Xibalba @ Foursquare Church 3.9.12 with Take Offense, Soul Search, Sagat and Mouthrunner

Posted March 12, 2012 in
Have you ever moshed at a church? Like, for-real moshed? Like, Sick of it All in Beavis and Butt-head's living room moshed? Like the cover of Break Down the Walls moshed? Not talking no "I pogoed to Relient K at Christian Youth Camp then bounced to the woods to smoke weed and repress painful sexual experiences with trusted religious officials" kinda moshed. No I'm not talking about that. Wait … Why would I even bring that up?

Anyway, shows (and moshing) are prone to go down at the Foursquare Church, which I back because Foursquare is suburbia's dopest summer game and regular church is reeeally boring. If I can worship Big Guy in the sky while playing my neighborhood's illest pastime, I'll take it over singing and suppressing masturbatory urges to beat people bloody and senseless with chunks of rebar. Ooof.

First up was Mouthrunner. Yeah, that's their name (I'm trying to be snarky and coming up empty). Local guys who, besides having a Nuclear Assault riff in one of the cuts, fail to move me. I fully expected hordes of priveleged ex-Mormons to use 'em as their soundtrack to get hard and hit stuff, and maybe the gym stage made it awkward, but regardless of the singer's urging for everyone to move up, the ol' "horseshoe" stayed in place (thanx Dave Byrd, Striking Distance RIP). They're a new band that play HC the way that Salt Lake City devours it (tuneless ’90s chug-core worship) with a bunch of open note breakdowns, but folks didn't get moving til the last song. Maybe friends going off? I dunno. Not doggin' em because they definitely weren't sloppy and they've even recorded some stuff … Just not my thing, and it didn't seem to translate too well to others in that gym.

Don't get me wrong, despite the size and makeup of the church cultural hall, the sound wasn't bad. Quell your visions of eigth grade seeing Rat Salad stumble through piecemeal covers of "Lord of this World" in the school auditorium, stopping occasionally to let the anxious acne clad singer wipe vomit from the lappels of his Boy Scout shirt and … Wait … Why am I even talking about that?

Sagat's a temporary name, but one the second band adopted so they could be on the flyer. The singer, a lanky lad well over 6-foot-5, said it's a reference to the best Street Fighter character (absolutely true … Dude's got a reach), but dubious crowdgoers started chanting "Bob Saget! Bob Saget!" at this assertion (Danny Tanner, RIP). Whatever. Sagat sports some respected Utah alumni (dudes from Gaza, Reviver and Parallax) and the jams were air-tight. They opted to set up on the floor and the bassist stepped on my foot like twice (he apologized, though). The sound was thick as lead, like "this is throwing the Earth's rotation at every downstroke" heavy, and the singer totally aped that Vic DiCara "hand up, palm out, screaming till I burst a blood vessel" thing. He even flipped the bird … in a church. Dope. Drummer wore a Torche shirt and hit so hard (some serious octopus arm shit) his kit kept sliding forward. The reaction wasn't bonkers, but heads banged, and if that's not a compliment, then what is? I'll never tire of nimble-necked longhairs tossing their manes, grimacing at the discomfort of playing in a church. Look out because this band has potential.

Now, I need to mention the makeshift dividers surrounding the perimeter of the gym. Nothing super sturdy-looking, but enough to create some visual distinction and to keep the sound from bleeding into the Sunday School classrooms. Remember when a toddler was killed by a falling divider at an LDS church in Virginia and then they outlawed 'em? (Dancing is next. I've seen Footloose, dawg). I do. I met a dude from that ward once. He had a cleft lip and couldn't pronounce the word "specific" without … Oh, I shouldn't be telling you this.

In reality, Soul Search excited me most in the lineup. Sure, I'm as sick of all this Biohazard-worshippin', "we live on golf courses but think we're hard" tomfoolery as the next guy with a brain (don't misunderstand me, Urban Discipline is an undisputed classic), but Soul Search back it up with some off-kilter groove that pays homage to some of the lower-tier, less-celebrated NYHC bands à la Altercation, Krakdown, Confusion, Dmize and Fit of Anger … You know, New Breed tape stuff (If you've never heard the New Breed tape, you should cop it, get rid of that xREPRESENTx shirt and stop being a Turkey. No poseurs allowed). Plus "Burning" is a banger and one of the heaviest songs I've heard all year. The band took the stage (guess they didn't want a sliding drum kit) and their shirt variety was next-level. Drummer wearing a GISM Tee and a guitarist decked in an OG Wu-Wear pullover. Tight. So they start, and I'm feeling it in my loins enough to start going haywire. Mosh is high, kids are slammin' and even clambering on the stage, and I follow suit only to have some jabroni grab my shoulder and rip my Free Spirit Tee right on the seam. Super bummed. I won't get all whiny, but it took the wind out of my sails for the rest of the set. They still killed, though, tearing though "Burning," some EP tracks and a new track slated for the America's HC Pt. 2 comp. I moshed like a goofball, slam-skank cookie-dusters and despite the dorkwads spinkicking in the middle I busted it clean (big ups to The Infamous Dog for being a one man wrecking crew, judo-kicking off the stage, the dude moshing in carpenter khakis and Chris for never once taking off his hoodie despite the heat). I was impressed enough to pick up their new 7" on Triple B and feel awesome about it. (It still baffles me that bands have a hard time getting rid of records and not shirts, but I'm the one jabberjawing over a sullied tee, so I should just shut up).

Outside, people were gathered and chatting each other up. I saw a grip of older-looking guys (older than 30 is old) talking about their lives and trying to justify being at a hardcore show with a bunch of kids (I back it). Reminds me of how I once met a guy who played guitar in 25 ta Life … He washed my car, kept saying "yo" and seemed thoroughly disappointed that I wasn't as into his crappy band as he was. Actually, it was downright excruciating … and, honestly, it has nothing to do with this at all. Why am I even talking about it? Is this some kind of adolescent memory dump?

Take Offense impresses me every time (if you can steal away from isanyoneup.com for a second peep what I said about 'em when they played a teen rec center in Bluffdale). Coolest aesthetic too, cholo style artwork and two tall skinheads on guitars. The best thing about 'em is their seamless adoption of noodly bay area thrash into their stompy hardcore stew, and the riffs were on point tonight. A few references to the "T.O. Zone" might make some people squirm, but in the vein of burly crossover, Suicidal-via-Best-Wishes-era 'Mags stuff that'll elicit a circle pit or two, Take Offense has it dialed. Some of the newer songs have some clean vocal parts which I worried about in the live setting, but they proved crowd favorites. Reaper bands often get a lot of (undue) hype (Forfeit anyone?), but Take Offense backs it with something original and mean. Tonight's set was the best they've played here so far.

Now Xibalba (which I just learned is actually pronounced "She-balba," not like the Star Wars character from the Phantom Menace) is a band I was only casually interested in (though I'd seen 'em in Philadelphia to a wicked crowd reaction) but their recent signing to Southern Lord has my interest piqued high, because as far as I can tell, it's the label's first real foray into signing anything to do with hardcore. Sludgy guitar tones can be the great punk-metal equalizers though, so developments will be solid.

On a visual level, the band hearkens back to some of the most elite killing machines this genre's ever offered. Call me a dingus but when I see hard-ass dudes from California, tattooed to the gills and using Merauder's "Life is Pain" to tune, I take interest. Additionally, lots of older guys were flocking inside to watch, and the development intrigued me. I didn't realize the band was so popular here until I learned that Xibalba's relationship with SLC is quite tender. This was the first place they'd ever played outside their California hometown and they name dropped some of Salty Lake's favorite bands of the past few years (Cool Your Jets and Reflect … and though I'm not a fan of either, I like knowing they had a following. How come no one talks about Insight, though?). Obviously, the mosh was hard, belligerent and even a little bit stupid, but seeing youngsters and old dudes getting down warmed my black heart just a titch. The new song from the Incendiary split got a good reaction, "Salvation" almost brought the house down (literally … The makeshift dividers almost fell over) and the "fuck racism, fuck Nazis" speech gets wild approval from me. Good gravy. I even got blood on my shirt cutting my hand, mic-grabbing (ewww!). Reminds me of the time I went hiking, sliced my finger on a hatchet and closed the wound with spearmint dental floss … but you don't care about that. (Wait, do you?).

The band seemed elated, showed love for the city and in return, the city loves em back. I genuinely hope kids left that church with some records in hand (all three touring bands had brand new records out) and not just T-shirts they're gonna flip on EBay. I love getting my dork-rocks off and washing blood off my shirt in church bathroom seemed a fitting ending for my day (word to the wise, cold water lifts that stuff right out). I got a few bewildered looks because of my pen and notebook and one dude quizzically asked what I was writing for. I told him it was Spin Magazine, to which he snorted. Blood on my shirt, shoulder ripped to shreds, lying in a consecrated place … Strike me down and let hardcore take the wheel. (Why do I talk about shirts so much?)