working a go-nowhere job where I get paid next to nothing are the culprits here. Earlier today, the good folks at Bridge Nine Records put up some leftover merch for purchase, including the poster pictured above and a final show pressing of their excellent Promises Kept LP, both of which I picked up. After I placed my order, I put on PK and listened to it a couple of times through.

After letting it soak in for a few minutes, I realized that while I didn't see the band's last show and missed out on what would have likely been an incredible trip, I was still one lucky hardcore kid. I got to set up three shows for them at Cave Nine, and attend one show in Nashville the night after the first time they played Birmingham. The shows were great experiences, enhanced only by meeting and getting to know the members of Champion. In a conversation with Aram after one Cave Nine show (I can't remember which), I remember telling him how glad I was that there were at least a handful of truly (remove all cliches from the following words) sincere and positive Straight Edge bands currently playing and touring. He just smiled and said "I promise you that we will always be a positive Straight Edge band." He wasn't lying. They didn't break up because someone sold out. They didn't break up because they were tired of hardcore or burnt out on playing. They did the respectable thing and ended it before it stopped being relevant and fun, two things that Hardcore should always be. Even though they will likely never read this, I wish them all the best in their future endeavors, in and outside of music. They were one of the few bands that lived by the words they wrote and sang and the ethics of the scene they were involved with, and they will be missed dearly.