Well, I think there is much to be said about this past Friday night’s show at the Phoenix Theater. I mean, where do I begin? You had four bands who all conveyed that rebellious spirit which makes punk such a great form of artistic musical expression. Eventually the artistic expression would take a turn down chaos street and looked more like an ECW wrestling event. Still, Nor Bay Pyrate Punx delivered a solid benefit show with good music and very interesting moments.
The bands billed were R4ID from Ukiah, Sonoma County locals The Quitters, Modern Enemy who came up all the way from Orange County, and then Elderly Abuse from the East Bay. Right when I arrived at the Phoenix the skateboard punks were tearing it up on the ramps inside the venue. A venue known for its down to earth atmosphere, I have always admired the Phoenix for giving people a place to go and not feel restricted by overbearing house rules. Most venues would not even let you bring a skateboard in let alone actually do some tricks while the bands are performing. Of course there is a limit to how much you can get away with at the Phoenix and I will discuss that a bit later.
Opening up the show was R4ID who I had seen before play at the Phoenix with my friends in Amnesia back in June. I was quite impressed by these young punk rockers who reminded listeners that the music is all about playing fast, simple and not giving a damn about the shitty world around you. For a young band they really have a tight sound and all around seem to be solid players. They brought that same energy they did when I first saw them and kicked off the show with a big middle finger full of unapologetic distorted angst. The trio ripped through killer song after song while people were skating around the venue floor. The band’s bassist and singer Phoenix Lewis was extremely fired up during the set and guitarist Boden Vogus hammered away at the fast paced riffs. Drummer Daniel Young not only offered up a strong performance behind the kit, but also provided some solid backing vocals. Overall, R4ID put together a killer set and I believe these dudes are a band to be on the look out for in the world of punk.
Switching from young punks to veteran punks, The Quitters took to the stage next and unleashed their sound of no-nonsense attitude. These locals looked as if they had rocked the Phoenix before and seemed very comfortable while cruising through their songs. The audience was divided with those in the back watching the band and then those in the front of the stage skateboarding around. If you thought mosh pits were dangerous try dodging skateboarding punks doing tricks and coming up with different ramp ideas. One guy was literally taking wooden boards and tables trying to create some unique ramp. The Quitters played a decent set that sounded good for the most part and went over well with the audience.
Third up on the bill and driving a long way to play was, Modern Enemy. These guys must be really dedicated and passionate about the music to drive all the way from Orange County. When they turned up the volume and tore into their first song the audience started to put the skateboards down and actually mosh. The band’s singer had great stance presence which added the band’s vicious old school hardcore punk sound. Also, they have a solid twin guitar attack and heavy sounding low end. Their bass player even had a cordless bass, so he was frantically running around the stage during songs. One of my favorite songs from them was, “True 300,” which had a very simple straightforward classic punk sound. Towards the end of their set they played some really wicked covers with one being D.O.A.’s “Fuck You.” I truly respect the fact that they drove from far away to rock the Phoenix. Plus, the crowd’s response once they finished their set showed how much the audience appreciated their crushing performance.
After three bands and a rather humorous raffle for some of the stuff that they were giving away, the final band started setting up. Elderly Abuse from the East Bay not only has one extreme sounding name, but their stage antics are over the top. The band’s singer acted as if he were just released from solitary confinement and wanted to fight anyone who came near him. He started the set off right in the middle of the venue and welcomed anyone who wanted to come and mosh near him. Well, alcohol and moshing can lead to some interested things and the singer eventually started tackling people. I was really digging the guitarist’s tone and thought the drummer did an amazing job holding down the rhythm during all the chaos in the pit. Just everything kept taking a turn for the worst. People started throwing cans and bottles around the venue like it was a game of dodge ball. Then all of a sudden people were bringing out steal chairs and tables. Once I saw a trash can go flying in the air, I knew the owner was not going to be happy. Sure enough the owner came out turned down their sound and told them to get the hell out.
I understand Elderly Abuse wants to have that no limits punk rock attitude, but they should have respected the venue and realized the liability issues of having objects like steal chairs being thrown around. I thought it was hilarious that the singer started shouting, “Fuck the Mystic Theater,” as he left the stage. Luckily the chaotic situation was diffused and some people from the audience even helped pick up the cans and bottles. Punk is all about rebellion and sticking it to the authority, however, the venue that allows you to play your music should be treated with a bit more respect. I would like to hear Elderly Abuse with less chairs, tables and bottles being tossed around, because they didn't sound to bad before all the mayhem broke out.
Even with the out of control finale, I must say it was an enjoyable evening at the Phoenix Theater. I always love coming to this venue because there are few places around that give bands like this a chance to play. However, some people need to maybe tone down their behavior and think before acting at times. For my usual cheesy closing statement I say...the bands that play this style of music do it for the passion and love of the music, so let's make sure we do our best to support them and also respect the venues where they allow this type of music.