Although they had just woken from their 24-year dormancy a mere 12 months prior, the members of Antisect hit the U.S. sounding even more energetic and sharper than they had during their original run. Although the show was in the Oakland Metro Opera house's side room with the band playing to a mere 50 or so people, the group played as if it was there to change the world May 26.
Antisect 2012 is something of an amalgamation of its former versions. Antisect never had a fully stable line up, but the new version features founding guitarist Pete Lyons, vocalist Tim Andrews and bassist Laurence Windle, who were the last members of Antisect's original run, and new drummer Joe Burwood. Immediately, it was striking how sharp the band sounded. While Antisect is likely considered a "punk" band, the energy and weight it struck with at times resembled thrash metal.
Possibly because its lyrics can be political manifestos in of themselves, the band ran from cut to cut without breaking for speech, tearing through most of its discography, which includes a mere one album and one EP, with some more rare cuts thrown in. Live, it became evident how avant garde Antisect's music really gets. While a great deal of it is whiplash thrashing, suddenly, the music would break into extended soundscapes with audio clips drifting across the air, only to snap into harsh, slugging breakdown which, for the time, were brand new inventions.
Although the band hadn't played for over two decades, its dedication to performance was especially impressive. Both Lyons and Windle stood on either side of Andrews, rarely moving, but vibrating like diodes pumped full of electricity, intertwining their instruments into a single power, but precise, attack. Andrews was equally interesting, because while crust-punk/anarcho-punk is usually clogged with frowning faces and motionless bodies, he was in constant motion behind the microphone, dancing as much as scowling.
But, while the band has just recently united, it seems that the resurrection isn't for "good times," but rather, a continuation of their mission. While after the show the band was amiable and stayed around to chat with the audience on stage, each member had a dead set look of seriousness on his face, almost as if they weren't just playing music, but pleading for a way of lifeā?¦
Openers Short Changed played a well received set of savage-sounding crust punk/hardcore. While the band was energetic and had some nasty sound, it seems that some more differentiation from similar bands would benefit the group greatly. However, their female vocalist (which in of itself is a step in the right direction) did produce a type of unhinged, raw vitriol not seen the rest of the night.
Next, Opposition Rising took the stage. Featuring members of Toxic Narcotic, the band was the logical successor of the Boston crust punk workhorse. As the band tore through about 12 heavy, energetic, screamed tunes, the audience worked into a frenzy to the mosh soundtrack. At times, between the band's combination of serious political condemnations and self winking comedy, Opposition Rising almost seemed to be an East Coast MDC, or at least in the same vein. With a new album out, they don't reinvent the wheel of this sound, but whittle it down to its most powerful components.
Right before Antisect took the stage, the Bay Area's Kicker kicked off some UK82-style bashing. A sort of underground supergroup, the band contains Bay Area legendary band tech Pete the Roadie, Mauz from Dystopia, Dave Ed of Neurosis and Toby from Filth. While the other acts were more in the angry vain, Kicker, while serious with its message, brought a little bit more fun to the show. Cutting through three-minute stompers about being old, lager and being rude for the sake of being rude, the audience seemed both relieved by the more friendly music as well as surprised at just how good this band was at playing that kind of music. Rarely has a band been able to blend serious statement with fun tunes with such effect, particularly in 2012.
-Perhaps it says something about my own self esteem, but when going to fringe shows, I often dress wildly different than most of the people there to embrace punk's core anti-conformity ethos. Indeed, in my Digital Underground T-shirt and fresh Puma track jacket, I was the only person not in a patched vest or jacket, aside from one other fellow wearing a yellow, RUSH tank top. Touche.
-RE: said Puma track jacket. "You can never betoo fresh."- Paulie D. I genuinely agree with that sentiment.
-After working a 14-hour day, i arrived at the show only to be hassled for change to get into said show by two able bodied 18-year-old males. I wanted to scream "I just worked 14 fucking hours to see this show, dick weed!" But I didn't, because I thought it would be classist. So, instead, after the show, I just did a burn-out in my Lexus directly in front of said teenagers. (Only part of this statement is a lie. Guess which part!)