Basic Skills Review, Supreme Commander, Killer of Sheep, JJ & the Bandits, and Cultivator
Ras Hall, Feb. 19, 2012
For the win and for the record: Fuck the world, I love a Sunday matinee.
This show was sort of a tester for the semi-regular Sunday matinees happening at the new venue Ras Hall on Georgia Avenue, and I wanted to see how this was going to play out.
For the youth, today we had a pretty diverse bill that ranged from the rock-a-silly sounds of JJ and the Bandits to the old-school hardcore fury of Basic Skills Review to one of the most intense and interesting bands I’ve seen in a long time.
I don’t know what it was that got me so amped on Sunday matinee shows in the first place (maybe it’s because I really liked that “Best of New York Hardcore” CD), but Sunday is the first day of my weekend with my current work schedule, so it feels like I get to wake up on “Saturday,” roll out of bed, put on some clothes and begin day-drinking with a bunch of my rock / punk friends. Nobody cannot not say that does not sound fun. The order of operations this afternoon for me was to greet everyone I knew standing outside, repeat inside with everyone and grab a beer. I wet my whistle and walked around Ras Hall checking it out – this place is a straight-up shrine or museum or something for Haile Selassie: Big awesome mural behind the stage area, lots of framed photos, newspapers and posters, lots of flags for Ethiopia, Jamaica, and the good ol’ USA as well. Ras Hall has a very cool vibe that is very appropriate for the District of Bad Brains.
JJ Damage and the Bandits play their own brand of D.C. / Appalachian punk influenced rockabilly and they do an admirable job of keeping my interest in spite of the fact that I really can’t stand this shit.
I’m completely and unabashedly honest about this fact to audiences such as the boys in the band. They have a lot of fun, though (you can see it on their faces), and they are a good band. They managed to keep me focused by keeping enough of punk rock in their music.
This was the first time I’ve seen this band with a decent sound system, which, for this band, really makes a difference. I could really make out what they were doing this time, unlike the previous times I’ve caught them. It’s good to see that under a microscope these boys come out shining.
You should definitely check these guys out if you are into punk and also happen to be a hillbilly.
Next up was one of two touring bands down here from Pittsburgh: Cultivator.
Cultivator is a really great three-piece unit and that plays a great style of hardcore that brings very cool, fun, fast Black Flag-y West Coast-style and Black Sabbath-y slowdowns and deep low ends and then throws in a Minutemen reference because they are a musically and lyrically powerful three piece and a Bad Brains reference because they have a positive message to the music (and some crucial dreads on the singer) – and, there, you probably have every review about these guys that anyone will ever write or read – and that review is accurate as hell!
They took a lot of my favorite bands and made their own beautiful thing out of the pieces. I managed to somehow get myself high on weed and I was talking to the singer and he was talking about CDs and records and how the band needs to make a decision and I hope they do it soon so that I can get my hands on these jams and really get to take in a lot more of what they have to say but upon first inspection: like, whoa, Cultivator, man.
I hope they come down to this area as often as possible.
They played a relatively short set but the energy was so fun the whole time that even if they had played for a full hour I probably still would have thought their set was short. Try to check this band out and try and cop their record or CD (or whatever) whenever these guys make it happen.
Next up is BSR, Basic Skills Review – a bunch of cats who came out of the Reston, Virginia region and have been active in the hardcore/punk rock community for probably a combined 80-100 years, and I don’t think they wasted any of that time.
BSR is a group of really smart and talented guys who come together and show bands half their age what having energy looks like. I know for a fact that I definitely don’t move around like Brian, but I’m old, too, so who cares? You young kids have no excuse! Watch this guy and learn. Every BSR set I’ve caught was tight and fast and aggressive, but also filled with good vibes.
One of the things I like about BSR is that they play straightforward fast hardcore, but don’t ever let their band be pigeonholed. There are lots of cool breaks and changes, lots of sing-a-longs and fing-er-points, something for the circle pit kids, something for the 2 steppers and something for a drunk Dave Andrews to run around to, knocking people over like a bulldozer. Get into it if you aren’t already.
You can get the “Scab sessions” CD at most of their shows, which I believe is a recording from a University of Maryland radio show they performed on and I think they might be coming out with something a little more refined before much longer.
The next band was Killer of Sheep. They too are from Pittsburgh. They are so much better than your band!
I had heard people talking about them like they were on some whole other shit and it turns out they are. Best band I’ve heard in awhile.
I’m telling you: This singer dude is intense. He throws himself around recklessly and screams his head off. The rest of the band plays hardcore like it is some kind of big living serpent that is surging and lunging everywhere trying to lash out and damage everything in striking distance. You think I’m kidding. I’m not. I’m typing with a face that is straighter than yr edge. You probably think, “Oh it’s just Dave: He was probably high. You can’t take his review seriously,” and I am just Dave, and I was pretty high, and my review is 100% accurate.
I wish I could have stuck around, but I needed to leave, so unfortunately Supreme Commander got skipped, but I will review their show as if I had been there, because I’ve seen them enough times and I was just listening to the new record of theirs three nights ago and it’s bona fide: This album is probably going to prove to be the best album to come out of the district of Bad Brains in 2012, and that is going up against stiff competition from the likes of Nervous Impulse, Copstabber and others.
Supreme Commander almost definitely came out of the box swinging for the fences because they always do and when you step onstage after a band like Killer of Sheep you have to or else people are going to think you suck – and Supreme Commander ain’t gonna go out like no punk!
I’m pretty sure Boo stomped around and Todd and Dan looked at each other knowingly several times throughout the set and Reiter didn’t miss a beat (if anything he threw in a bunch of extra ones). This set was probably awesome and I am disappointed that I missed it, but after a show like this – even if you have some regrets and were bulldozed repeatedly by a drunk Dave Andrews – the rewards outweigh the negative feelings and you just have to be glad that you got to be there, in that place at that time. This was my afternoon and this was a lot of other afternoons.