As a musician, sometimes you get an offer that you just can’t refuse. Sometimes these offers come in the form of a band much larger than yours asking you to play a show with them at a big fancy venue; sometimes it’s an opportunity to go play in a cool location with expenses paid; and sometimes a promoter offers you all the straightedge bands’ drink tickets, plus an appropriate cut from the door.
While in this case – as in nearly all “too good to be true” scenarios – the promises wound up being false, unlike most “too good to be true” scenarios (where not only do you not get what’s promised, but everything else sucks the whole time too) this show turned out to be awesome.
This is my retelling of 9/18/11: The Straightedge vs. Scumbags Battle Royale! Are you ready for this?
The Quarry House Tavern has been known around the D.C. metro area for a long time. It’s known as a great venue where you can pretty much show up any Sunday afternoon and get some good rock and roll, and as a musician you know that when you play there you will get paid when you’re done, they will feed you while you are there, and more often than not (unless something big and crazy happened the day before), a good crowd will generally materialize, unless you are opening the show, which was the case today for D.C.’s own Police & Thieves.
If you are a regular reader of DayAfterDayDC then you may remember a review I did of this band not long ago, but honestly that is just a lucky coincidence. I’m not some kind of stalker or something.
I felt bad for this band of awesome dudes (who play better music than most other bands out there right now) having to play to maybe 20-25 kids, but in true punk style they didn’t seem to remotely give a shit.
They rocked out for longer than they did the last time I saw them (probably because it was only like 150 degrees in the Quarry House instead of surface of the sun-style hot like it was at the Corpse Fortress of Positivity) and played the handful of songs I knew well enough from seeing them before and hearing them with friends, but even when I didn’t know what was going on or what song they were doing I could tell that they were tight, and the one clear benefit of the QH over a lot of the other local venues is that you could really hear Carlos rocking the mic.
He is such a talented frontman that I sometimes find myself focusing on him exclusively and then realizing “Oh shit, I’m missing out on the rest of the band,” which is a shame. A lot of people who read this site would do well to get a vocalist like him, because even though the rest of your band sucks, maybe people wouldn’t notice as much. That’s not what’s going on with P&T though, because each member brings a degree of professionalism, talent and chaos to the mix. By the time they were getting ready to wrap up their set I was happy to see that the stragglers had started to make their way in and the room was starting to fill up just in time for some real deal South of the Border SXE hardcore.
Remission, from Chile, brought their brand of rock to the Quarry House. I was into them quite a bit, although I was utterly unfamiliar with their music before the show. Despite the fact that I am a dyed-in-the-wool scumbag of the highest order, I have actually found that many of my favorite hardcore bands have always been melodic straightedge bands.
Everything I saw about this band before hearing them kept telling me how much like Verbal Assault they sounded like and I disagree overall. I think they sound a lot more polished than that, but not in the bad way that punk rockers and hardcore kids think when they hear “polished.”
Remission just sounds like they are more methodical in their manhandling of hardcore. I had a very specific sound in mind and I thought they brought something considerably more fresh than V.A., and if I had known that I was going to be tasked with reviewing this show beforehand I would have studied them and their performance way harder, but I was working the merchandise table during their set and enjoyed them, but didn’t pay them the attention they deserved. Next time I’m kicking it in Chile I will make sure to see them and report again.
So after two rounds of SXE bands it was time to get some scumbags up in the mix, and Copstabber came onstage like they wanted to prove to the straightedge kids that they are making a big mistake.
This band has been together for more than three years now and has really come into its own. The set they played was a really good mix of old and new material and I thought that they were far and away the best band of the night (and maybe of the millennium), which is really saying something.
By the time they went on and started their set the crowd had definitely filled up and was a nice mix of the visibly drunk, those on amphetamines and straight-edge kids. I honestly expected to see more of the SXE kids leave and go on a nature hike or whatever they do when the band that’s playing is singing about how much they like cocaine, but I was wrong. Not only did Copstabber manage to keep everyone interested, they somehow didn’t seem to alienate the members of the crowd who have different lifestyle choices from them – what probably helped is the fact that the clock was really ticking on their set so the band never let Dave have more than a couple of seconds to talk to the crowd. After the first couple of songs the crowd seemed to really start feeding off of the band and before long people were throwing themselves around and Dave was showering everyone with beer. It was a hot, sweaty, beer-soaked mess when Copstabber came offstage. The band left the crowd wanting more, but what it got instead was Mindset.
Mindset was billed as Baltimore’s third-hardest band and I was determined to see that for myself, because there is some real tough competition for an accolade like that, and while I don’t necessarily agree with that assessment, they did definitely bring a hard, in-your-face screaming hell of a performance. This band is reminiscent of a lot of the good youth crew, varsity-font-type hardcore bands that I love. They sound like a more melodic Uniform Choice or like Shutdown, but in a good way.
The singer is all over the place and is a lot of fun to watch; another thing I noticed was the way the crowd was participating for Mindset versus the other bands.
For the other bands the crowd stood out in front of the band and moshed occasionally. For Mindset the crowd sort of formed around them with occasional moshing. It made the room feel much smaller and more intimate. It also made it a lot easier to get kicked in the face, which this man has had enough of.
I moved to the back of the crowd and enjoyed hearing this very talented band rip through a really fun set and watching the top of the singers’ head bounce up every once in a while until they were done. I even bought a T-shirt and felt bad walking towards the grocery store wearing it and smoking a cigarette. The band is bona fide, and I’d say most likely among the top five or six hardest bands based in Baltimore right now.
I call this Battle Royale a draw. I look forward to a rematch.
– Dave Homeowner