Comeback Kid, Foundation, Such Gold, Living With Lions, Gunner @ Club Sound 04.07
SLUG sent two of our best hardcore and punk music writers to the show for a bit of nostalgia, and they returned with broken glasses, scraped noses and the following reviews.
Alexander Ortega vs. Comeback Kid
Growing up as more of a “punk kid,” whenever I walk into a two-steppy hardcore show, I am reminded: Oh yeah … HARDCORE. Hoodies abound, and I’m always curious as to whether there’s a sport similar to Quidditch where these kids take ping pong balls and try to throw them through each other’s enormously gauged earlobes as a proxy for beer pong. Once I saw some of my straight edge friends, though, I settled in and enjoyed the show, equally awaiting Comeback Kid just as much, if not more than everyone else, only feeling apprehensive when the huge dude started “picking up change” near where I was standing …
Local opener Gunner kicked things off. Their guitars seemed to have their gain turned down be-low the usual, crunchy distortion level that I often hear with hardcore. At first, that element came across as kind of weird because you couldn’t really hear what their guitarists were playing tonal-ly, and it seemed like they were taking Against Me!’s Eternal Cowboy and making it post-hardcore. The sound guy finally caught on, though, and adjusted the levels, and Gunner started feeling their groove as they went on to ultimately kill their set with a distinct branding of their own. Kids started moshing from the get-go for this band’s set, but in turns, as if they were per-forming modern dance solos, and then in gaggles, reminiscent of when the Arcadians try to attack the Persians in 300. Gunner announced that they’ll soon be releasing a split with Despite Despair, which I foresee being way tight.
Living With Lions, a five piece, followed with their surprise delivery of some melodic hardcore à la Rise Against, except a bit more gruff. Nobody moshed for them—not because they weren’t good, but more so because their singer doesn’t employ the customary hardcore growl. I mean, nobody seemed to mind or anything; it was all OK because their singer was wearing a Trap Them shirt. Aside from everyone actin’ tuff and pretending not to like them at the risk of it making them pussies, the guitarists performed virtuosically as they bounced consonant melodies off of the other’s rhythms and vice versa. Though I’m sub-culturally aware enough to differentiate between melodic hardcore and emo, I couldn’t help but notice the girls who still rock the “scene-girl” haircut—you know, like, dyed jet-black hair with those straight-across bangs where the overall shape is kind of square, which was ‘in’—kind of— before the hipster apocalypse hit.
Following in a similar musical vein, Such Gold played next. Although they also play a form of melodic hardcore, their take on their music came across as having more aggressive vocals than Living With Lions, which was humorously compounded by the vocalist’s likeness to Jason Biggs, who held out his non-mic-wielding hand as if he were reciting a soliloquy from Hamlet. Their sound seemed to be infused with the husky vocal stylings of Hot Water Music/Chuck Ra-gan’s work, which worked well with the melodies that their front line played. Eventually, their songs sort of blended together and it was hard to discern how one song differed from the next. All in all, though, they deftly pounded through their set, and had a solid sense of their sound and musical gait.
Before Foundation started, I decided to grab a beer because, according to my cohort, Dylan Chadwick, “the mosh” was going to get “heavy” for their set, and I wanted to numb myself be-fore getting clocked in the face. During the first song, as I watched from beyond the portal of the bar that leads to the all-ages area, the weight of the mosh broke a few of the people up front and a fight ensued. Security eventually dragged a kid out the side door of the venue, and I saw a guard with some skin busted on the left side of his face trudge into where I was standing. Foundation’s vocalist stepped up once the skirmish was over to responsibly declare, “I don’t know what happened, and I don’t care,” and urged the audience to take any fisticuffs they might have away from the show, and gave the injured guard his radio back. They ensued with mean hardcore riddled with machine-gun chugs and atom-bomb breakdowns. The kids had been reserving their energy to go ape-shit in the pit with nonchalant fury.
At long last, Comeback Kid took the stage. I had seen them for the first time last year and had high expectations for this performance. On the first note of opener “Do Yourself a Favor,” I al-ready knew that I wouldn’t be disappointed. I know I like a band when I see them and want to play along with them, but I know I love a band when I feel my whole body tingling and I’m en-gulfed by the sublimity of the moment. All of a sudden, I hear the intro to “Broadcasting…” and my fist shoots in the air and I’m screaming, “But I feel so far! So far! Removed!” I’ve heard a little bit of guff about Andrew Neufeld replacing Scott Wade as the vocalist, but I honestly like Neufeld’s timbre more than Wade’s, and Neufeld exhibited his versatility as a vocalist par excel-lence for this performance as he propelled melodic sing-along choruses and sonically tore through space. To be honest, I haven’t heard their newest release, Symptoms + Cures, but Neufeld holding the mic over the crowd to sing the catchy “G.M. Vincent and I” ensured that I will. Not as many kids moshed for CBK’s set, but I would chock that up to most people wanting to sing along and taking the time to stage dive (I saw the most epic person-catch as a fairly large dude careened my way and a tall, lanky guy caught him by the shoulders and swiftly maneuvered him from a near-swan dive to a relatively upright position in midair). Shit, I even took a turn and nearly face planted—I didn’t care, though, because I was so in the moment. Comeback Kid closed the show with “Wake the Dead,” as bodies catapulted from off and toward the stage while all of the up-close audience continued to sing along, nonplussed: “You said, you said, you said this time was gonna be different!”
Dylan Chadwick vs. Comeback Kid
I've always had some apprehensions with these "package tours." The intent is certainly pure, as it brings different "types" of bands under one roof (ostensibly gathering different types of fans together, too), but sometimes the approach seems a little scattered to me, and do we really need to mix everything up? Toothpaste doesn't taste good with orange juice, dawg. Still, the turnout proved solid, and it was made all the more impressive by the fact that Explosions in the Sky were playing next door, so for every self-appointed mosh goober hoping to pop off a few stage dives at Club Sound, five iPhone clutching doofuses in leggings, fedoras and comically exaggerated frameless glasses trundled about at In The Venue.
Gunner's a local band that's played a little bit in the area. In the past, my only real attraction to them was that they had the chutzpah to cover a super mainstream Foo Fighters song (which they didn't do at this show). In fact, they've actually revamped the lineup a little bit, booting the old vocalist and soldiering on with a Hetfield-style rhythm-crooner (sans a cowboy pirate drawl). I've worn myself out saying it, but I ain't gonna stop (Jack Kelley, forever in our hearts)––discordant ‘90s hardcore with a bunch of melodi-mosh parts that serve to grate and drag on––they're just not for me. Damnation they are not, so it's hard for me to get stoked on it. That being said, they got a decent reaction on the first cut (even if it was dorky kung-fu mosh), but seeing the pit open up and then have no one dance in it for four subsequent songs was all sorts of awkward. They ripped through some songs from their split with Provo's Despite Despair and the guitarist sported a bright green Martyr AD, shirt so I back that.
Living with Lions hail from Vancouver and feature one of Comeback Kid's guitarists on vocals. It's a lot more melodic than I anticipated, and I wholly expected to see waves and waves of pogoing teeny-boppers swarming the stage, but unfortunately they didn't elicit much of a wild response. Still, it's a hard style to pull off live with multiple vocalists and such. At one point, the singer apologized for his band not being "moshy enough," but thanked us all for watching anyway. Funny. I back it cuz I know it's hard to play when kids aren't going off (I once had some anarchist folkster with an acoustic guitar give me a thumbs down when my band played a coffee shop because I kept talking about pro-wrestling between songs. No fun). They had shirts that spoofed Beavis and Butthead, which might be a little played out (Fire and Ice beat 'em to it), but still a gesture I can support, as it's the only cartoon that's really mattered.
Such Gold seemingly had a bigger following, and while there wasn't much movement, finger-pointing and sing-alongs abounded. Hyper melodic band with nods to Avail or that Gainsville sound that aging bearded PBR bike kids (still) manage to get all chubbed over. The singer was running all over the stage, out of breath and giving his all, so I back 'em for that. Good band live. From a distance, the shirts they were selling looked like the cover art for the Cro-Mags Alpha and Omega album, but upon closer inspection ... nevermind.
OK, so I admit the next two bands were the ones I REALLY came to see, so I was pretty happy to be through with the more melodic stuff. Foundation's a band I've seen almost ten times at this point. (Most notables: 2009's This is Hardcore fest and then last year in Provo when the PA went out, but everyone sang along so loud it didn't matter.) They were in top form (though I could've used some more from the vocal monitor) and they opened with "Purple Heart" (duh). Right off the bat some dorkwad bouncer grabbed some moshing kid by the neck, to which a whole horde of showgoers started slugging him and a full-blown scuffle broke out. I'm not going to take sides, but this bouncer got worked hard. Last I saw, he was cut right above his eye with blood trickling down into it. Someone jacked his hat and radio in the kerfuffle, which seemed to bum him out royally. Somehow the radio ended up on stage and Foundation's vocalist said, "Your radio's up here, tough guy. Come and get it!" Love it. Should fights happen at shows? Probably not, but I love when bouncers get clowned ... and Foundation's vocalist did plenty of it. Most notable was "Chill out, these kids can take care of themselves, let 'em have fun." The rest of the show went on without a hitch (although I got my glasses bent catching a bad dive ... but I bent 'em back to a somewhat reasonable shape back in the bathroom. I need insurance). Best reaction was to "No One Writes Protest Songs Anymore" or maybe "No Cure for Fools." Good straight edge speech, too ("Why is it crazy that I'm the one who doesn't wanna drink himself into a stupor or smoke myself into an early grave? If that makes me crazy than I'll gladly avoid what YOU call sane." Al Barile just smiled somewhere). Great set, plenty of mosh and dives off the charts. Oh! And they had "Hang Your Head" shirts that were homages to Nine Inch Nails’ Pretty Hate Machine. Fourteen-year-old me just smiled somewhere.
I wanted to be all curmudgeony about Comeback Kid. I listened to 'em a lot in high school, especially Turn it Around. I kept insisting that I was only here for nostalgia. They got a new singer that some people don't like, but I'm not very good at being a bitter old dude (though I did just turn 25––does that count for anything?). They were excellent. Played tons of old stuff ("Die Tonight," "Step Ahead," "Final Goodbye" and "Talk is Cheap"). Stage dives were ... well, it looked like a damn tumble gym clinic at some points and it featured a heady mix of people. Crusty looking punk kids, hoodie hardcore jocks, high school aged girls. Good to see. Of course they closed with "Wake the Dead" (I just got a weird memory of that video they made with the moshing zombies) and it was pretty much a perfect closer. Super tight, as they've been going for almost ten years now. The singer was rocking that awesome Warzone shirt with the lion fighting the snake and the guitarist had just run a marathon in Denver. Nothing to be bitter about here. Just fun times, stage dives, high fives ... and something else that rhymes.
Oh, and T-shirt obsessions aren't killing hardcore. Gauged ears and five paneled hats are. –Dylan Chadwick