Monday, July 23, 2012

Refused & Off! @ Sound Academy

As I grogily dragged my sorry ass into work bright this AM - bones creaking, stomach grumbling, liver working overtime and muscles feeling like they'd been beaten by... well, by a mosh pit - I almost... ALMOST said in my head, "I'm too old for this shit." However, last night was so much fun that even if I would have been 63 and broken a hip, it still would have been worthwhile. Let's start at the beginning. After a wonderful preperatory meal of sausages and duck-fat fries, we strolled on down to cherry street to catch a band that had been nearly 20 years in trying to get to Toronto.

 Opening however, was OFF! - the project of Keith Morris (Circle Jerks, Black Flag), Dimitri Coats (Burning Bridges), Steven McDonald (Redd Kross) and Maria Rubalcaba (Rocket from the Crypt). This was one of the strangest punk shows I'd been to in a while. At the core, the music was true to the roots (especially considering the resume of members), loud, agressive and unrelenting. They were as tight as I think I'd seen nearly any punk band and when I closed my eyes, I could almost feel like I was a teenager sitting in my bedroom, feeling rebellious just for listening to this music. That was part of the weird part; it dawned on me that the bulk of that crowd were all 30 somethings who knew bands like Refused and Circle Jerks from high school and suddenly over a decade later, were reliving their jilted youths. The music was amazing, but there was something odd about the whole scene. Maybe it was just me.

However, after the most epic, 20 minute long anticipatory build up EVER (see below), Refused would take the stage and strip us of age, affiliation and sense of ourselves.  From the moment the first note dropped, their set was simply a series of musical assaults, interspersed with brief moments to catch our breath. The crowd surged and swelled with the drop of every breakdown and the pit seemed to grow with each song.  By the end of the set, you had to be back near the sound booth if you truly wanted to be safe from the insanity.

They played it all.  It was glorious. It was long awaited. It was tight. It was powerful. It was mind-blowing to stop and think that those songs were all written 15 years ago - truly the shape of punk to come.  30 or not, even I couldn't hold back from the pit once I heard the siren-esque intro to New Noise. I joined the sweaty masses and suddenly didn't have the near-feeling of being a teenager, but instead could have been my 16 year old self, losing my mind and moshing along to music that, as far as I was concerned at the time, defined my existence. Then, we heard the glorious violin/cello of Tannhauser/Derive and just like that, it was all over.

Let my bones ache for days and my ears ring forever.

-Boredom Won't Get me Tonight