Direct Control, Night Fever, Citizens Patrol, Government Flu @ Occii, 10/1/11

I got to this show early, unlike my usual style, because I wanted to see all the bands. Another reason I was early is because this show happened to be in Amsterdam, on one of the four days I was in town. I tended to get lost in this city because every street has an incredibly long name (for example, I stayed on a street called Oudezijds Voorburgwal and the show was on a street called Amstelveenseweg) and all of the streets curve and constantly change names.

I didn’t want to deal with the tram system, and I knew this show was a little ways out of the center of the city where I was staying, so I rented a bike. Don’t get so excited, American bikepunks. Despite a vastly higher percentage of cyclists among the general population, I did not see any bikepunks during my four days there.

When respectable middle-aged and old people ride bikes, it isn’t so cool. The other thing is that these bikes SUCK.

Everyone rides one-speed cruiser style bikes that look like they haven’t changed since the 1950s. The bike I rented had cruiser handlebars which made it REALLY hard to steer. Also, there is so much traffic from scooters and other cyclists, even on the part of the street that is bikes-only, that cycling in Amsterdam isn’t quite as ideal as many bike enthusiasts would like you to believe.

This show was at a place called Occii, which apparently used to be a squat, but now looks like any other club. However, I missed it the first time I rode past because the exterior looks like the front of a church. Once inside it kind of reminded me of the Warehouse Next Door, if the bar was on the opposite side and the place was about twice as wide. The place really filled up after the first band or so – so much that I had trouble moving around, which is always annoying. There were probably at least 75 people there, maybe 100.

The first band was Government Flu, which I gathered because I had already seen 3 of the 4 bands playing tonight and I did not recognize any of the members. They played pretty well, when they played fast it sounded very good but when they played mid-tempo songs it got a little boring, because they didn’t really grab me with any hooks. I was trying to think of a band that they sounded like when they played an Antidote cover, I think it was “Something Must Be Done” if I’m remembering correctly, and I realized that Antidote would be an apt comparison.

Citizens Patrol played next. This was their hometown show after doing a week-long tour with Direct Control. I had seen them once before in June 2008 at the Bobby Fisher Memorial Building in DC. They played fast and tight like they did then, and I think they were better than last time. I really liked them live and had the urge to buy their new LP, but realized I have two of their 7 inches that I never listen to, so I didn’t think it would be a good investment.

Still, Citizens Patrol is one of the better bands doing the fast retro-’80s thing. Their riffs tend to be more original than those of a lot of other bands, which for me is the most important element in this genre.

Night Fever was on third. They are from Denmark and the guitar player from Citizens Patrol told me they are getting sort of “big” in Europe. It was interesting to see the same band on a stage thousands of miles away from where I saw them last, which was at the Corpse Fortress in July. I thought they were better than before, but my earlier criticism still applies (that the songs all sound sort of the same and it sounds like their songs just hang on the same chord the whole time). I realized that I thought all of the bands today were better than when I saw them before, probably because this was the first time I had seen three of these bands playing through a proper sound system.

I also said before that NF is influenced by ’80s hair metal. I definitely still think that due to the fact that the singer does a lot of high-pitched screams. The crowd definitely got going during Night Fever more than before, probably even a little more than during Direct Control.

This is also when there started to be more stage-diving. NickTape was correct in his observation that Euros tend to stand on stage for a while, looking for a suitable place to jump, and go at it half-heartedly. Americans tend to run up and jump wherever, taking the risk of not being caught. Although the Euro approach makes more sense for the personal preference of not injuring oneself, it tends to clog up the stage with people for too long. The Night Fever singer made a “jerking-off” motion at somebody who was standing on stage for too long. I thought it was somewhat appropriate.

Direct Control was the last band. They are from Richmond, but don’t play DC very frequently. The last time I saw them was at Hole In The Sky in February. Direct Control is pretty much the best of the fast retro-’80s bands. They’re the band everyone wants to be. Their 2004 masterpiece “You’re Controlled” made many lists of the top records of the last decade.

It was clear that most people in the audience who were singing along knew the songs off this record. They played well. It was my second time seeing them with current bass player Ryan from Municipal Waste, who plays a bit noodlier than previous bassist Eric, who played with the band for the majority of its existence.

They played an 18-song set, and near the end singer/guitarist Brandon started to look pissed because they had been playing for so long, even though it was still probably only between a 25 and 30 minute set. He said it was the longest they’ve ever played. It was the last show of their tour, and he said probably their last show ever in Europe.

It was remarkable how similar hardcore shows are, no matter where you go. Everybody in the audience and the bands were wearing shirts of American bands. Aside from everybody speaking Dutch it wasn’t that different from a show in the US.

Overall, it was a very good show that ended by midnight (which was good) at a cool venue. I would go there again if I’m ever back in Amsterdam.

Was Pat Vogel there? Surprisingly not.

– James Doubek

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