By Sarah Bennett
By Adam Lovinus
By Jena Ardell
By Nate Jackson
By Gustavo Arellano
By Nick Keppler
By Nate Jackson
By Alex Distefano
Photo by James BunoanRevo/Palisade/Black Tie Optional
Dipiazza's, Long Beach
Sunday, Jan. 4
What better way to kill our seasonal optimism than to get tanked on two-buck Chuck, head over to DiPiazza's and sit among the Bukowski fantacists while watching LSU spank Oklahoma on the big screen TV as a slew of hapless under-25 bands do their best to distract us? Ah, but the joke was on us, since Black Tie Optional actually turned out to be not half bad. They're a hopeful indicator (and boy, do we hope) that younger, rising bands are ditching the tired sing-through-your-nose emo trend for more trad-oriented, less-whiny rock & roll, despite the opposing evidence of two too many trucker hats in the small crowd and the lead singer's Get Up Kids tee. These four guys seemed to know proper song construction, with decent melodies and unobnoxious guitar riffage aplenty, and no ugly theatrics, either, save for a simple leap off the drum riser. A fine band—unless that's the alcohol talking and we imagined the whole thing.
But then we slipped from the good into the mediocre with Palisade, four boys who sported neckties (because their music is "dirty," so they look "clean," y'see; tragically, the dated stage clichés will probably survive into 2004). On almost any other night, Palisade would have left us wanting to pop our eardrums with a knitting needle, as they were an explicit doppelganger of almost every faceless Warped Tour band, but this evening they were actually semi-tolerable. (Our friend Chuck had anesthetized us, fortunately; ahhh, the pleasures of dirt-cheap vino!) But they nearly breached our pain threshold twice—once when they made everyone sing "Happy Birthday" to a buddy of theirs like a common lounge act, and again when they started using words like gnarly. And when they pushed their merch from the stage, informing us of their fresh-minted supply of baby doll tees and hoodie sweatshirts for sale, all we could think was how it was too bad they didn't have very much talent to offer, too. And then we could feel ourselves sobering.
And from the mediocre, we slid into the abysmal Revo, the crowd having significantly petered off by this time (hey, it was a school night). So it was announced from the stage that there would be NO MOSHING during Revo's set, which amused the fuck out of us, since there weren't enough people in the room to mosh anyway. ("But you can still have a good time!" pleaded the lead singer.) Revo confessed that it was going to be odd playing in front of a nonmoshing throng (which we took to mean "We happily cater to the lowest common denominator!"), and with their all-black outfits, we guessed we were in for an endless feast of pedestrian swill. Our instincts were dead on. They pummeled our senses with what they probably consider hardcore, but it was really just a barrage of 12th-rate recycled Slayer riffs and themes (here's a song title: "Nosebleed"). Totally safe, totally ordinary, their brand of hardcore was like some kind of candy bar—dark on the outside, soft on the inside. Dull backbeats rarely rose above stock speed-polka and body-flailing from their singer so formulaic that it was positively chuckle-worthy—and we would've been guffawing if we hadn't instead busied ourselves trying to fend off the sleepy stupor they were putting us in.
We're amazed. Here it is the start of a new year, and people are still starting bands because they want to copy what everyone else is doing, while having zero ambition to even attempt something original. Yeah, I'm talking to you. You—not just greedy record companies and illegal downloading—you're helping to kill music. So we thought Revo were quite evil enough, and then, like Palisade, they go off and drop someone's birthday announcement, too! We almost ran screaming out into the street, but not till some goon jumped onstage with them to scream in tandem with their singer, for no particular reason. Was it art, or parody? We doubt Revo would ever get so deep, so we have to judge it as one of the funnier moments so far of the young new year. Too bad nobody else was laughing.
But maybe it'll be a good year after all . . .