A lot of time has passed since the last time I went to a show at Gilman, but once we walked in (after buying new annual membership cards – something we do almost every time we go there these days), it was like no time had passed at all. Our main reason for going was to see Conquest For Death and say hi to our friend Devon (who provides vocals for CFD and currently lives up in Washington, which means we don’t often see each other), and our friend Danny Buzzard, whose band, Fast Asleep, was also on the bill.
I remember back when I took my stepsons (from my first marriage) to their first show at Gilman. How many other kids can say that their first show was Extreme Noise Terror? Not many, I’m betting. I bring this up because in addition to Jeanine, my stepdaughter, Eva, came along for the ride. This was far from her first show (these days, I think she goes to more shows than I do), but it was her first time at Gilman.
We ran into Devon and Danny right away, and ended up going down the street with Devon to get some water and candy bars, catching up as we did so. By the time we got back, opener Jason Guy Smiley was onstage with his guitar, playing a solo set of gruff, acoustic punk. His songs were okay, but for some reason, my mind kept wandering. There was nothing in his music to hook me and reel me in.
Next up was Los Huaycos, who played a short, sharp set of raw hardcore, sounding to me like a less chaotic version of the old school Italian band, Wretched (my comparisons invariably tend to be with eighties bands because I’m old), and that’s a good thing.
The follow up band was a local one called Party Animals. Despite their rather generic name, they played a relatively good set that reminded me slightly of Rudimentary Peni (again, I’m old), although mostly just in the vocals, which were harsh and snotty, making them sound a bit like Peni singer Nick Blinko. They did a cover of Motorhead’s Bomber too, which was interesting.
Fast Asleep are a trio from Santa Cruz, featuring the aforementioned Danny Buzzard on guitar. Both Danny and the bassist handled vocal duties. Musically, they were a blur of aggression, screaming though a set of ultra fast metallic hardcore that verged on being grindcore at times. I chuckled at Buzzard’s introduction to Automaul. “This is a song about 880. Fuck that freeway!” which was cathartic for us because we’d just spent the previous couple hours inching along in an interminable rush hour crawl from the South Bay (come to think of it, Fast Asleep mostly likely did a similar crawl, but from farther away). The band had a new 7” for sale too. Maybe someday they'll have it for sale on their Bandcamp page.
Conquest For Death proved to be their usual spry selves, cavorting about the stage with hardcore abandon. Bassist Robert was his usual spring loaded self, and at one point, Devon managed to climb one of the walls and dangle briefly from the ceiling.
The pit got the air circulating, and the band’s aggressive hardcore cut through the atmosphere like a well-aimed bludgeon. It’s a positive energy too. The set whipped by in a blur of sweat and sound, with the standout probably being their mini-anthem, Many Nations, One Underground, although it was all great. This music helps keep me young. I often joke about being old, but I don’t feel it. I can’t kick higher than my head like Devon and Robert can though…
We figured we’d check out a bit of the Night Birds set and quietly make our exit if they were boring. We ended up staying for the whole set, so I guess we weren’t bored. The band reminded me slightly of the Adolescents, making them the sole band on the bill that sounded influenced by U.S. hardcore rather than the European variety. I was always more into the European stuff, but Night Birds made me want to revisit the eighties U.S. hardcore bands.