Key: (JG: Jeff Greenback)(RK: Rich Kroneiss)(SB: Steve Strange)(TK: Todd Trickknee)(MTC: Matt Coppens)

Sweet Faces/Skip Jensen/Birthday Suits/Demon's Claws @ Big V's, 5/4/04
Sweet Faces were up first, as always, and were really great, as always. They played a few new songs on this night, and were of the quality you'd expect from the guy behind the Fevers. Someone needs to put out a single. Skip Jensen took the stage after the Sweet Faces. His feet were the only thing that was shakin' for the duration of his too-long set. Maybe he needs a washboard to really make himself stand out among the OMB pack. BBQ this wasn't.Birthday Suits are a two-piece band featuring Hideo and Matthew from Sweet J.A.P. This was their first ever show, and if it was any indication of what's to come, we should expect great things from these guys. Highlights were a killer Guitar Wolf cover and Hideo jumping up onto a counter next to the bar for their last song. They're playing the daytime show on Saturday over Blackout weekend, so those of you who are going to be in town should definitely check them out. Headlining the night's festivities were the Greg Cartwright's new favorite band, the Demons Claws. They opened with a non-ironic cover of "Sweet Home Alabama." I left before they went into the next song.(SB)

PITTSBURGH HARDCORE BLOWOUT SATURDAY NIGHT: Fucked Up, Career Suicide, Caustic Christ, Pissed Jeans, and more...April 16, 2005
News of this mega-show spread quickly throughout the local hardcore underground, and I just happened to be paying attention long enough for me to decide to head for Pittsburgh be a part of it. I had been meaning to get down there one of these days to hang out with some friends, and this was the perfect excuse. I rolled into town and met up with my pal Mac Apples at a little joint called Dee's Cafe where the beer was cheap and they had one of the most extraordinary jukeboxes ever. This thing had some insanely cool (and some insanely rare) records in it: Halo of Flies, Dicks, Black Flag, Bad Brains, and tons more. Not a single dud. Regrettably, the thing wasn't plugged in, but the records in it were worth far more than the machine itself should any enterprising collector be looking for some sleeveless records. So, pounded a draft and went to pick up our accomplices Rad Radford and Jay and a 30 pack of PBR and head to the first show. It was at a joint called The Roboto Project, one of those punk community venues you're probably familiar with: old storefront in a really bad neighborhood, members pay dues to keep it going, all ages, no alcohol, with everyone really into the "scene" and such. The place was packed and stinking. The line-up for the afternoon (it was a 6:00 pm start-up) was Brain Handle, Violent Minds, Wound Up, locals Caustic Christ, Fucked Up, and Career Suicide, not necessarily in that order.I think we missed everybody except the last three bands. We spent the duration of the other bands sets drinking beers in the parking lot, getting hassled by young punks asking how long we'd been "in the scene" because our drinking was somehow doing it harm, watching punks with mohawks and studs play frisbee, buying records from my fellow Strunker Jesse (one of the only people I know who has an entire sub-genre named after them: jessecore), and watching Apples and Radford bust spokes. A real good time, in other words. So anyway, we wander in sometime during Caustic Christ, who I didn't have high hopes for since I thought Aus Rotten sucked it. To get to the bathroom in the basement you had to basically walk through the band, so I ended up being posted up right behind the guitar player for a good portion of the set. And they really killed it. Old dudes playing hardcore, and playing it better than most younger bands I've seen. But, hey, I'm no authority on hardcore, so what do I know. I thought they were great. Career Suicide were next, and they fucking killed. This was actually the first time I'd seen them, and they were even better than the records. I was front and center fulfilling my big-guy-in-the-pit obligation of serving as a launching pad for smaller bodied crowd divers. Radford got off a few good ones, and the stench of adolescent hardcore sweat was tear inducing. This was my first hadrcore show in a lot of years, and it was just as awesome as I remembered it being in my youth. I think I aged backward a few years just by my participation. CS were tight, inciting the crowd to a well behaved froth, and their singer was just incredible. I went into this thinking Fucked Up were the better band, and left knowing Career Suicide owned them. Fucked Up were good and all, but I don't think they in any way captured the essence of classic hardcore they way CS did. I performed a brief search for a secret Fucked Up merch table where I thought they may be selling some secret records, but found no evidence of one existing. I did get the latest CS 12", regreattably not a Japanese tour edition though. We left the parking lot with an empty thirty pack.
The next show was at a place called Modern Formations, which was an art gallery serving as a show space, where Pissed Jeans, Air Conditioning, and Pearls and Brass were playing. But first we stopped at Pitt landmark eatery O's, where we consumed some awesome hot dogs (two with bacon and cheese for me), a pizza, and an order of fries that could feed a third world nation. So incredible I wish I had pictures. So we get to the gallery/showspace and spend some time hanging out front with the kids and worked on a 30 pack of Iron City. Lots of kids drinking iced tea, I performed an impromptu "my t-shirt is more obscure than yours" contest amongst the youth, met Radford and Apples' wrestling fanboy pal Rich (who does a great Ric Flair), and generally soaked in the "scene". Air Conditioning and Pearls and Brass basically fit the description of "cling-clangy" music I hear people using these days. Their drone was having an adverse effect on my newly regained youthfulness so I skipped out on their sets. Pissed Jeans, however, were well worth the three hour drive. Their single and demos have been getting some serious airplay at TB HQ, and I was expecting some serious noise and weirdness. They definitley delivered. The singer was weird enough for everyone (I do believe he's the dude behind White Denim Records), and he Iggy-ed and Lux-ed and convulsed and contorted and spazzed out for the duration of their way-too-short-set. Fuck, talk about leaving them wanting more. I would drive anywhere anytime to see these guys, and you'd be wise to do the same. The first tune was about five minutes of them pummeling the shit out of one chord, which belied their normal looking college kids appearance. They were loud, aggressive, and just the shit in general. The singer took the stage as a normal dude, and as he stripped off his shirt and mumbled some shit about drinking the pretty girls' bath water you knew things were taking a wrong turn. More jaded critical fucks would pooh-pooh his stage antics, but I thought it was some serious entertainment, and what I expect to get when I shell out cash and drive to another state for a show. My only regret was that they didn't play "Night Minutes". See them if you have any sort of chance.
Capping off the evening was a house party/basement show at a place called Joe Hammer Square, which has to be the coolest name for a street ever. Caustic Christ, Fucked Up, and Career Suicide were playing all-cover sets. The basement was jam-packed, and you couldn't see shit, but it was still awesome. Raging even. It was fun to be at a basement hardcore show, and even funner trying to figure out what songs they playing. I remember CC doing "Hate the Police", "Just to get Away", some Minor Threat and Flag, a lot more I didn't recognize or forgot, and a Reagan Youth tune! CS pulled out "Beef Baloney", "Police" by Fucked Up, "The Todd Killings", Circle Jerks, "Fix Me", and others. Fucked Up did a Career Suicide cover, "Just to Get Away" (at least hardcore kids love Poison Idea as much as I do), "Nervous Breakdown", and more. I learned after the fact they did Nubs and Comes covers, which is awesome, and I swear to God I heard them play some of that Kelly Clarkson song I secretly like, which was apparently true. Best basement show I've ever been at (which is a pretty short list), and it sounded pretty good for the situation. Lots of fucked up kids singing along. Listening to all these songs being played I waxed philosophical in my head about how all "punks" consider these tunes as their starting point, and then comes that point where you either start buying Gauze records or start listening to the New Bomb Turks. Or sometimes both. The punk foundation laid down by Killed by Death and hardcore leads you down many different paths. Were the Dicks a hardcore band or a punk band? Who the fuck cares. The party raged on long after the bands were done. The cops came a few times, I got spotlighted by an officer while pissing in the backyard, Radford shot a roman candle out of his ass, drank a lot more Iron City, attempted to crash what someone said was a frat party across the street, watched Apples hold court with his fan club, witnessed Radford totally bend the spokes of the hottest chick at the party, and even saw someone wearing an Electric Deads t-shirt. An incredible evening. Want to feel ten years younger? Go see some hardcore shows and be a part of the "scene", even if it isn't in your own town. Pittsburgh, I love you. (RK)

Birthday Suits pic by Steve Strange
Pittsburgh pics by Chuck Barrels