Brutal Is Dead

Some Hardcore Band That Was Maybe Pg. 99
Koo's Art Caf
Thurs., June 28

The '90s sucked. Or at least the parts we remember, like when underground music went from hit to shit in about two years flat. You remember 1995: everyone was desperately fawning over Green Day and the Offspring for proving that punk wasn't (commercially) dead after all, and everyone who wasn't desperately fawning was tossing their Nirvana guitar tablature in the back alley dumpster and speeding up their riffs into one great, big blur of buzz saw nothing. It sucked. There is nothing inherently wrong with pop punk, yet much like communism, socialism and democracy in Florida, it works much better in theory than in real life.

So pop quiz, poseur: What happens when your band is a rip-off of a flavor-of-the-weekend band, themselves a rip-off of some late-'90s retro-throwback, themselves a rip-off of a snarly cassette copy of the real thing? Duh! It sucks. When the deep end of the creative gene pool bottoms out at Blink-182, it's really fucking easy to snap your neck when you dive right in. Not that that stopped anyone: if you want a cheap laugh, prowl the used-CD bins for some punk compilations from back then (paid for by rich parents, more often than not), and scan through 30 songs that all sound exactly the goddamn same. It nearly killed us.

But we're all over that, now. Kids are getting a clue, broadening their tastes, tuning into themselves and tuning out the deafening static of a Youth-Marketing Culture revving into brain-puddling overdrive, and finding a voice all their own muffled under all the noise. Oh, wait—no, they're not! They're still ripping off rip-offs of rip-offs of rip-offs, but they've just lowered their sights a bit under the mainstream. Now it's hardcore, and fuck, we'll just lay it out here: hardcore fucking sucks now.

Okay, so look, dude: you know there are awesome hardcore bands (like What Happens Next? or long-gone Charles Bronson or something), just like there are awesome polka bands, klezmer bands, or even (choking down vomit here) ska bands. It's not a genre issue. Just because you decide to play angry, throaty, blast-beat discord-core doesn't mean you are a bad person and doomed (well, it could actually mean both of those things, but in a good way) because it's all in the execution. But if we could execute bands, we would because there's nothing worse than criminal boringness.

So who's the suspect this time? We're not sure. We thought we were seeing Pg. 99. That's what the flier said. But then we read up on this band, described by possible dipshits on the Internet as “a seriously heavy and rocking band,” “heavy, fast and harmfully [sic] fierce,” “drumming you and screaming you into the corner,” and “incredible, out-of-confuckentrol, emmotional [sic] mindfuck of a band.”

And we didn't see that band. If it was that band, people would have been, like, bleeding and puking and tearing out their hair and putting heads through windows and getting guitars tangled in the light rack and stuff, right? But instead, people just stood there while some clean-cut-looking guys concentrated blandly on playing some predictable, boring songs and shrieking predictably and boringly (to borrow syntax from some of those rabid fans), just like about every other hardcore show we go to. If this is a mindfuck, we'd hate to get these boys in the real, live sack.

Sure, they could play, whoever they were. They can growl and rage and all that stuff they're supposed to do. But “surprise”? Um, sorry. Peeping through the window, we could call the songs before they had even started. “First, they're going to hit a chord, then they'll let it ring, then they'll go into a guitar riff and kick in the drums, and then the screaming starts.” And start it did. So we bailed way early (and you know what? It probably got awesome as soon as we left, with our luck, so, hey, sorry if you guys are a slow burn!). We've been seeing too many bands like this—bands who think it's okay to smash their Slayer and Infest records together, slap on some tight black T-shirts, and get to being brutal—and if we hear one more band described as “metal-tinged,” we're gonna take out our Venom records and burn 'em at the stake. At this point, there is no “brutal.” There's just boring. And it worries us. We can't take another 1995 again. But at least all the hardcore bands play fast, so it'll probably be over quicker this time.

Oh yeah, and if it was Pg. 99: next time, do the blood up front. We woulda liked to see that.

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