Monday, May 18, 2009


Crowd during Unbroken
Swing Kids

So last week I went out to LA for the West Coast Burning Fight show. This is a plan I concocted back in January because I had the money. In the last five months my fortunes have decreased dramatically, so making the trip wasn’t exactly the most financially sound idea (buy some records from me, really, I need the help). But hey, I already had my plane ticket and a ticket for the show, so why back out now?
Regardless, I left the misery of upstate, NY (yeah, it’s still not summer here) for the clear skies and sunny Southern California weather, even if it was just for four days. I had a couple days to hang before the show, so it made for a chance to get some solid hang time in with some ex-East Coast folks who now chose LA as their home turf. Right off the bat, I’d like to extend a gigantic thank you to my pals Vadim Taver, Scott Sprigg, and Luke Muir for the good times they always provide when I’m out in their area. All the new people I met as well provided good times all around.
I had an alternate plan to try and make it out to Lebowski Fest while there, but with no car, and my hosts having little to no interest in this magnificent event I was shit out of luck. All I have to say is they’re a bunch of amateurs. They definitely failed to achieve. And by default, I guess I did too. Mark it zero dude.
Fast forward to the day of the show and we headed out to the Glass House, which was a good 45 minutes (without traffic) away from where we were. Right before we got there though we got pulled over by a cop who must have been bored out of his fucking skull, as he gave Vadim a ticket for driving without CA plates (he still had his old PA ones). I quickly got the impression Pomona is a pretty boring town for criminal activity.
As we walked to the show I quickly began seeing a bunch of faces that I hadn’t either seen in a long time, or totally did not expect to see. Maybe it was because I went to this show with no expectations, and that made the familiar faces all that more surprising to see. There were definitely a few East Coast people I would never have imagined to see, some Seattle kids that warmed my heart, and of course some California people.
I have to point out a couple things as well. It seemed as if a lot of people went to this and not the Chicago Burning Fight show because they wanted to see Undertow. I was in that group. Secondly, it seemed that people were there to have an honestly good time, go crazy, and have fun. It wasn’t like some scenster reunion, or old hardcore dude back-patting festival. It just felt like a really good, huge hardcore show that was a lot of fun. No more, no less. And while I wasn’t necessarily into all the bands that played the ones I did come to see were amazing.
So as far as the show goes, the short-lived Festival Of Dead Deer opened up and were OK. Nothing really special, but then again, they weren’t all that special while they were around either.
Threadbare played next and I was incredibly stoked. The one time they came through Syracuse I couldn’t make it. It might have been my high school graduation, who knows. All I know is that I’ve spent the last 14 years pissed about it. So I finally get to see them and they were probably the most solid-sounding band of the night. They played so tight, so on point, and so forceful. Brian Lovro has one of the best screams I’ve ever heard and it was awesome to see that he still had it down perfect. Songs like “In Error”, “Midas” and especially “Weatherman” were so validating and everything I had hoped for. The closer, "Penicilin" made for a good note to end on with Lovro screaming out "knife into my brain!" over and over. I caught the singer a couple hours later walking down the street and mentioned how happy I was to see them. To my surprise he was smoking, which made me wonder how he still could belt out songs the way he did. Who knows, maybe he’s immune to cancer or something.
Portraits Of Past followed and for most of it I attempted to catch up with old friends. No offense, they were cool, just not totally my thing.
Then it was time for Undertow. I’d been waiting forever for this. Undertow played the first show I ever went to, strangely enough as they’re a Seattle band and it was in Syracuse. It was also the last time I ever saw them. But they made an incredible impression on me ever since that day and I was glad to say they still kicked the shit out of me. Their songs, in retrospect, are nothing groundbreaking, but they’re just incredible in a basic hardcore sort of way. The sounded loud, noisy, chaotic, but still straightforward. John Pettibone spent more time in the crowd than he did onstage and it looked as if the whole band were honestly having a great time, and not playing up some tired hardcore reunion bit, waiting for the paycheck at the end of the show. “Taken”, “At Both Ends”, “Cedar”, “Control”, “Delusion” and ending (obviously) with “Cutting Away” they definitely stole the show. If you take a look at the pictures you’ll see there aren’t any of Undertow. You know why? Because I was too busy moshing.
Swing Kids followed that up and I was kind of wondering how they would go over. I always liked a few of their songs, but never saw them so I guess it was a bit of a bonus just to see what they could do. My impressions are that Justin Pearson still seems about as pretentious as they get, their drummer really got into it a little too much, and most of the crowd seemed mildly interested.
Finally, Unbroken closed things out. I always liked Unbroken, but I wasn’t a fanatic like many people I know. They were also another band that I happened to miss somehow every time they played Syracuse. I’m pretty sure I was even at one of the shows they played here and just didn’t pay attention for some reason. Either way, everyone was obviously psyched for them and I just found a nice little spot to stand where I could see everything and not get killed. The whole set was just a mass of finger-pointing, crowd-surfing energy. They opened with “Blanket” and closed with “Absentee Debate”. I was waiting to get crushed by the sound of that ending, but about two measures in Rob Moran just dropped his bass and freaked out or something. It sort of took away from the energy of what is arguably one of the best breakdowns of all time (OK, top 10 anyway). Meh, not a big deal. I had fun and got to finally see some bands that I really cared about and either never saw, or hadn’t seen in way too long. I can leave satisfied.
Sweaty and sore we trekked back to Huntington Beach and stopped at a Del Taco on the way. All I have to say is I never thought I’d be eating tacos with a guy from Throwdown. It was sort of weird in a ‘I know I’m not supposed to like you, but you’re an A-OK dude’ kind of way.
On the last day in LA I kind of bullshitted around mostly. We went to this record store in Long Beach that I’m fond of and it turned out that acoustic dude Iron and Wine was giving a free in-store show. I’m not a fan or anything, but it was kind of neat to see this dude playing to a small crowd and then just hanging around afterwards. Afterwards we hit up this great vegan restaurant called Native Foods, which I’d been to once before, but it was still nice. Waiting at the airport later on, this massive city of terminals, who should be at the gate across from me but that Iron and Wine dude. That was sort of peculiar.
By the next morning I was back in Syracuse and it was definitely warmer than when I had left. That’s a good feeling.


Barrie said...

Good write-up Ryan, especially because all I've seen is stuff about the Chicago show.

That's random too that Vadim lives in LA now, I had no idea, haven't seen that dude since probably around the time of This Day Forward's last shows. He's always been a good dude, and good to hear he's doing well.

The Iron and Wine guy story is funny, and I have a similar one (not about him though). I remember I watched Matt and Kim at the Fest in 2007, again just because I was there and it was something to do, and it was a fun set. Then the two of them ended up on the same plane as me back to New York the next day, across the aisle no less. Go figure.

Anyway, good read.

Jose said...

"Swing Kids followed that up and I was kind of wondering how they would go over. I always liked a few of their songs, but never saw them so I guess it was a bit of a bonus just to see what they could do. My impressions are that Justin Pearson still seems about as pretentious as they get, their drummer really got into it a little too much, and most of the crowd seemed mildly interested."

justin still pretentious? and who the fuck are you? jk.

the drummer "really got into it a little too much"?
oh, i didn't know you also wrote for modern drummer, cabron.

jose palafox

potatojustice said...

funny ryans white and thinks you were calling him carbon and just spelled it wrong. i'll explain it when i get back guey. the justin thing was funny too if he was wind milling that shit ryan would be down as fuck 315 putos