I can’t see them, but I hear some pretty frantic guitars reverberating against the walls of the tiny venue. The tempo picks up with the drummer and screeching vocals, but so does the wind outside, blowing my skirt and cigarette ash all around. I should be in there—I really just wanna see this Canadian duo in action. Their opening set is an eclectic blend of pop, punk and a whole lot of noise without being overly energetic. Musically, the night is off to a good start.
Their set is a short one, and before I know it, Swedish band Makthaverskan take their place. I’m still waiting outside and getting anxious because I’m missing exactly what I signed up to be there for. The crowd that filed in since I arrived is sparse but enthused when vocalist Maja Milner gets onstage. I think she’s got a head cold, though, ’cause she sounds a little more strained and she howls a little less than I’m accustomed to, and the set is unusually short—but I’m still digging it. It’s loud, though—like, make-you-physically-discomforted loud. I’m pleased because they’re playing the perfect volume for me to hear everything without making my ears bleed. They’re killing it with their harping vocals and sporadic sound. I’m still stuck outside looking cute, sucking on a dum-dum and scheming about what I can use to pry the back door open. I’m about to do something drastic when I get a tip that someone named “Patrick” is going to meet me at the door to let me in.
At the gate, I’m told that one of the dudes from headlining band Self Defense Family was going to spot me to get into their own show. I’m slightly mortified, but the emotion is fleeting when I remember whom I’m here to see. Maybe my guardian angel was lead singer of Self Defense Family, Patrick Kindlon. I slink past and offer a hasty thanks before scurrying inside the dark room. There are some scrawny little kids that are awkwardly milling about Makthaverskan at their merch table and not many else besides that. But I’m finally in and Self Defense Family is just taking their place on stage. It’s as interesting a crowd as I’d imagined on the other side of the fence. It’s just a few scattered, quiet, shy guys with a lot of feels all under one roof together. Weirdly enough, I feel pretty comfortable in here. I plant myself right in the middle of the room where I’ve got the best view. I can simultaneously observe stage, floor and any potential creeps, ’cause I’m a tiny girl and we have to think about these things showing up stag to a show (yes, even in Salt Lake).
Kindlon’s stage banter mirrors the charming awkwardness of the audience. He shares his admiration for our town for burning down fish farms and dives into an emotional hardcore punk ballad about animal rights. I really love the look of the band. It’s all so cohesive and their sound is fluid. The members all circle around Kindlon and he starts to do some sort of trance dance, praying to some ancient gods. With closed eyes, his body jerks and twists with every kick and snare. The intensity level in their performance is high, but it’s not abrasive—it sits well with the audience and myself. It’s pulsing and calculated with intricately arranged songs—a constructed chaos. I love their emo-revival sound. It’s something I’ve been craving since 2005.
It was a surprisingly intimate experience, and I was psyched I didn’t have to experience the whole thing from the curb. It felt like a reunion with my high school family. We’re all a little older, but we’ve held onto that little patch of darkness that lives in the deepest corners of our souls that only comes out when you experience a presence like Self Defense Family barking in your ears. I’m mesmerized by his performance and the sounds coming from their wailing guitars and so is the audience. Yeah, they’re a quiet bunch, but everyone seems content with what everyone else is doing. It’s organic. I’d highly recommend you pick up any of Self Defense Family or Makthaverskan’s latest releases. If you wanna try and fight me by saying their post-punk vibe isn’t your jam, I’d strongly suggest you to reconsider. This show reminded me that sometimes wearing a sundress and chain-sucking dum-dums in the dirt will get you exactly what you need in life to get you through another week of fighting the good fight.