SummerGrind at Gothic Theatre, 9/1/12
Tom Murphy Leftöver Crack
SUMMERGRIND FESTIVAL @ GOTHIC THEATRE | 9/1/12
The final performance on the outdoor stage was moved inside the Gothic Theatre -- presumably due to volume complaints -- which pushed the night's lineup back an hour, but this did nothing to dampen the enthusiasm for Leftöver Crack. Early in the set, Stza (aka Scott Sturgeon) dedicated a song in semi-reference to the reason the show was running late. "This one goes out to the Denver pigs," he announced. "It's called 'One Dead Cop.'" The entire area on the floor in front of the stage seethed with people surging forward and back and singing along, arms pumping and waving overhead.
Tom Murphy Leftöver Crack at The Gothic Theatre
Stza's part-singing, part-snarling, part-screaming (in varying degrees to suit any part of any song) worked well with this music, which itself wove together the underlying threads of unity between hardcore and ska and whatever it was you'd want to call Crass. The music resonated so strongly that Stza didn't have to sing many of the words when he held the mike to the audience, as everybody knew the songs. Stza even complimented the crowd on how probably people there this night would get "Gay Rude Boys Unite" and said it was about unity in general and not just of sexual orientation, race or any other specific category.
About halfway through the set, Stza said one of his best friends ever was from Colorado, a Nick Philips, and it was to Nick that he dedicated "Ya Can't Go Home." For the choruses the crowd surged forward even stronger than before to join in with the singing. The set would have ended with "Crack Rock City," but the incredibly amped crowd got the band back on stage for a couple of more songs to end a night of unexpectedly strong performances and seemingly general good will.
Tom Murphy King Rat at The Gothic Theatre
It was an ideal capper to SummerGrind, a day that started off for us by catching King Rat at the Gothic. Anyone who has been to more punk shows than some narrow subset of that subset of underground music for more than a decade has probably seen King Rat at least once. For this show, it wasn't the roots rock punk of ten years ago, rather, it was kind of an embrace of a gritty melodic hardcore that was very much part of that band's best material. But whatever material these guys would have played, they played with an intensity and energy that sure made it seem like they hadn't been at this since the mid-'90s or longer. For its final song, Ant, the bassist, came to the front of the stage and let some people in the audience sing along. A little NYHC but all in the name of fun.
Tom Murphy Elway at Outdoor Stage at Summergrind
On the outdoor stage, Elway was definitely cultivating that late '90s, melodic hardcore vibe. But with it an irreverent attitude. You could tell that even though these guys had the music down, it wasn't exactly something they had worked out to the last detail, and that added an element of the unexpected to the set.
During Elway's set, Tim Browne thanked the Gothic and Danny Sax, acknowledging that SummerGrind took a lot of effort to put together, effort "that my alcoholic self couldn't accomplish. And thanks to people selling beer, checking IDs and selling you lighters with anarchy symbols." That bit got some laughs. And for their part, the members of Elway gave us a raw delivery of catchy punk that wouldn't be as compelling in more calculated hands.
Tom Murphy Boldtype at Gothic Theatre
Back inside the Gothic, Boldtype's set felt like traveling back a dozen years ago when pop-punk bands blurred the lines with emo in interesting ways. Mike Bold's kid was on stage with firing range headphones to protect him from the amps, shaking a tamborine and otherwise running around striking poses. The music was reminiscent of The Descendents or All, but with Bold's vocals, there was an emotional nuance that gave the music more depth than you'd expect.
Indeed, the usual themes of loss and working class angst were there, but the implicit theme of picking yourself back up and going on were there too, and each song had a Springsteen-esque anthem of compassion for self and your friends to them. During quiet instrumental sections, Bold's face shook with the force of emotion, and the rest of the band was good and creating dynamic tension in their own right.
Tom Murphy Skyfox at the Outdoor Stage at Summergrind
Back on the outdoor stage, Skyfox was definitely in early Green Day mode with Johnny Hill's vocals making that impression stronger. And yet the guitar work, apt at setting up a texture with muted, clipped riffing set it apart. The lyrics were earnest and delivered in a way that embraced vulnerability rather than propping up some dumb tough guy stance. Singing about a mixture of youthful dreams cast aside but romanticized and fondly remembered with friends, deferred angry rants to slights from an ex-girlfriend and getting over life's little disappointments, Skyfox did it in a way that didn't get boring.
Tom Murphy Allout Helter at Moe's Original BBQ
Allout Helter, playing at Moe's Original BBQ, found that nice convergence of speed metal, hardcore and political punk in its sound. The guitarists, at one point, sounded like they were mining the first two Iron Maiden albums for inspiration -- but this worked for them. Each song seemed like an outburst of emotion and catharsis. Especially on a song where Ross Hostage said, "Now for a public service announcement. Let's thrash!" And so these guys did, and it was a bit like what you'd imagine a Discharge show to be like if you were there.