I ducked outside to get some Doritos and listen to the buzz surrounding the band coming up. Now, I'll admit, I'm not an SLC lifer. I've heard the name Cool Your Jets in passing and I've passively checked 'em out but never dug too deep into their catalog or backstory. That being said, I know they're a beloved institution at this point and so my curiosity drove me into this set. I'm not sure their status (active? inactive? scab lineup?) but damn, they had it tight. For starters, I can dig their aesthetic. I know the prospect of a meathead straight edge band from SLC might chill some hipster blood, but seeing an X'd up singer decked out in a Shattered Realm jersey got me nostalgic and in some weird alternate reality, it made my day. He had a unique presence too, at best sounding like a (slightly) screechier Stop and Think and the riffs were heavy and galloping...but what took the proverbial core-cake was the mosh olympics that ensued when they started. I know some of you are familiar, but this was my first time and I was completely INTOXICATED by the bedlam that erupted. "Don't break anything in the church, just hit each other!" said the vocalist before tossing three regulation sized dodgballs into the pit. It was like a war zone. At heart, I'm a jock (punk sucks) so pelting unsuspecting simpletons with dodgeballs in a church gym was kind of a dream come true. I saw some dude done up like Scott Weiland in the "Sour Girl" video get decked, and that wasn't too cool, but I mean...I ain't the "no fun police." My only fear was that I would step on one of those dodgeballs mid-skank and royally twist my ankle, but I walked away from that one, bruised but unbowed. Think a funner and marginally less threatening version of Bad Luck 13 Riot Extravaganza (or a slightly more dangerous Good Clean Fun). Let's hope there's more where that came from!
Now, I'm not sure exactly what I expected from Shai Hulud, but I definitely expected a bigger crowd than I saw. Maybe people just left after Cool Your Jets, which is their prerogative (the set ruled) but I thought 'Hulud had a bigger following in Salty City. The singer and guitarist both proved well aware of the emptying gym and kept urging us forward. They played well though and kids moshed (no dives though). "Set Your Body Ablaze," "This Song..." and "A Profound Hatred of Man" probably got the most vibrant reactions, but everything really seemed tame next to that CYJ set. I saw someone split their shorts on a spinkick (bad deal) but I've lost plenty of clothes to the pit. Singer said something about "playing in a town where no one knows your band" which seemed odd because I think lots of kids in SLC like Shai Hulud...I just don't know why they didn't come out. Disappointing on behalf of the supporters, but I really think the band pulled through with a great show despite it.
Now, why Shai Hulud wasn't the headliner and some band that I've never heard of was, is completely beyond me. I know I'm losing touch with reality, I don't have my finger firmly on the pulse of the youth movement...but it still seemed bonkers. A Plea for Purging had some of the dorkiest merch this side of Hot Topic. Justin Bieber rips, Notorious B.I.G parodies and a Terror spoof that said "Keepers of the Fat" (OK, that's actually kind of clever). The diminished crowd couldn't hide the fact that there were distinct individuals who'd actually stuck around JUST to see this band. I don't pretend to understand it, I'm just an observer. Either way, the band is not my thing. Heavily guitar oriented metalcore with plenty of riffs and solos...it just seems like the kind of stuff I "outgrew" when I first heard Age of Quarrel (pretentious? Fight me broh).
Still, amongst the schlock, I saw some real gems. Cool Your Jets had the best set of the night, and Shai Hulud is still scrappy and vital in an aging state...but I heard that in Austin SXSW Power Trip decimated a stage and some bouncers got beat up during a Cro-Mags set. What I wouldn't have given to be there. Hardcore lives dawg. You just gotta sift through the doggie doo to find it. Another success story for The Mosh Church.