(L-R) Denny Morrison, Steve "The Boy" Morrison, Marty Lloyd, Steve Hudecek and John Nyman stand together as The Boards in 32 years, still as punk as ever. Photo: Jake Vivori
“What the fuck is that noise?” I’m thinking, as a metallic cacophony erupts from Burt’s stage and spills onto the back patio. I shove my cheap foam earplugs into my ears—I know I’m going to need them for this band—and proceed to investigate. That noise turns out to be Travis Nelson and Ron Ward of Gnawing Suspicion. They’re beating the hell out of some old welding gas cylinders and a steel plate that sits atop a rickety desk. The Salt Lake veteran band is playing dirty, grooving punk, augmented by the crash of metal on metal—“industrial punk” would be a good name for the first half of their set. After a couple of songs, the singer takes a minute to pay his respects to local punk Michael E. Cline, who passed away last week, and dedicates the next song to him. Though this show was already booked prior to Cline’s passing, it has become an impromptu benefit show for Cline’s family. The band plays the uncomfortably fitting “Dead Punkers,” a sad and angsty tribute to the departed. Mr. Ward (whom I seriously think is Ken Sanders for most of the night) saws the edge of the steel plate with a threaded rod with complete concentration and fury. After another of the band’s multiple mid-set lineup changes, they shift gears into straightforward street punk style. One of the guys fires up a metal grinder and jams it into the steel sheet, blasting sparks onto the stage and into the audience. One burst sends sparks my direction, and I’m struck in the face with hot metal. Right in my fucking eye! I back away, make sure I’m not blind, pound my beer so I have a free hand to block the assault, and await more antics. Ward and the other singer are bellowing guttural screams until the start of their last song. The bass player starts pumping out a heavy, gut-tingling dub-style riff, morphing Gnawing Suspicion into an aural cousin of Bad Brains and The Clash. Ward is rocking the keys and Chaos pad, injecting a dose of weirdness and modern style into the dub-punk groove, replete with radical guitar solos.