Two Fridays ago, at St. Stephen’s church in the Columbia Heights neighborhood of Washington, D.C., the venerable local grindcore/ powerviolence act Magrudergrind headlined a show with power-thrash underground legends Asshole Parade.
The date celebrated the end of a summer-long North American tour mutually undertaken by the DC straight-edge fastcore/power-violence acts Coke Bust and Sick Fix.
The touring bands Positive Noise and Crucial Cause opened the show. The Crucial Cause fellows were very amiable and come from the San Francisco area. One of their members, Marcus, was pretty enthusiastic upon hearing that Ludicra and Hammers of Misfortune were touring through the area at the same time (I saw Ludicra the night before). I showed up a little late, and missed most of the Michigan band Positive Noise’s set, but every single band played to a good-sized (albeit constantly rotating/changing) crowd of all ages.
Crucial Cause plays very solid straightforward thrashy hardcore with some real cool meaty riffs. Their lyrics are some old-school metal crossover shouting, spewing straight-forward specific put-downs full of affecting spite.
I also caught an intentionally charming sense of humor in some of their songs, which I thought was pretty cool — a slightly sarcastic attitude that’s a little punk’d out. The songs themselves were brief (by metal, not hardcore/punk standards — never more than 3 minutes) but had some cool buildups to exciting, epic moments, and very nice, layered thrash riffs, occasional leads and solos to change things up. Plus, everything was clear in the mix: a good band.
This was one of the better Sick Fix sets I’ve seen. This is Pat Vogel‘s (Crispus Attucks, Tradition Dies Here)’s current straight-edge power-violence project with Michelle, Jeremy (also of No Minion and Coke Bust) and Chris Moore (a million bands). Sick Fix has a crew of seasoned local musicians who have developed a sound they’ve been honing over the past few years. The set opened with a swaggering instrumental preview — nothing too crazy, just a catchy, burly preview of what was in store, building up to Michelle’s characteristically venomous vox.
I must say, that Sick Fixx is one of the more solid fast-core/violence acts around. Pat has a pretty crucial setup these days, which should surprise no one who has casually talked about equipment with him before. The breakdown sections of the songs now carry a psychedelic atmosphere, with tasteful delay and flanger behind the gritty, deep, muscular guitar tone (like Ilsa, Sick Fix tunes their strings pretty fucking low!). Add some raw, dirty bass, some of the finest blast-beats on the east coast, truly enraged vocals and melancholy feminist-edge stage banter, and you have one contending crew.
Next up was Coke Bust, another fast-core/violence project — this one fronted by local show promoter Nicktape. Nicktape is a one-man propaganda machine — dude was sending out mass texts about DC shows even while out on tour on the west coast. Not unlike Sick Fixx, Coke Bust’s name is an explicit reference to their straight-edge, no-drug policy. Their message is a poignant one for many, for straight-edge punk and hardcore music is a tradition infamously started here in DC in the 1980s, by none other than pre-Fugazi Ian Mackaye and Minor Threat. Chris and Jeremy from Sick Fixx reprise their presences in Coke Bust — though here Jeremy swings the guitar axe and passes off the bass to young Jubert.
Coke Bust is a sister band to Sick Fixx for other reasons besides a shared roster. Instead of vocalizing personally therapeutic or feminist messages/catharses as Sick Fixx is wont to do, Coke Bust pitches adjacent impressions of the hardcore scene. Nick and the guys relay their message and intent of fraternity within the hardcore genre (particularly the straight-edge movement) and local DIY ethics.
Co-headlining with Magrudergrind was the notable Florida band Asshole Parade. These cats are reputable within the DIY HC scene for playing high-quality angst-ridden, punked-out, hardcore-influenced thrash. They kept on touring after this show back home down the east coast, and then headed to Europe. They ply their dirty thrash riffage over there now as we speak.
They played true to form and did not disappoint: spiteful, heavy, short songs that were straight to the point.
Once upon a time, Magrudergrind played something like hundreds of shows a year. Back then, Avi (vocals) and Chris (drums again!) were just fresh, young, acne-scarred whipper-snappers pitching brutality between high-school homework assignments. There have been a couple of changes in guitarists since then, but the current Magrudergrind lineup (featuring RJ on guitar for the past several years) has established itself on moderately lucrative tour and festival dates around the world (though the guys aren’t quite living it up like Ranier Wolfcastle just yet (although you never know)). At the beginning of this summer, the band released their newest LP on vinyl and CD, recorded with Kurt Ballou (of Converge fame), and toured the US west coast.
As a friend and fan of Magrudergrind, I knew what to expect at a show and was not disappointed. Though I wouldn’t call this one of their most necessary sets to see, Avi made sure to include enough shout-outs and vague threats to keep the crowd in the mix. Chris must’ve been totally worn out by this set (his third in a row!) and I could see the 2+ months of touring he did this summer took their toll on the man’s biceps (they look gross). The crowd had actually mellowed a bit by this point, but some good mosh was saved for MG (not that I would know — I’m an old curmudgeon). Anyway, it’s cool to see that Magrudergrind are establishing themselves as a household name on the international DIY circuit.
Lots of people from the scene showed up at one point or another, I recorded the show with a little help from my friends, and all-in-all it was a massive success — no doubt due to Zizzack’s war-horse promotional tactics which began gearing up for the gig two months in advance. I was really impressed that they were able to cram six sets into a 4 hour slot. It was a pretty cool night until I found the ticket on my car. (CRM)
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