This year has been one of reunions, and with theirs Swedish experimental punk rockers Refused stirred a bit of commotion from Coachella through last night, which marked the reunited band's first proper show at a Los Angeles club, and their final gig on American soil.
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"When we started the band I was an angry, angry man. When we toured the States in 1996, our goal was to burn your whole fucking country to the ground," vocalist Dennis Lyxzén said with a laugh before admitting a newfound admiration for American fans. "We're so happy to be here with all of you beautiful people."
Each of the band's members performed as if he were still playing sweaty basement shows that were getting broken up by the cops in the late '90s. Lyxzén eccentrically flailed and lunged across the stage, swinging his microphone and kicking its stand as sweat flew from his blond mop of hair.
During their 75-minute-long set, Refused played selections off of 1998's The Shape Of Punk To Come, and 1996's Songs to Fan the Flames of Discontent, and gave us a little surprise by playing a rare tune off The E.P. Compilation. The song was "Circle Pit," and one promptly kicked off.
"There is just something about Los Angeles and San Francisco," the singer said after finishing the song. "You all love circle pits. It must be in your genes or something over here."
Though the charismatic frontman exerted high energy throughout, he lost control during the rowdy song "Refused Are Fucking Dead." About halfway through, he climbed on top of one of the speakers, still clutching the microphone. He screamed into the mic, all the while eying the audience. His devoted fans knew what was coming next -- the lean singer bent over and extended one leg toward the crowd, and then the other, and like magic he was standing on the crowd, his feet being held up vertically by his fans. A girl rose to his level, they high-fived and both fell into the arms of the audience as it guided them back to the stage.
If that was Lyxzén's turn to let loose, with the band's first encore and most popular song, "New Noise." The track's experimental, electro-tinged intro is so distinctive that as soon as the first note buzzed, the audience was at full-throttle. Water bottles flew across the venue, the sea of people writhed as fans moshed and crowd surfed. It was as if this was the audience's way of saying "thank you," to their Swedish heroes before sending them off
By the time the set was over, everyone dripped with sweat and Lyxzén had lost his dapper button-up shirt, vest and ascot, revealing his heavily tattooed torso. He paused at the end of their last song, "Tannhäuser / Derivè," to say a final thank you, and before he and his bandmates exited the stage they stood in the middle and took a bow as the crowd roared.
Personal Bias: I don't mosh anymore, but I'll make an exception for Refused.
The Crowd: Punk rockers old enough to have listened to Refused back in the '90s.
Random Notebook Dump: The band's merch shirts said "Free Pussy Riot."
Set list below
The Shape Of Punk To Come
The Refused Party Program
Rather Be Dead
Summerholidays vs. Punkroutine
The Deadly Rhythm
Hook, Line and Sinker
Protest Song '68
Refused Are Fucking Dead
Life Support Association
Worms of the Senses / Faculties of the Skull
Tannhäuser / Derivè
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