I live in a city where punk and DIY shows survive very well, thanks to a lot of people’s real faith in music! Hardcore punk and all its drifts still bring people together in a big mosh pit, whereas the aggression, the violence of the music and the rush of adrenaline coming from hardcore shows appropriately fit the current mood of anger, terrorism, fear, and rebellion.
During this scary political climate, three punk bands were playing the Moroccan Lounge on Thursday night, and you could not have come up with a more straightforward moniker than this hardcore LA band, which calls itself ‘Enemy. The singer was releasing a series of continuous furious screams while the menacing guitar assaults were battling with fast slaughtering drum beats. With a few leaps in the air and long bestial yells, they played their short hardcore numbers with a massive distortion, plenty of urgencies and an anxious frontman adopting a lion-in-cage stage walking … oh and they also covered Dead Kennedys’ ‘California Über Alles’.
Die Group, was another LA underground punk band with a trailblazing sound and plenty of dissonances. Drummer Reuben Kaiban was center stage and leading the game with a dark and morose delivery while Eric BigArm on guitar and Natalie Grace Sweet on bass were providing plenty of loud beats and distortion to go with their matching black leather jackets. They had a surprising sound with splashing drums, some aggressive detours, and big punk guitar head-bangings. They have released their last album ‘Disease Control’ last July and there was a bit of death rock in their music and demeanor
Hardcore band Ex-Cult headlined the night with charisma, mostly thanks to their dark frontman Chris Shaw. The punk band has close ties with California garage rock darlings as some of their albums were produced by Ty Segall, a 2015 EP was released on Castle Face, the label run by Thee Oh Sees’ John Dwyer, and singer Chris Shaw also fronts Gøggs, one of Segall’s numerous side projects. However, Ex-Cult is actually from Memphis, showing that the famous music city has more to offer than Mississippi blues and the Sun Studios. I had missed their recent performance at Desert Daze, and this new one was a way to make up, although the desert crowd was a notch wilder than the Moroccan Lounge audience on a Thursday night. That said, plenty of action and plenty of moshing happened during their anxious songs. Ex-Cult mostly works because of its mad accelerations, from slow tempos to aggressively fast bullets, while their songs are injected by Shaw’s cold and merciless hoarse. This guy barely screams like most punk frontmen, but his creepy tone works magic while his body seems to be constantly bent, leaning over the mic stand as if he could barely stand the velocity of the music. There was a mix of rage and despair, of strength and vulnerability in their performance, as they were adventuring where post-punk meets hardcore. With a large dose of super fuzz going in an explosive spiral of angsty rock, Ex-Cult was an intense and thrilling ride and everyone was asking for more so they had to come back for an encore.
The whole show was promoted by beloved punk rock photographer, Dave Fearn, who is better known as Shit Show Dave by the Los Angeles underground crowd. Last summer, his photo exhibit of hundreds of LA musicians portraits drew a crowd to the Factory, an underground venue, while the event was also promoting up-and-coming punk and indie-rock bands. ‘Photography gives me purpose and earns me credibility, I use photography to navigate my life and for organizing my perceptions of stuff’, he writes in his fanzine, so you can expect more of these shows organized by Shit Show Dave, as you can count on his dedication to the underground music LA scene.
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Total EAUs? 102K