John Brannon unleashed 30 years worth of vitriol on the Shred Shed crowd Saturday night. Photo: Gavan Nelson
Negative Approach w/ Bad Antics @ The Shred Shed 02.16.13
Alternative Utah came out in droves on Saturday to pay respect to punk legends Negative Approach. Street punks, Crust punks, SHARPs, punk-savvy hipsters, people of all ages (there was a man who clearly into his late 60s dancing at the sidelines), people from every socio-economic stripe packed the Shred Shed en masse for cynical, anti-social hardcore. I'm not sure if the show sold out, but it sure looked like it, all thanks to the promoting monsters at Pyrate Punx SLC. Last week, Keith Morris, lead singer of OFF!, fell into a diabetic coma (which all of us at SLUG wish Morris a speedy recovery). As a result,the tour was canceled and the accompanying bands were without a venue or a show to play. The fellas at SLC Pyrate Punx saved the day by picking up the pieces of the show and promoted the concert in less than a week. Negative Approach hadn't been to you Utah in over 30 years and they weren't letting NA pass us again. So next time you're at the bar and you see someone wearing the Pyrate Punx patch on their jacket, buy them a drink.
The excitement and tension was quite palpable, to the determent of the other performances. Bad Antics, a band from California who is somewhere between thrash metal and Suicidal Tendencies, played an awesome set. At any other show, they would have slayed the crowd, but Salt Lake City wasn't having any of it. The audience jeered them relentlessly, but Bad Antics played on (and good on them for not taking that kind of shit). SLC wasn't looking for thrash punk, they wanted blood. Bad Antics walked off stage and the audience pushed towards the center and the room filled to the brim.
When Negative Approach walked on stage, the crowd came to a roar. John Brannon says “It took us 30 years to get here,” and all hell broke loose. The band opened with “Hypocrite,” a song about authority and perception of legitimate authority. In response, the room broke open like a sore and wept. Half of the concert hall became a circle pit, people climbing on top of each other, waving their fists at Brannon. Brannon, who has a bullish, punch-you-in-the-throat stage presence, pushed back, keeping the dense crowd at bay. Stomping left and right, Brannon snarled and shrieked the lyrics, owning the mic as people tried to take it from him. It was him against the audience, and even with their overwhelming numbers, Brannon held the stage. People pulled and pushed from all directions, grabbing the mic, screaming the lyrics they've known since they learned about punk. It was, without question, the most violent, energetic concert I've ever seen.
The concert came to a crescendo when the band riffed out the beginning of “Tied Down,” my personal favorite. I decided I was going to step into the pit for a few songs. “You made your choice / Now there's no turning back.” I walked up to the rim and saw a street punk accidentally elbow a skinhead in the eye—“Wasting your time / But you just won't face the facts”-- then some 40-something ran headlong into the crowd, connecting into the back on an unsuspecting teen. “Why fool yourself / That you're having fun / When you had your second thoughts.” I'm only 25, I'm young, I can do this. “Why didn't you fucking run?” I'm not sure if I saw blood, but I smelled it, so sorry fair reader, I abstained—I'm just not that cool, and glasses and ER visits aren't cheap. “Tied down / You're on a fucking leash.” I stepped back from the pit and took my previous spot alongside the wall.
The band played most of the songs I knew, some songs I didn't know. Closing the set with “I'll Survive,” a classic example of hardcore punk: hard, under a minute song about being resilient against the oppressive forces that be. Shitty job? Shitty relationship? Shitty world? I'll survive.
Negative Approach walked offstage and the crowd demanded an encore. Shouting “one more song,” still dancing, still moving, “one more song,” the crowd was not denied. “How about two more songs?” said Brannon, the crowd roared in affirmation. I don't remember what they played, but the crowd's intensity peaked. Playing two encore sets, Negative Approach molded the makeup of the room easily. People crowded the stage, the audience as piling human skyscrapers and quickly knocking them down, with the help of three or four strangers, some were flying. It wasn't just the about the music that night—it was about celebrating punk rock in its finest hours. Now, I wasn't there for the early ’80s, but if that is what punk rock was like then, we've got some catching up to do.