By David Poole
Punk rock and hardcore have been constants in my life for almost 30 years, and of course I always remember those days when I was first coming up. It was a cool time to be coming into your teens; the ’80s were wrapping up and the weird-ass ’90s were coming to life.
It was a period of time where aggressive music had seen all of the first-wave artists introduce the world to that raw energy – putting all that anger and pain and love and power on the line and tying everything up into neat little minute-and-a-half windows into a world most people have never seen and couldn’t begin to understand.
As those pioneers burnt out, died, or somehow fell into oblivion under the ground that they broke, the next wave came through and carried the torch, but as things evolved you started to feel like things were safer and the margins of error were greater (even the national and international political climate was a little better – Reagan was gone, we were pretty sure the Russians weren’t going to blow us up anymore, etc.). I mean we definitely still partied our asses off and it was a crazy time and everything but it felt like a safer impersonation of the previous generation, except for on those amazing nights where everything lines up right.
I know most of us have been to a million shows and honestly most of those are a little tame and routine. You pretty much know that nothing out of the ordinary is going to happen and we will mostly go home safe, sound and satisfied at having heard some good tunes and seen some cool friends. However, we have also experienced those out-of-control-nights where the energy is in the right place and you don’t know what’s going to happen. The crowd is an unusual mix. You might meet someone new. You might meet someone you want to meet. The world seems open. Something might alter your perspective, change your mind. Things could change at any second, in a good way or in a bad way. The music is hitting. The crowd is acting like a bunch of rowdy philistines.
This was the case at Slash Run.
This show was set up as a birthday show for Parsons. Any man who can throw himself a birthday party like this has accomplished something in his time in the punk-rock scene. It was clear that a lot of people wanted to party with Parsons. I get it. I was there too. I’ve known Parsons a whole bunch of years at this point and he has always been one of my favorite members of the D.C. hardcore family. He had my back when the PC kids were treating me like some kind of asshole pariah. That’s how he works – a man who judges you because of who you are, not because of how you party or the name of your band. The type of dude who will set up a birthday party show for himself with all his pals’ bands and then when tragedy strikes, co-opts his own party and makes it a benefit show (in this case for Tim No Justice who recently went through brain surgery).
… The show got off to a late start. Nothing revolutionary there but it gave everyone the chance to get a few beers in, say hi to a hundred pals, or go into some sort of claustrophobic fit (it was crowded; this was the first show at Slash Run; good-size room; not huge; seems like a cool spot).
Heatwave kicked things off. They were a good act to get people ready for the rest of the show. They played energetic hardcore with some technically really solid ’90s-worship going on, including a cover of “Juggernaut” by Crown of Thornz. The singer did a good job of keeping people involved and engaged, which as the opener can be a real problem. I thought they were a good, fun band with some things going for them. I will never be bummed out seeing them on a lineup anywhere.
As previously indicated, one of the noteworthy things about this show that was the diversity of the characters involved. The different styles of the bands, the weird mix of fans – it was great. It easily could have become a powder-keg at any moment too, but whether it was the youthful punk rockers trying to find their footing in a scene they are struggling to understand, the college-looking mama-jamas in sweaters and nice jeans, the metal dudes with cool beards, or the gang of skinheads, it was cool to see everyone getting along – for the most part.
One of my favorite moments was when one of the younger attendees came up to Sharad (from Ilsa) and I. He was wearing a long vest with a lot of patches on it, but it was a really long vest that came down to his thighs (it was a “trench-vest”). The kid asked us if there was a mosh pit inside and Sharad let him know that he would need to find the mosh pit inside himself and then he could take the mosh pit wherever he went. That seemed to please the young man. For the rest of the night he seemed like he found his internal mosh zone and had a blast.
Speaking of which: If I told you that people went off for Semper Eadem it would be an understatement. It was so much fun to watch all the wild motherfuckers bouncing around, throwing themselves across the room, throwing each other across the room, climbing around on the ceiling. I seen it all. Motherfuckers were acting up … and who can blame them? Good hardcore with heavy doses of street punk and oi can do that to you. I want to say that this band has been around for four or five years and I always remember it as “the new band featuring Steve from 86 Mentality,” but throw in Parsons (Time to Escape, a lot of other bands), Pat Vogel (a million bands), and Connor Donegan (Genocide Pact) and you have one hell of a lineup. Semper Eadem rules. They probably played a 25-minute-set of high energy, in-your-face hardcore and nobody in the room was able to resist the fun. There were finger-points going up from the front of the room to the back, people who knew the songs singing along and jumping into the fray for their favorites, people fake singing along when they didn’t know what was going on. It was so much fun and then it was over. Semper Eadem did a cover of No Justice during their set and the room just about lost it. It was great to see the love and respect for a solid dude and if mosh energy can send healing energy then Timmy should be up and about in no time.
Vanity was up next and I was super-excited. I love punk rock ’n’ roll with cool hooks. If you can throw in a sense of humor and an awesome “fuck you” vibe on top of the great music then I’m sold. I don’t want to diminish the value of this event as a fundraiser for a great cause, because that wound up being the focus of the evening, but this show was also a birthday party and Vanity really seems to know a thing or two about partying.
You could hear the singer’s fine-ass voice and discern his words. The band purveyed distinct styles in different songs. It’s kind of rare to hear a band cover this much terrain. They delved into punk, straight rock ’n’ roll, and trashy garage music for a sound that is unique and catchy and accessible enough to take them a long way. Vanity is from New York City, and New York does seem to do this type of thing better than anywhere else. I can’t wait to see them again, with a little more familiarity, because I feel a real kinship with this band. Vanity doesn’t seem like they let anyone tell them how to party.
Both Vanity and Loud Boyz write songs catchy enough to stick in your head for days after the show.
Loud Boyz have made an impact on our local music scene by being the biggest and best party night after night. The music is super-tight, the bros are top-notch, and their crowd comes out and represents in a way that very few other bands around here can equal. Loud Boyz play punk rock party alternative core and my favorite thing about seeing this band play (besides the fact that there are always lots of pals there) is watching the audience while the show is happening to them, because the party just kind of happens to you at a Loud Boyz show. This band takes the guesswork out of it. There was a look of elation on the face of nearly everyone at this performance.
Loud Boyz played a kick-ass set as expected and played all the hits. There was a ghost of a party shaman looking down at Slash Run with a single tear running down his face.
There was dancing and there was celebrating. There were hugs, high-fives, beers, and cigarettes. There were drugs and yelling and laughing and a kid finding his internal mosh zone. There were trench-vests, faux-fur coats, and headbands.
It was the kind of night that keeps you coming back for more.