Poison Idea/Child Bite/Braidedveins - Live in Grand Rapids (Cover Artwork)
Staff Pick

Poison Idea / Child Bite / Braidedveins

Live in Grand Rapids (2016)

live show

I’ve been doing this punk rock thing for more than 25 years now. There really aren’t too many bands left on my bucket list. Those remaining are mostly British or West coast punk bands that just don’t make it into middle America. I would count Portland, Oregon’s Poison Idea in that group. I’m not likely to see a lot of those bands, but once in awhile I get lucky. You can only imagine my joy when I learned that Poison Idea would be playing at my favorite club (The Pyramid Scheme) in Grand Rapids on Sunday, February 21st at the end of their East coast tour. It would be only the second Michigan show in the band’s 35 year history. I’d been looking forward to it so much, that there was no way it could possibly meet my expectations. Or could it?

The Grand Rapids show was the last date on the eleven stop tour. Child Bite provided direct support for most of the dates, but each stop seemed to have notable local and regional bands too. Iron Reagan, The F.U.’s, and Sheer Terror all jumped on a bill at some point along the way. I suspect a lot of bands were thrilled at the prospect of sharing the stage with Poison Idea. I also couldn’t help but notice that quite a few metal bands were opening these shows. Relatively new local band, Worst Self, led off this particular show with a heavy, noisy half hour set. It reminded me a bit of an even more muscular Helmet. There was a noticeable Amphetamine Reptile influence on their driving sludge. The audience seemed to enjoy it, even if the mostly older crowd was slow to show it. I definitely plan to investigate Worst Self further.

Next up was Braidedveins from Flint. The band might feature The Swellers’ former drummer, but don’t expect upbeat pop-punk. Braidedveins plays dark, heavy, rhythmic and sample-filled music. Maybe a bit like Neurosis. The animated singer looks like a lithe, heavily tattooed version of Eraserhead. (Maybe Sideshow Bob would be a better reference for younger people.) He came out into the audience to sing a couple of songs, but as a rule the band didn’t really interact with the denim and leather clad crowd. The songs felt complex and a little artsy-fartsy, but they were always interesting. At one point there was a sample about the Flint water crisis, which ultimately led to an angry song on the same topic. The PBR was starting to kick in at this point, and most people seemed pretty receptive to Braidedveins’ challenging 30 minute set.

Child Bite is one of my favorite bands from Detroit, and I look forward to seeing them any chance I get. (Last year the lucky bastards toured with another hardcore legend and fellow Detroiters Negative Approach.) Led by frontman Shawn Knight, the band tore through an inspired half hour set. They really seemed like they were on a mission. Knight might remind you of the mutant son of Jello Biafra and the crazy cat lady. (That’s another Simpsons reference.) Child Bite’s music is weird and frantic, spastic and fantastic. My personal favorites were “Molestation of the Arts” and “Still Fucked Up After All These Years” from 2014’s Strange Waste EP. I also enjoyed the new song “Vermin Mentality”. Child Bite’s new record Negative Noise comes out April 1st. It was produced by Phil Anselmo and will be released on his Housecore Records. If you like your punk/metal/noise a bit on the disturbing side, you should definitely check out Child Bite.

It was 11pm by the time Poison Idea took the stage. You could noticeably feel the tension building. There were a lot of 40 year old people seeing this band for the very first time. From the first notes, it was obvious that the band was on fire. Their driving, thrash-punk felt very straight forward and stood in stark contrast to the openers. They sounded great, although very loud. Singer/founder Jerry A. looked better than he has in years, although he might have been a bit hoarse after a week and a half on the road. He seemed ill at ease making small talk with the audience. It was a bit surprising, but better than fake, rehearsed monologues. The two other old guys in the band could also hold their own. Lead guitarist Eric ‘Vegetable’ Olson just stood back and effortlessly cranked out killer riffs and blistering solos. Bassist Chris ‘Spider’ Carey looked like he was having more fun than anyone else in the room. The whippersnappers on rhythm guitar and drums gave the band an injection of youthful energy.

Poison Idea played songs from their entire 35 year career, including a couple from their most recent album, 2015’s excellent Confuse & Conquer. “Hangover Heart Attack”, “Lifestyles” and “Just to Get Away” were crowd favorites. The biggest cheers of the night were saved for Poison Idea’s excellent cover of “Motorhead”. I watched a good portion of the show from right in front of the stage, and it was phenomenal. The show wasn’t perfect, but there were moments that were sublime. Even after more than 25 years, I’m still thrilled by this music. I feel fortunate to have experienced it.