Also in SLC's Eagle Twin, Tyler Smith is Clearly a brutal drummer. Photo: Matthew Windsor
Clear reunited August 30 and 31 to celebrate fallen band mate Mick Morris, who recently died at the age of 35. Salt Lake City's hardcore family came out en masse to show their support for this very beloved band and the late bassist. Proceeds for the shows went to his son, Jude.
If you are reading this review and have never heard of Clear/xClearx, check out these two videos (SLUG's documentary and a short film from Sundance) and you'll get a glimpse on how big of a fucking deal Clear is for Utah. Prior to two years ago, I had never heard of the band of. I was simply too young when they were around, and by the time I got into hardcore punk, everyone was long established in other bands. To counteract these years of ignorance, I have taken it upon myself in the last year to educate myself on Utah's music past—Massacre Guys, Iceburn, Unbound and Victims Willing are just some of the bands I've discovered thanks to SLCHardcore.com's selection of local music. To see this band perform live is a rare event, and I feel glad to have seen one of the two concerts last week. Friday night's show, as well as Saturday's show, was something of a Utah music history lesson, and for some of the younger fans like myself, to see the likes of Reality, Tamarlane and Triphammer is pretty fucking cool.
I arrived late to the show and was only able to catch five minutes of opening band Don’t Trust Anybody, but from what I've heard of their stuff online, these guys are great. I hope I get to see them perform a full set next time around.
After DTA performed, Dismantled got up on the stage to dominate the show. The first thing I noticed about Dismantled was the stage presence of their leader singer, who looks pretty aggressive on stage. It would not have surprised me if he had pounced off stage, bit through someone's jugular vein, then continued performing. Dismantled have a grindcore sound to them, with brief moments of melodic singing. From what I found of Dismantled online (once again, thank you SLCHardcore.com), they didn't perform with a PA very often when they were an active band, which is unfortunate. The crazy skin-beating drums that pumped through the PA Friday is something to admire—simply aggressive.
Between performances, I got a chance to look at INDVRS performance gear. Nothing but Sunn and Earth amps lined the stage. Solely based on their gear, I knew I was in for a treat. Phil White, lead singer of INVDRS, is a metal shaman. Arms up high, wild hair and flashy hand moves, I felt entranced by White's godly stage presence. Their sound is a concoction of Sabbath-like progressive funeral doom with vocals strongly influenced by high-pitched thrash. At the same time, they have an experimental quality to them. All this garbled description say one thing: they put on a killer performance. Several times, I got chills from the tones and chords pushed out of those fuzzy Sunn amps. Their appropriate use of the violin to provide atmosphere rather than playing a lead role is one of their stronger points as a band. The song that left me wanting for more was, by far, their cover of T. Rex's “Children of the Revolution.” If you haven't heard it before, I suggest you find their album, Electric Church, and put it on repeat.
Once Clear took the platform, you knew it was going to be a violent and chaotic show. Men—not boys, but men—took the center of the stage and began to initiate the circle pit. Normally when I'm at a show and I want to get in the pit for a song, I'm not worried because the guys in the pit are skinny punks like myself. These guys, on the other hand, were larger guys in their late 30s. People that did physical labor for a living—guys with real mass. The closest I got was the edge of the pit, and sometimes, when they crashed up against the audience, it was too much for my fragile body to take. Donkey kicks and windmills all around, it was as aggressive as it gets short of people exchanging intentional blows.
Clear is a sound unique to Utah. To begin with, most hardcore bands opt for songs no longer than three minutes, yet most of Clear's repertoire is well over four minutes. Take that into account if you see these guys: four minutes of screams without water, four minutes of skin-beating, finger-slicing focus. In their late 30s, this band performs harder and longer than any other band I've ever seen in the scene. Pure brutal force. Jason Knotts, lead vocals, is someone you don't want to fuck with, ever. The fact he didn't hurl all over the front of the stage is nothing short of a miracle. Red-faced, guttural growls and pig squeals—the range that man has, if graphed, would span a football field. The band opened with “Depth of Black,” which starts out with a thrashy drum-driven pace and ends in jangly guitars and growls only Cookie Monster would be proud of. Tyler, drummer and current member of Eagle Twin, pushed the performance forward, often playing right before any other instrument made a move. These guys performed every song you ever wanted to hear: “Skulldozer,” “Falling Into Ashes” and, my personal favorite, “Fire Walk With Me.” When they closed with an unreleased song about Mick, “13,” and ever-popular “Deeper Than Blood,” all I could think was how much I wished I could attend the next night. Please keep playing, Clear—a boost from Utah's musical past is what this scene needs.
Check out more photos of the show on Saturday at the Salt Haus here.