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Pulling up rather late to the Subterranean, fighting off the cold-death-rain as I ran from the ATM around the corner, I was over joyed by being inside. I handed my ID to door guy, followed by ten bucks and ran up the stairs, hearing the last few notes of Big Knife’s set. This was my second biggest regret of the night. My first being that I missed the opening band, Duress‘ set.
Fronted by local zinester and defender of the stage dive, Matt Rolland (Mindless Mutant zine), Duress features current members of other local straight edge bands One Foot in the Grave and Poison Planet. Duress brings a fast, abrasive and short brand of hardcore to the party, which sits somewhere between Minor Threat and SS Decontrol.
Getting their start by handing out demo tapes at local hardcore shows, they’ve built their own mini hype machine on the local hardcore message board, along side regular shows around the Chicago and Northwest Indiana area. I was disappointed that I missed their set, but being a local band, I’m sure I’ll cross paths with them in the near future.
You can download their demo for free at the Myspace profile.
Chicago’s Big Knife, who describe themselves as “the new wave of Hell Yeah Metal,” play thrashy lo-fi alcohol fueled garage punk with heavy elements of stoner rock and healthy doses of New Wave of British Heavy Metal thrown in for flavor. Beyond hearing the songs on their Myspace, I honestly don’t know much about them, which adds to the sadness of catching the last few chords of their set.
No Slogan, hailing from Chicago’s south side hit the stage third. These Chicago punk veterans have been heavily active in the Southkore records scene, as well as socially active in the Pilsen and Little Village communities. Their style of socio-political punk rock brings to mind the sound of classic Chicago punks such as the Bhopal Stiffs and the Effigies, while their punk rock ethics come straight out of the DIY scene.
I’ve seen No Slogan more times than I can honestly remember and over the last two years, they’ve been getting consistently better. Where their first two 7” were good, their latest album, Aversion Therapy (Residue Records) ups the bar quite a bit. Their set last night was honestly the best I’ve ever seen them play. Fast, tight, aggressive and completely in sync with one another.
Hjertestop, from Copenhagen, Denmark took the stage next. Their sound is similar to the obscure sounds found on the classic Killed By Death compilations. With a definite slant towards European squatter punk and an obvious early 80’s East Bay vibe propelling them, Hjertestop manage to create a sound that’s familiar, yet unique. Their set was fun and high energy, in a way that only a Euro-punk band can execute. The band is made up of ex-members of the Young Wasterners and Incontrollados and their sound is equally reminiscent of both bands. They execute with early 80’s street punk smarts, skillful knowledge of their instruments and a friendly tip of the hat to their influences.
Hjertestop will be returning to Chicago on May 2nd with Crude, Unit 21 and Closing in at the Beat Kitchen. Catch them while they’re still state side.
Last up was Masshysteri, who features ex-members of International Noise Conspiracy, the Viscous, the Regulations and countless other Swedish punk bands. Masshysteri seemingly draws influence from early 80’s punk bands such as the Avengers and the Mutants, while tying in aspects of American garage rock and hints of the arty early Los Angeles punk bands such as the Weridos and X.
The set was a lot shorter than I expected, but covered a great deal of ground, including ending the show with a cover of the Chuck Berry classic, Johnny B. Goode, sparking the most dancing of the entire night. Most of the songs were executing at slightly below break neck speed, with clean almost jangly guitars acting as the motor that propelled the simple, yet effective drumming. The way the guitar tones played off of one another almost made me think that I heard a keyboard, even though there was a definite absence of keys.
Masshysteri reminds me of everything that I like about early 80’s punk without sounding like a nostalgia act. They borrow enough from their influences to keep things sounding familiar and rooted within the scene, but still manage to make things interesting by combining well executing male/female vocals with well written, high energy guitar playing. This all seems to be evidence that the members of this band took away some important positive aspects from their previous bands. They have a solid understanding that good musicianship can be executing effectively by keeping things simple and that over complicating things isn’t always necessary. They also give their style of punk some hips, allowing it to be as equally dancable as it is welcoming of the pogo.
Masshysteri’s full length LP, which is available stateside via Feral Ward records ([url=http://www.feralward.com/home.html]http://www.feralward.com/home.html[/url]), is a well produced piece of punk rock, without sounding glossy and still manages to capture the vibe and energy of their live performance. Unfortunately, Masshysteri will not be returning to Chicago on this tour, so you’ll have to just take my word for it and give the LP a few spins while stage diving from your bed. The only other option would be a trip to Sweden.
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