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NASA Space Universe, Cerebral Ballzy, OFF! At The Roxy, Wednesday April 23rd 2014



These punk shows are like the good old times, or are they? Someone told me that in the 80s, going to a punk show was literally risking his life, either taking a good beating or being crushed in a moshpit. I can’t believe how smoothly this show at the Roxy went. Yes there was chaos, moshing, pushing and energy, but overall if you had managed to go to the side, sufficiently away from the moshing circle in the middle of the room, you were far from risking anything and it was rather cool and quiet. There was even a couple close to me who were having a very romantic evening. What? The Black Flag crowd has really been tamed down, or getting old, or both. Three punk bands succeeded to each other on the stage of the Roxy during Wednesday night, and despite a large foot hitting my head at one point, nothing dramatic happened! I am talking about Black Flag because OFF! was headlining, and looking at people’s shirts, many had the iconic band in mind,.. but on the other hand, it was probably the first punk show I went to where I saw more OFF! shirts than Black Flag shirts and this is hard to accomplish.

But NASA Space Universe was opening and they were right away brutal to my ears. The singer jumped directly off the stage and started a mosh pit with the few people willing to do so. Their sound was super-loud, aggressive and totally distorted, and the guy was hurling like a roaring beast. Curiously, he didn’t look like someone who could produce such a sound, he had this blond beach boy look and there was nothing dangerous about him at first, but he was mean from start to finish! Fast and furious could have suited them very well and honestly I am still wondering if it was music, or even a song? You know when all you can hear is this ghastly noise that breaks your eardrums and the wall of sound, and barely slows down at times, is it the end of a song? Ha, I need some education but people loved them, they were applauding and I even saw some of them buying the LP after the show.

Cerebral Ballzy were next and they managed to install a sense of danger right away in an aggressive mode despite their joking name. Yes, they could have given a heart attack at someone who has never attended a punk show, but most of us have seen that before, right? The middle finger, the beer spitting and the trashy punk attitude in full bloom at a young age…. these guys have studied the classics of the genre and it’s difficult to reinvent them. Don’t get me wrong, they were good, the energy on stage was strong and the pit ferocious, people were pushing and a guy even plunged from the stage over my head,… I crouched just on time. Frontman Honor Titus was cute with his Gavroche hat, announcing the themes of the short songs, ‘this is a song about a girl in NY’, ‘this is a song about not going to school’, ‘this is a song about going too fast in skateboard’,… some real adolescent preoccupations in front of 50-year-old guys! The crowd was giving the finger in appreciation, ‘Fuck you’, he answered… But I am still looking for something to say that could differentiate Cerebral Ballzy from the other punk bands of the same age. Fidlar do it with more smiles and upbeat mood, Trash Talk with far more darkness, acrobatics and chaos –I have never more terrorized than in the pit of Trash Talk – so what does Cerebral Ballzy does? I am not sure, but they were raging enough to warm up the room for OFF!

OFF! played a long list of songs, but they are so short!! And, mid-show, a girl had already started to rip the huge setlist off the stage… ‘Ask, don’t take’ said Keith Morris while stepping on the large setlist duct taped on the floor… ‘Don’t be a republican,… or a democrat!’ These moments of calm and rest, filled up with Morris’ rants and other random social commentaries, were punctuated the show which was otherwise made of a series of crazy and frenetic outbursts of pure punk energy. It was as if Keith Morris was bipolar, being totally civil and polite during the rants, and being like possessed with his eyes getting out of his orbits when he was singing. Dimitri Coats and Steven McDonald brought the show to another level on the large stage of the Roxy (I had seen him a few weeks ago on the small stage of Amoeba) they were moving fast, bouncing everywhere, legs apart, and the crowd went crazy for most of the time. There is something about hardcore and full grown men that I won’t never totally understand but these guys were bounding with a big B with the music, the riffs, the guitar assaults, the screaming,.. A 200-pound man jumped above my head at one point (you can even see that in the video below) and that was painful… more for him than me, because I avoided the crash, but I would like to say that if you can’t tie your shoelaces anymore, may be it’s time to stop the stage diving? You are not flexible enough, you will land flat on the floor or on other people’s heads and it’s gonna be ugly.

When are you too old to be punk? Looking around me, nobody was asking himself/herself this question, testosterone was rushing in these men’s blood (and I don’t know about the women) as if they were having a new outburst of puberty. Everybody asked for more, and OFF! came back for a few songs with even more rage. It was chaos for a good hour and the younger guys were having their ‘Black Flag moment’, or a tempered version of it.

Pictures of the show here.

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