Even without his liberty spikes, Jorge Herrera led The Casualties through a raucous set of punk rock. Photo: Frank Carroll
The Casualties w/ Year of the Wolf, All Systems Fail and Drunk As Shit @ The Salt Haus 5.25
We're now in the full swing of summer folks. Prior to the show, I spent a large amount of time in the sun, basking in the quiet glow of the midday sun. People were walking hand-in-hand practically skipping for joy with winter being the furthest thing from their minds. Dogs were off their leashes pissing on anything that didn't move or humping it if it did. I arrived at the Salt Haus a little early and decided to engage in a newly found hobby, geocaching. After twenty minutes of walking down the severely dilapidated 400 West, I realized that scavenging in the industrial district made me look and feel like a junkie. So instead of scrounging for the next cache, I anxiously sat outside the venue until the first band began to play.
All Systems Fail was the first band on stage. A bit late for the show and in a rush, the band quickly got their stuff on stage and began to play. A staple of the local music scene, All Systems Fail are fast and in your face with politically radical lyrics and crust punk mentality. I'm still blown away by how great this band is and how I can't get enough of their festering, pessimistic views. Duel vocals and some serious drumming, All Systems Fail tried to get the audience to warm up with their most-brutal riffs, but more people seemed interested in the food being grilled out back. However, midway through their set, people started tricking in and the show started to pick up. People were on the sidelines stretching, others were engaging in semi-circle pit behavior. By the time All Systems Fail finished out there set, it was pretty apparent how hot it was. I was pretty damp and I had barely moved from one end of the room to the other. The band walked off stage and I followed them out to get some dry summer air.
You could totally tell it was summer. Male punks were wearing shorts or holey jeans instead of skinny jeans, high-top sandals were quite common and the female punks went from wearing “very little” to “almost nothing”. An orange haze enveloped the sky, the long shadows of young punks further exaggerated their already embellished mohawks and chelseas. People were sharing cigarettes, bragging about how wasted they were last weekend and how much they hated so-and-so, it was nice.
Year of the Wolf is a band that you can't tell if they're completely serious. The first thing you see is bassists Chris Drelinger dawning a large and intimidating wolf mask, Gunner Bandura sports a legitimate half hawk and their male drummer (who is not listed on their Facebook page) looks hardened and a bit bitter, someone you wouldn't want to fuck with in an alley. Their equipment looks like it's been heavily loved or abused, which is a sure sign of things to come. Once you hear this rag-tag group of misfits shred, you'll know they're not just fucking around, they're here to love and grind up against your ears. Thrashy gutter punk with a campy flair, Year of the Wolf assert themselves onto the audience. Songs like “Hunt or Be Hunted” are doom-tinged and thrashy with shouting vocals reminiscent of the Distillers. This is not my first time seeing YOTW, they played Localized earlier this year and they've only gotten better. When I first heard them, they were loud, disorganized and probably a bit too drunk to be on stage. Since then, they're stage performance has drastically improved and even though I enjoyed them the first time I saw them, the second time around was a much more enjoyable experience. I mean, they're still loud, drunk and disorganized, but they now know what they're doing. Unfortunately, I missed the last half of their set because I was interviewing Rick Lopez of the The Casualties.
Year of the Wolf howled off stage and the stubborn bastards we call Drunk As Shit ambled up. The stage, which had been built earlier in the day, was barely large enough to hold this five man experience. As their name implies, these guys are chaotic, loud and have some dirty mouths on them. This is the second time I've seen Drunk As Shit, and the last time I saw them, I didn't pay much attention, which was a mistake. Drunk As Shit is as fun as it gets. People were rowdy and unapologetic for these gentlemen. Stage diving and circle pit maneuvers were common by the midpoint of their set. At one point, Ferro (their vocalist), offered up free CDs and a free t-shirt for anyone willing to grab it. The funny thing is that everyone stayed off the stage and waited for him to throw it. No one had the idea to just walk up and take the t-shirt from him. The product placement frothed the audience into a violent frenzy and, as a result, I'm pretty sure the stage was partially cracked on it's maiden performance. These repugnant vagabonds closed the show with a song that I believe was called “I'm gonna fuck a white bitch”, real classy guys.
The Casualties walked on stage to a twangy, rockabilly song and immediately went into a jam from For the Punx. To say I was excited would be an understatement. I've been a fan of these gents since the age of 15 and I haven't seen them since 2006. I was never a punk per se (it was too expensive to buy the outfit), but bands like The Casualties, Leftover Crack and The Virus got as much play in my CD player as The Smiths, Tomahawk and Descendents. Jorge seemed like he was having a bit of “day off”, no liberty spikes (in his defense, it was a bit hot for such a hairstyle) or the usual outfit. Jake and Rick were fully dressed for the occasion and seemed pretty stoked about the show. It felt like a real punk show from an outsider's perspective-- all the kids were in leather jackets or braces, the venue was dark and looked like a basement and the location is perfect with crumbling infrastructure surrounding it. The audience responded with fury and vigor to their the rocking set. The highlight of the night was hearing two songs-- “Punx and Skinx” and “We Are All We Have”, the audience went crazy for these songs. At one point, I'm pretty sure there were more people on the stage than in the audience. People dived into what they though was a dense crowd, instead landing back first onto the unforgiving concrete surface. The band played well past the curfew and no one seemed to care, even playing an encore without Jorge, allowing the audience to perform the vocals themselves. It was an all out battle for the mic, with the show's savior, Frank, having to cut the mics when it was getting too crazy. As The Casualties left, all that could be heard was the whipped up audience shouting “we are punks”.