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Head Wound City At The Satellite, Wednesday March 30th 2016 Reviewed

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Head Wound City


Head Wound City, the supergroup made up of members of The Locust, The Blood Brothers and Yeah Yeah Yeahs, have labelled themselves on social media, ‘A New Wave of Violence’,… it’s also the title of their upcoming album, an expression appropriately taken from the Raymond Pettibon zine, and violence there was inside the Satellite on Wednesday night. The crowd got really big and chaotic, with a mean mosh pit and the smell of danger.

Did you say hardcore? The band is a super hardcore one, with Jordan Blilie and Cody Votolato (Blood Brothers) respectively on vocals and guitar, Gabe Serbian and Justin Pearson (The Locust) respectively on drums and bass, and Nick Zinner (Yeah Yeah Yeahs) on guitar, so what could anyone expect from this TNT alchemy? The result was above expectation, they trashed the place like there was no tomorrow, they commanded the place and raised seven levels of hell, and it was simply amazing to watch the quiet Satellite club progressively transforming itself into the most aggressive place in LA, in just a few minutes.

Prissy Whip opened the show, and I can’t say I was sold on their aggressive dissonance. Fronted by a girl hurling and yelling in front of chainsaw-like guitars and ravaging drums, for a few minutes I thought I had never heard something so unbearable for the eardrums. They were grinding, scratching, creaking in complete dissonance, and getting all these crazy hammering sounds from guitars thanks to an impressive number of pedals, building a horrific-creepy atmosphere with long semi-silent moments before another outburst of their crazy violence. It felt as if they had murdered a few people during one of these super aggressive assaults.

Keepers were still full aggression but using a much more familiar form of aggression, with catchy dance punk numbers. The apparent classic guitar-bass-drums trio from San Diego had interesting krautrock-y grooves, a dark and devastating sound dominated by a shouted-echoing monochord-blasé delivery… Blasé was even the title of one of their songs as a matter of fact. Their music was dark and sinister and could I even say that there was a bit of Interpol in that evil bass?

As soon as Head Wound City took the stage, the distortion got intense, the guitars were on full assault mode all set long, each piece of their noise-trash-grindcore-mathcore was played like a new battle against an invisible enemy and Jordan Blilie screamed at the top of this madhouse with bloodthirsty vocals,… The battle became even more obvious when Cody Votolato jumped at the top of the crowd, legs first and surfing for a few seconds, while still playing guitar.

I have been to a few punk hardcore shows, I witnessed the Blood Brothers destroy the stage at the FYF fest, I survived Trash Talk when they annihilated the El Rey theater or even Bad Brains, when the police had to close down the Sunset Junction Fair, I have felt real danger a few times, and last night was one of these nights, adrenaline was pumping high in the veins, and I was watching my back the whole time. Being close to Nick Zinner, who was playing a bit on the side of the rest of the band, I could observe all his moves, which had an almost reptilian coolness and precision. There were very abrupt changes in the music, and an anger rarely reached in music thanks to Blilie’s signature shrills. Their trash-grind-goth-metal tainted of every permutation of experimental punk hardcore was so strident it was painfully good, it was so powerful that people started jumping against each other, and mayhem followed.

There was an urgency and a formidable power in the riffs which were making the whole thing sound like a monumental and awful beast, probably way too symbolic of the current state of humanity: Jordan Blilie has said in interviews that he was thinking ‘about the arrogance of mankind, and what we do to this planet, what we do to each other’ when he wrote the lyrics for ‘Born to Burn’. And if there is a form of music expression that fits all this present violence and arrogance, it certainly is hardcore and its inner rage.

Head Wound City achieved to materialize all this last night, and they did it with such a ruthless abandon, they produced such a palpable violence that it was almost too raw to bear. The crowd was in riot mode from the first to the last song, and if it is a very common scene at the Echo/Echoplex, I hadn’t seen this level of mutiny at the Satellite for a long time.

The show left a nihilistic taste in my mouth, a violence vibe matching our sad times. ‘I started to wonder if humans are inherently violent, or if violence is the inevitable result of the systems of power we put in place,’ said Jordan Blilie when talking about the title of their upcoming album, ‘A New Wave of Violence’, which will be released on May 13th via VICE Records, 11 years after the band’s self-titled ten-minute EP. The powergroup managed to renew a genre in a full powerviolence mode, making me even more aware of Mogwai’s famous album title, hardcore will never die but I will…

Old Age
Born to Burn
Radical Friends
I’m a Taxidermist – I’ll Stuff Anything
Head Wound City USA
Original Sin
Cast a Shadow
Prick Class
New Soak for an Empty Pocket
Closed Casket
Street College
Love is Best

More pictures here

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Nick Zinner

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