Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Salad Days: DC Hardcore Redux.

TUN*C (front center) representing at the Dag Nasty show on 12/28/12. 
(photo by Nalinee Darmrong)
The weekend of December 28, 2012 was destined to be legendary. Six bands from my favorite music scene were reuniting for a weekend of shows to celebrate the legacy of the Washington DC hardcore/punk community and to raise money for the yet to be released documentary film, Salad Days: The Birth of Punk in the Nation's Capital.

The sold-out weekend of music took place at the Black Cat in Northwest Washington DC, a club collectively owned by several notable DC musicians including: Dave Grohl (Scream, Nirvana, Foo Fighters) and Dante Ferrando (Gray Matter, Ignition). Glancing around the room pre-show, it was like a who's who of DC punk rock history, where at any given moment Ian MacKaye (Minor Threat etc.) might be to your right and HR (Bad Brains) might be to your left.
Kingface 12.28.12

The weekend of shows started on Friday with DC's punk answer to hard rock: Kingface. Fronted by DC punk scene veteran, Mark Sullivan (Slinkees, RLSOT, Sevens), Kingface has always been a scene enigma, with their unapologetic blend of Van Halen and Nugent worn proudly on their sleeve, they rocked through a solid set of hits that musically contrasted much of what was yet to come.
Dag Nasty's 12.28.12 setlist
Dag Nasty was up next to play what was arguably the most anticipated show of the weekend. The band played with the original line-up of Shawn Brown, Brian Baker, Colin Sears and Roger Marbury. Twenty-seven years later, Dag Nasty managed to channel the youthful angst most of us were feeling when we first heard their music. That night we were all teenagers again, at least for 45 minutes. Here's a video of the full set minus the instrumental "Mango":

Friday night concluded with a set by one of Washington DC's oldest punk bands, Black Market Baby. The band, which originally formed in 1980, played an amazing set which was punctuated by an appearance of HR to cover the Bad Brains tune: "Right Brigade."
HR joins Black Market Baby on stage 12.28.12
When Saturday rolled around, I debated even going to the show. Friday night was so amazing, I didn't want to tarnish the memory in anyway. The evening started with Youth Brigade, the original DC kind, who ironically opened with a cover of "Sink with California" to further confuse those not in on the joke. The set was highlighted by an all-star rendition of DC punk's favorite cover tune: "Stepping Stone."

Youth Brigade's set was followed shortly afterward by Government Issue, a band that over the years has had an ever changing line-up of DC punk notables i.e. Brian Baker, Mike Fellows, J. Robbins, Pete Moffett, Steve Hansgen and an ever evolving sound. The GI we saw on Saturday focused mostly on their hardcore punk material, complete with quirky attire and nostalgic anecdotes by front-man John Stabb.
Government Issue 12.29.12

To wrap up the weekend of music, Scream took the stage. Scream which at one point, famously included Dave Grohl as a drummer, played with the finesse and poise of a band not together just for a reunion, because they were not. Scream reunited in 2009 and has stayed active since with an upcoming release in the works. Throughout the show, vocalist, Pete Stahl, paced the stage with the energy of a 10 year old off his Ritalin, while his sibling, Franz, lept and stomped along with each power chord (all the while wearing a Crossroads Triumph shirt). It was a befitting end to an evening of vintage punk/hardcore, a reminder to us all that we are sometimes only as old as we feel.

Scream 12.29.12

Look at us today, we've gotten soft and fat, waiting for the moment, its just not coming back. So serious about the stuff we lack, dwell upon our memories, But there are no facts. But I stay on, I stay on, where do I get off? On to greener pastures, the core is getting soft. Do you remember when? Yeah so do I. They call those the Salad Days, the good old days, what a fucking lie, I call it a lie.     

Ton Up NC = Riding, Restoration and Racing of Vintage Motorcycles

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