By Javier Cabral
The Casualties, Angry Samoans and JFA
House of Blues
Better Than...staying home and getting ready for the first day of school.
What happens when you bring together the most fundamental old school and new school punk rock bands from both the East and West coast? World-class, rebellious fun! And one of the best venue-hosted punk shows I've been to in a while.
The lineup of bands seemed almost too good to be true. But The Casualties are an alternative music force to be reckoned with, often among the first bands a young punk falls in love with. Having them play a show with some of California's top, integral '80s hardcore bands was a great idea. This show had actually been sold out a week prior, but that didn't stop many determined punks from still finding a way to get inside somehow. Everyone seemed to have a soft spot for the New York-born "street punk" band, a style known for its exceptionally fast, loud riffs and raw verbiage.
The night's openers were Death Punch, a contemporary Los Angeles band that teetered on the edge of pop punk/scream-o with their screeching yells and heavy chords. Nonetheless, they got mosh pit-goers going and ready for what was to come next, JFA.
Jodie Foster's Army picked up the previous tempo slack beautifully, jumping right into their thrash-punk, classic crowd pleasers. "Out of School," "Beach Blanket Bongout" -- and of course their neat keyboard-infused cover of the Charlie Brown theme song -- got everyone excited. They also played tracks off of their 2010 release Speed of Sound. "We all gotta fall sometimes. If we don't, then we aren't trying hard enough," said the band's front man, the energetic and jolly Brian Brannon, between songs.
Next up was Angry Samoans. "Metal" Mike Saunders wore a turquoise basketball jersey and a backwards Atlanta Braves baseball cap. The dude was ready to rock. They started their set with "Electrocute Your Cock," establishing their catchy, rhythmic beat. They plowed through their set with tracks like "I'm In Love With Your Mom," "Steak Knife," "They Saved Hitler's Cock" and even spoiled us with a couple of unexpected covers, Black Flag's "Wasted" and Britney Spears' "Hit Me Baby One More Time." I thought it was cool how the original drummer Billy Vockeroth switched duties with Mike for a couple of songs.
Casualties review below.
But everyone was there for The Casualties, and that was immediately apparent as soon as the highly celebrated band walked on stage, and crowd surfing immediately ensued. There were at least five crowd surfers per song for the first half of the set, and then at least ten in the second half. Everyone was singing along, everyone's fist was up in the air, and everyone was just about as happy as they could be. Especially when the band finally allowed their frenzied fans to go on stage and relieve their angst with a delightfully sloppy performance of "Blitzkrieg Bop."
Whether you like them or not, The Casualties are a good band. They are damn fast and play damn hard. Singer Jorge Herrera subliminally instilled kids with constructive affirmations through songs like "Tomorrow Belongs To Us." "Punk and metal, we are all the same, we are all enemies of society," said guitarist Jake Kolatis.
The Casualties played until their spiked hair collapsed under their own sweat. The fans were equally into their new shit just as they were into their old school stuff. For their last song, Herrera asked the pit to get into two opposing sides ("like Braveheart!" he said in his thick Ecuadorian accent) and run into each other at full force when the song "Riot" started its ultra-fast power chord chorus. They did, and the whole floor became one big human pulp. But, yet, there were no immediate fights whatsoever...long live The Casualties!
Personal Bias: I was one of those young punks who fell in love with The Casualties early.
The Crowd: New bloods, seasoned vets, and even a few diehard longhairs
Overheard in the Crowd: "Yeah foo, I just went to my first AA meeting," said by someone drinking a tall cup of frosty beer.
Random Notebook Dump: The bouncers were the friendliest I have ever seen at a punk show, they were passing out ice waters and not snapping on anyone. Oh yeah, also, there were some girls that were making out for five minutes straight in the middle of the pit right before Angry Samoans started playing.
Set list below and a great mosh pit shot below.
On the front line
We are all we have
War is business
Tomorrow belongs to us
Rise + Fall
Looking through bloodshot eyes
Punk rock love
In the tombs
Get off my back
Heart bleeds black
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Made in NYC
4 the punx