The SLC Foursquare Church
with Focused Minds, Bent Life, Tough Luck, Speak Out, From Hell
The best thing about all-ages hardcore shows isn't the moshing. It's not the contrived feeling of male camaraderie and it's not the chance to shout along to a butchered Chain of Strength cover. No, the best thing about all-ages hardcore shows is the simple fact that six legitimate bands can play full sets, and the passive observer can still be home in time for 10 PM Simpsons re-runs and a hot bath before the following work day. Call me old-fashioned (I'm writing this on an iPad, dude), but creature comforts reign supreme these days. Additionally, hardwood floors and Vans classics make for sore knees and bruised heels ... but I ain't complaining.
From Hell was a last-minute addition to this show, and this set served as my initiation. I knew about their Detroit pedigree and involvement with early ’00s dorkiness that I couldn't give a rat's rear over (xTyrantx? Ooof). Luckily, these dudes tear hearty pages from Dwid's Holy Terror manual, and the resulting melee was one of Ringworm/Integ worship that shook the very spiritual foundations of the hosting venue. Reactions weren't stellar, but the band wasn't slowed by it, as they're more a "bob yer head and feel the darkness" kinda band anyway. I back the shit out of scrappy bands playing their guts out, even when no one else is responding, so in that department, From Hell gets a solid gold star (as do the Alice in Chains rip shirts). I'm not entirely sure why they played before Speak Out, but they channelled the demons early and got things running in an oh-so-unholy way.
Now, if for nothing else, Speak Out should get a little more attention for the fact that they're from Salt Lake and DON'T pray at the altar of Martyr AD. Instead, they've got a bouncy Lockin' Out vibe, pulled together with some screechy vocals. I've even seen 'em execute a solid Floorpunch cover in the past, and in the past few months, they've certainly grown more confident and cohesive. Their reaction was small, but for a new band it's somewhat expected ... and god willing, they'll have a bassist in the near future. Word on the street is that they're all out of tapes, but if you pester them on Facebook, they may dub some more.
Tough Luck was another last minute addition, and got the pit all whipped up Richmond Summer Slam style. Think ’90s 'core with an ear for breaks and a little bit of sludge. Though heavy stomps and downstrokes seemed to be their calling card, what impressed me most was their tight percussion, channeling Biohazard's Danny Schuler: Tight, metronomic and maddeningly bombastic. I later found out that a girl got slammed through a retaining wall (equal rights, equal fights, amiright?) and a baby was born in the bathroom. If this band hasn't signed to Reaper yet, they will be soon.
Bent Life hails from the distant land of Lincoln Neb. and play NYHC style mosh. For those who care, they've got a 7" sporting art by Spoiler (Belgium's answer to Sean Taggart) and the jams are tight. Maybe not the most refreshing or original sound to emanate from the tattered Marshalls this evening, but Bent Life gets the award for longest mosh part (which, no fooling, lasted roughly 90 seconds), and for possibly being named after an Aesop Rock track. I was disappointed to hear them lead into a song called "The Hard Way" and it not be the classic Outburst track (Where the Wild Things Are version, poseur), but hearty reactions nonetheless. Midwest wolfpack, ya heard?
Focused Minds was whom I came to see mostly, and for some retarded reason, the crowd had shrunk considerably when they set up. Probably because they don't ape Merauder ... but what do I know? Is Youth Crew out? Only in SLC, I guess. Hearing them warm up with White Zombie's "Thunder Kiss 65" should've brought a few more miscreants in, but it didn't ... and it's their loss. Focused Minds play an unapologetically straight edge hardcore with nods to some of the more recent Midwest bands, like Expired Youth. A broken bass strap killed the momentum, but a new song from a forthcoming 12" brought it back. (I swear, the choral refrain contained the lyrics: "Fuck you...maaan!") as did singalongs from "Face It" and "I'm not You." I still think this band is underappreciated in their entirety and I don't care who knows it. It’s shameful that people were sitting outside during their set ... when I become the Czar of hardcore, all that will change.
Naysayer is a band who never stops touring. As far as I'm concerned, they all actually live in vans, subsisting on gas station food and Sick of it All live sets, stopping periodically to mosh and pee. I've only really been a fan of their first 7", but somehow, I've seen them live in Salt Lake five times. Musically, I'm reminded of a more uninspired version of Madball and things run a little samey, but they get stellar reactions wherever they go. I also copped issue #4 of The Real Deal fanzine from their merch table, so my vision's all rosey anyway. Regardless, they played the hits, namely "Affliction," and mosh-tosterone levels read off the charts. I'm not sure of their working status, or if they've got anything new coming down the pipeline, but Salt Lake loves 'em, as made evident that night.
Ultimately, it's weird that we live in a time when heavy, moshable hardcore is getting played by kids from suburban cities and not grizzled construction workers with face tattoos that beat each other senseless with socks filled with nickels. In fact, I kinda like it. As long as I get out of the brawl by 10:30 and can cop a Mountain Dew on the way home, this will always be the best way to spend a summer night. On to Sound and Fury fest!