Trash Knife / Be Nothing - live in Philadelphia (Cover Artwork)
Staff Pick

Trash Knife / Be Nothing

live in Philadelphia (2023)

live show

“That’s our level of professionalism,” guitarist Steve Firth of Trash Knife mused. He was commenting on the fact that Trash Knife “actually practiced one time” before their January 21, 2023 gig at Philly dive supreme, Century Bar. By the time the band took to the stage, they were feeling the effects of their cups. Singer Lauren announced “I’m a procrastinator and I suck!” She also accidentally broke the microphone which earned her a tongue lashing from the venue soundman. The set was raw, ragged, and sloppy. That is to say, it totally ruled.

What Trash Knife made clear at their first gig of the year was that, honestly, like few bands these days, there is a sense of chaotic danger. Both Steve and drummer Mat take cues from early Dangerhouse style damage and when they play live, they really like to bash it up, with perfection being traded in for sonic damage. The band certainly was explosive as they ripped through their set, including older hitters like “Rhonda Rousey” and “Party Party.” Each of those tunes revels in a certain manic nihilism and for whatever reason, at Century, the band did seem particularly volatile. I really liked when Steve held up his guitar like a club, only to swing it down while striking a chord or two with a certain violent glee.

Meanwhile, you can’t help but be charmed by singer Lauren’s forthright delivery. She often denounces or (verbally) beats her self up on stage only take a minute to talk about the importance of respecting yourself. Lauren’s message isn’t as uniform as that of many other contemporary bands and comes from the heart more than the head. As she contracts herself- at one point she yells out, “I suck!” and at another “you should be your own most important person”- I wonder if her contradictory act is a sort of a first wave punk pastiche or if she really is out of control. I don’t know and I think that’s the point. Album please!

Before Trash Knife, Be Nothing took to the stage with a frantic mélange of styles. At one point, the band charged ahead like Motorhead. At another, the Brian adopted the crazed and youthful tone of the Toy Dolls. The band flipped flopped through styles in a sprint and it gave the whole thing a sort of Dead Kennedys/geza X wide-eyed pessimism, which I enjoyed thoroughly. Brian was wearing a Nomeansno shirt and it sure fit- the band isn’t scared to play with atonality, and maybe even a Hendrix style gbuitar soar here or there. But, just when they got arty, they slammed down the chords and brought back the classic punk charge. They also have a song that has the refrain, “Don’t treat me like an asshole, I got to work tomorrow!”

Before that, newish band Civil Rats cut through a brief set of modern punk power pop. The band is based in Nerves style sugar and spite with singer Molly using her powerful pipes that sit somewhere between Debbie Harry and Penelope Houston. The band kicked out some funny-ish tracks, including an ode to Quantum Leap and another about hating playing basement shows. The band has a fair amount of yuks, but there tends to be a more serious edge between the wry smile, making the band’s start and interesting one.

The show opened with another new-ish band, Truth Serum, which is fronted by Audrey Crash of Pushin’ it 2 the limit and Ex-Friends. As with most Audrey bands, the band is fast and frantic and has a lot of twists and turns. But, the key is that all the flashing and lashing is driven by a real propulsion which makes these tracks visceral instead of brainy. The group sped through their set and kicked out some primo material before closing with, “We don’t have any merch!” I hope they do in the future…