The Power of the Riff Presents: Southern Lord Showcase
Excel, Goatsnake, XIbalba, Obliterations, Baptists, Torch Runner
October 15, 2014
Better Than... getting punched in the mouth with a fistful of battery acid.
For your average workaday shred-head, Wednesday day is always full of those "Hey humpday!" / "Week's half-over!" B.S. coworker-small-talk-platitudes. So a Wednesday night of getting repeatedly kicked squarely in the eardrum by six bands worth of slash-genre metal and hardcore is a welcome relief. And Southern Lord Records did that oh-so-perfectly last night.
Split into two cramped rooms at the questionably-run Los Globos nightclub, six of the metal label's finest acts put forth a nasty display of the genre's many facets. Ripping into the night to start were filthy Greensboro, N.C., grindcorers Torch Runner. The hands-in-their-pockets early arrivals missed a great opportunity to loosen up and thrash around to their full-blown thirty minute assault on the senses.
Vancouver, Canada's Baptists then took to the mainstage for a one-band punk metalcore showcase of their own. While their lead singer exhibited a savage display of frenzied rage — running and slamming through an oddly staid crowd — it's Bapstist drummer Nick Yacyshyn that gets the merit badge for ferocity. There's something primal in his mastery of those bloodthirsty beats. Again, those left standing still or worse yet, sitting down, for their set should be kicking themselves this morning.
At this point, the United Colors of Punk Rock crowd (Morrissey T-shirts? OK. Sure.) was barely breaking a sweat. Which left it to local boys, Obliterations, to take everyone to the next level. Sam James Velde's banshee-on-fire vocals whipped up some semblance of a pit and had casual fans scrambling for the walls. Through his pitch-perfect shrieking, his genuine personality and impish antics were a nice break from the previous, serious-faced frontmen.
"How sad is it that the only people in the front are fucking taking photos?" he snarled. That set a few beefy dudes into a frenzy and it made all the difference. "Fuck is a dirty word, but fucking is the best thing ever," he added as they wrapped up their last song.
Up next: Goatsnake, Xibalba and Excel...
Just as the packed-in denizens of metalcore nation were getting their blood up, they were treated to the dark and throbby drones of Goatsnake. While these guys have had a mess of on-again-off-again antics in their history, they are for all intents and purposes a genre supergroup — and they sure played like one. Like a Sabbath lesson taught by Danzig in a hot-boxed doom cave, Pete Stahl's perfectly disembodied croons floated over a down-tuned fog of dark metal. Stahl, too, made some forays into the crowd, but kept them short. At over an hour of playing time, they were barely wrapping things up at 11:45.
While they throbbed through their latter half of their set, a small crowd at the smaller stage got their dicks shredded off by Pomona's Xibalba. They found the angry medium between brocore and old Converge-style screamo — and they're bilingual to boot.
As we're taking notes before closing act Excel, a thrashed out dude enthusiastically screams into someone's eye socket, "It's gonna get better!" It's almost like he's asking. Is it? The answer? Yes.
Excel's crowd filled out with the mix of young and old that makes this SoCal scene one of the finest anywhere. Old fogeys who had dusted off Suicidal Tendencies vests crammed up next to clean new Beowulf patches on high-schoolers — and sun-faded tattoos pressed next to fresher counterparts. At midnight, Excel busted out an old-school, Westside punk party that didn't stop until well over an hour later. All told, their monumental pit left that mix of youth and age all equally exhausted.
How's your post-humpday now, Bob from Accounting? What's that? We can't hear a goddamn word you're saying. Thanks, Southern Lord.
Personal Bias: None whatsoever.
Overheard in the crowd: The warm fuzz of advanced tinnitus, and nothing, absolutely nothing. Oversmelled in the crowd? Now that's a different story.
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Oversmelled in the crowd: The unmistakable musk of pure metal stoner sweat and bong resin.