One Way System with Mass Terror, All Systems Fail, Desolate, Discoid A @ The Salt Haus 04.08

Posted April 15, 2013 in

One Way System frontman Jay Susel kept the crowd of punks all riled up throughout their set. Photo: Frank Carroll

For most of Salt Lake City, Monday night was a cold, wet and somewhat snowy night—one last night (hopefully) for hot cocoa, sweaters and watching that Magic School Bus box set you mom got you in December. Those of us foolishly brave enough to venture out to the Salt Haus got a quite the treat. Hosted by the Pyrate Punx SLC, the bands Discoid A, Desolate, All Systems Fail, Mass Terror and One Way System played quite the show. Unfortunately, I missed Discoid A, but I got to hear the last half of Desolate’s set, who’re pretty thrashy—think Megadeath, but with a punk edge or The Accused. I hope to catch them at another show because to give a better assessment. Before I go on to the two main acts, I want to highlight a local band that, after their performance, turned me into a super-fan: All Systems Fail. 

Somehow, I've managed to miss out on years and years of this band. Fronted by vocalist Jorge Arellano, this band packs a political and sociological wallop with songs about the military industrial complex, disenfranchisement and revolution, clumped into two- to three-minute songs. Thrashy guitars with duel vocals and fervent bass, this band reinforced my long-held belief that Utah has one of the most accomplished and overlooked scenes out there. If you are even remotely interested in hardcore punk or (to a lesser extent) sludge metal, I suggest you look these guys up.
All Systems Fail walked offstage, and the audience crouched closer to the stage in preparation for the ceremonial circle pit. Mass Terror, a hard and fast street punk band from LA, took the stage. To start out, these guys look pretty intimidating. They're not your typical 5-foot 11, 160-pound punk rock squirts—these guys were easily the size of two punks with the strength of five. Thorr Viernes, the vocalist, hulks the stage and dominates over the more aggressive audience members à la young Henry Rollins or John Brannon. He even actively participated in the circle pit, something you don't see often. Running, keeping pace with the crowd, Viernes never lets up or slows down. Mass Terror's sound lay somewhere between Motörhead and Discharge—harsh, guttural vocals and screaming guitars slayed over D-beat drums. The crowd swirled and heaved with particular passion to the tunes “Fuck the Cops” and “California Burning,” both songs played at finger-splitting speeds. Sweat and thick saliva blotted the stage by the time they finished their set.
Formed in 1979 in Lancashire, UK, One Way System is one of the more well-recognized street punk bands of the early '80s, and even though the group has been playing on and off for three decades, they'd never made it to Utah until Monday night. Not only do they shred and riot, they're one of the friendlier bands I've seen—both before and after the show, they talked to fans, shook their hands, etc. Forget that they had a show in San Francisco the next night—they took the time to talk, sign shit and I'm a sucker for bands that care about their fans.
Now, prior to a month ago, I wasn't too familiar with One Way System. I had heard of them, but they were on my list of bands I needed to get into/educated myself on (yes, this is a physical, handwritten list). I studied and became familiar as the month progressed and like with most punk legends I come across, I quickly loved them. They're fast, crass and working class, fans of The Oppressed and the UK Subs would be advised to seek their music out. Playing for almost two hours straight, a large portion of the audience, including myself, were tired and bruised by the closing set, nothing but panting puddles of human filth and steam. Between songs, the band tried to communicate with the audience, but I didn't pick up a damn word. It could have been their thick, Northern English accents, the fact they were talking fast and out of breath or that they talked really close to the mic. It didn't matter because we all knew the songs anyway. Jay Susel bellowed the lyrics to the frenzied front line, giving them the mic to share the songs. Closing with their most known song, “Stab the Judge,” Susel barely had the sing at all: There were enough audience members to do it for him—what a beautiful thing to see. Sure there was an encore, and yes, I finally got back in the circle pit (which was a small victory on my part), but I'm going to keep that happy memory to myself.
One Way System frontman Jay Susel kept the crowd of punks all riled up throughout their set. Photo: Frank Carroll Once One Way System got to "Stab the Judge," vocalist Jay Susel barely even needed the mic, as the crowd took over on lyric-delivery duty. Photo: Frank Carroll