Refused Were Fucking Alive in Santa Ana

The only time you'll see Refused standing still on a stage.
The only time you'll see Refused standing still on a stage.
David Le

Refused The Observatory 5/25/15

If you think there's no room for business-casual attire and dancing in hardcore music, Dennis Lyxzen of Refused would probably like to have a word with you.

The band's blazer-clad lead singer danced around the stage for much of their hour-long set at the Observatory on Monday night, often ditching the microphone during the hardcore band's extended bridges and breakdowns to be able to move more freely.

His scissor kicks, moonwalks, shimmies, and general rhythmic chaos were greeted with cheers and screams of glee by a venue packed with a crowd spanning at least three decades in age.

See also: The Resurrection of Refused is Good News for the Revolution!

From the old punks that likely saw the Swedish band tour for their last album, the legendary The Shape of Punk to Come, in 1998 to the teenagers who weren't even old enough to see the overtly political hardcore band during their last tour in 2012, everyone knew there was a good chance they'd get to see one of the best high-energy hard rock shows of 2015, and Refused certainly delivered.

While the band's new album, Freedom, is due out next month, they only played the three songs that had been previously shown in live performances (they opened the set with "Elektra," and also played "Francafrique" and "Dawkins Christ"). The crowd certainly didn't seem to mind over half of their performance coming from The Shape of Punk to Come, as perhaps the only time during the entire set when the mosh pit wasn't in a dangerously full swing was during "Francafrique."

The heavy smoke and low flickering lights gave the entire concert a very post-apocalyptic music video kind of vibe, as the band crushed their early-set performances of classics like "The Shape of Punk to Come," "The Refused Party Program" and "Rather Be Dead." Not only did Refused seem energized and ecstatic to be playing the show, but they made it clear that they wanted to be one with the fans, as Lyxzen threw himself into the crowd on multiple occasions and high-fived fans getting dragged away by security guards after crowd-surfing to the front.

Before the band could break into "Coup D'Etat," an angry fan threw a punch at a security guard after getting into a scuffle with another fan. While Lyxzen initially called out the security guards for grabbing the fan, members of the audience pointed out that it was the fan's fault. At that point, Lyxzen apologized to security and told them to "throw the asshole out" before making a joke about punks being against security and telling a story about when he accidentally rear-ended a car because he was too busy cursing at the police car next to him.

Lyxzen's only other monologue of the night came before "Refused are Fucking Dead," at which time he shared his gratitude for everyone coming out to see what used to be "a little hardcore band from Sweden" and made fun of himself for writing the band's famously angry breakup manifesto in 1998.

 

Lyxzen used all parts of the stage, including the barriers on each side.
Lyxzen used all parts of the stage, including the barriers on each side.
David Le

Though the band missed out on playing the amazing spoken word intro to "Worms of the Senses," they made up for it by doing a fake radio introduction to "Liberation Frequency" which amped up the crowd to a near-deafening level when the first few chords came on over the "radio" before the channel was changed. The song also featured Lyxzen holding out the microphone for the crowd to sing the chorus, while he provided the dance moves.

As Lyxzen left the stage before the "encore" (every other band member remained on the stage, and the lights remained on for the most part), everyone in the audience knew that the moment casual Refused fans had been waiting for was about to go down.

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After guitarist Kristofer Steen played through a few random chord progressions, the lights dimmed and the buzzing of the band's amps went silent.

Seconds later, Steen began playing the intro the the band's biggest hit, "New Noise," and the crowd went completely apeshit. When Lyxzen returned to the stage and grabbed the mic, the audience prepared to dive headfirst into the iconic anthem.

As the introductory line of the song approached, Lyxzen grabbed the mic, walked to the very front of the stage, and raised his hands in the air. Rather than screaming the line into the microphone himself, he simply smiled and held out his arms for everyone to yell it for him.

"Can I scream?!" the entire crowd responded.

For the next few minutes, Lyxzen was in complete control of the entire black-clad audience, letting them sing the second half of every "call and response" line, as well as what most people would consider to be the only acceptable high-pitched "Woo!" in any punk/hardcore song ever.

Following the quiet bridge of 'New Noise' (Lyxzen even crouched down and gave the audience a signal to lower their volume), the crowd proved they could be just as loud as the one used on the studio recording, going absolutely wild for the remainder of the song before only slightly turning down their intensity for the finale of "Worms of the Senses."

The performance was certainly everything you can ask for from a hardcore show, including multiple stage dives, barrier climbs, mic throws, and a handstand from Lyxzen, and you'd be hard-pressed to find anyone saying the show was less than amazing on their way out.

Despite near-constant calling out of "Refused are fucking dead!" from fans, it's clear (as Lyxzen pointed out about two-thirds of the way through the set) that Refused are still very much fucking alive.

Setlist Elektra The Shape of Punk to Come The Refused Party Program Rather Be Dead Summerholidays vs. Punkroutine Francafrique The Deadly Rhythm Dawkins Christ Coup D'Etat Hook, Line and Sinker Refused are Fucking Dead Liberation Frequency Tannhauser New Noise Worms of the Senses

See also 10 Punk Albums to Listen to Before You Die 10 Goriest Album Covers 10 Most Satanic Metal Bands

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