Posted by: Addison – Aug 06, 2012
It was a good night to be at Strange Matter; the weather wasn’t suffocatingly hot, and it was crowded, but not packed to the point of inducing claustrophobic fear. On this calm and breezy night of Wednesday, July 25th, five very unique hardcore bands graced the Smatter stage, each bringing something very different to the table, and making hanging out for the entire night quite bearable.
First up was Zoloa, whom I knew nothing about. These dudes are Hispanic and from L.A., and they all donned ski masks and had a very gore-grindish sound, reminiscent of Machetazo. They thrashed out pretty hard on some powerviolence-inspired, groovy, grindy d-beat, but they kind of lost the entire crowd after a while with their lack of originality. Although they could certainly keep a steady beat, they never seemed to stray from the same three riffs, and even the most die-hard d-beaters in the crowd got tired of fist-pumping after a while. Also, the bassist sung almost the entire time, and the ‘singer’ just kneeled next to the band and headbanged, only joining in for one song. When he did, his voice was rippin’, but it was a little awkward that he came all the way from L.A. just to sing a sixty-second powerviolence song and then go back to crouching by the amps.
Next came Lost Tribe, whom I had heard a ton about but never actually seen live. I was a bit skeptical, as I’ve been disappointed in the past by bands in Richmond that get a ton of hype, but fail to actually deliver because they know their reputation will carry them. This was not the case with Lost Tribe. JK kills it on keyboards, and Shravan is an awesome bassist. Everyone compares them to Christian Death, but I hear so much late Damned and Public Image Limited in their sound, and I love it. And Davey is a great front man with cool vocals and a good look, but the band is in no way skin deep, everyone in it can play. I’m a sucker for 80’s style synths mixed with extremely groovy, deep basslines, and I’m a sucker for fog machines. They definitely delivered on both fronts.
Then Unholy Thoughts took the stage. I love Unholy Thoughts, they play hardcore in a way that is almost rock n’ roll grindcore. They have written some new stuff that absolutely slays, its heavy as hell, but almost dancy. The one thing I will say is that it is somewhat weird for me to see Kenny Ball as a bassist. I’ve been seeing him play live since high school when I would drive to Richmond to catch Government Warning shows, and his stage presence just kind of commands the audience's attention (not to mention the fact that he’s a giant dude). The result was that he somewhat overshadowed their singer. Still, their performance was solid, and I’m in no way knocking the singer, he isn’t super punk-looking and seems really quiet but then has a killer voice, which is awesome and definitely sets them apart.
I will confess to being a bit distracted during Double Negative’s set. I think someone bought me a beer or I went outside for a minute; it was getting to be the end of the night and I was too broke to afford beer, coffee, or taquitos, so I was losing steam. Still, they didn’t do much to wow or amaze me. They definitely sounded solid--they were fast and heavy and tight and it sounded like they had been playing together for years, but it didn’t really sound like they were bringing anything super-new to the table. Maybe it was just the uniqueness of the first three bands and how incredible Iceage were, but Double Negative didn’t completely blow me away. Still, they were talented and solid musicians, and this is coming from someone who discovered hardcore after loving metal and early punk--I’m by no means an expert on the hardcore greats.
Then came Iceage. I’d never heard them before, and they completely ruled. I haven’t been that wowed by a band in a while, and I’m cursing the fact that all my technological devices are broken so I can’t acquire their entire body of work. They play fast and heavy, gothy hardcore with incredible, bittersweet vocals reminiscent of post-punk. Their singer sort of has this angelic radiance to him, and his voice is amazing. Their melody and weirdness totally sounds like something that would come from Denmark, and they were the perfect ending to a night of amazing, mind-blowing hardcore that breaks the mold. My only regret is being too broke to buy any merch and leaving before their last song because I was insanely tired. Still, it was a great night, and I’d gladly see all those bands again.
Words By Addison Herron-Wheeler
Top image by Alberte Karrebaek
Unholy Thoughts photo by Tony Lynch
Other photos from internet [our correspondent took photos at the show but was unable to download them from her camera's memory card -ed.]