Quite possibly the only positive aspect of the current political turmoil, is the impact and influence it has on music. When it comes to one of the most pertinent UK punk bands, the Subhumans have been rallying against war, and fascism since 1980. The band has strong roots in anarchism, pacifism and a staunch reputation for standing up to for the middle class and value like justice, anti-racism, collectivism, and equality.
Nearly three decades later, the band’s message and songs about a world ravaged by war, a technologically based dictatorship, and a government that enslaves the working class is even more pertinent. On Wednesday night at the Observatory in Santa Ana, the band performed to a nearly sold out crowd. Though the band’s message is political in nature, and though lead singer Dick Lucas took short breaks to condemn the recent bombings in Syria, as well as the current administrations scapegoating of immigrants, the music mostly spoke for itself.
These guys are among the old school first wave of anarchy punks, but drummer Trotsky, guitarist Bruce Treasure, bassist Phil Bryant and singer Lucas are still on fire. With the sped up, rustic hardcore punk sound, fans of oi, and even d-beat and thrash would all devour these short songs that are passionate bursts of energy.
Several hundred fans both from the old school and new were all raising their fists and singing along to classic Subhumans tracks like “Apathy,” “Society” “Big City,” “Businessmen,” and more!
The fans in the pit were slam dancing from the first song, and the pit was ravenous as the fury aggression and urgency of the music was fuel for the human hurricane of swinging bodies. Crowd surfers were diving in one after the other, as tall beer cans, fists and whole bodies circled at breakneck speed in front of the band. The mosh pit was a mix of shirtless bros, bald heads, bearded dudes, crusty punks, longhairs, handful of female punks, and that one jerk who wore a leather jacket spiked with metal studs. The songs had the slam dancers moving the entire set long in a rapid motion that never gave up and even lasted between songs.
Singer Dick Lucas might look like he’s been doing this for three decades, but the spirit and high energy stage pressence and rabid execution of vocals brings the band’s performance to a level that most younger bands could only hope for. Combined with the musical talent in the group, the Subhumans are still relevant for the music and the message it conveys.
All in all, after just under an hour the band took an exit as the venue repeatedly shouted “One more song!” Two minutes later, the band reappeared and performed the encore, consisting of “Religious Wars” and the set closer, “No.” The end of the night consisted of fans slowly piling out of the venue and into the night, some still mumbling and asking why the Subhumans didn’t play longer, another sign that on stage, the Subhmans are still way above average.