Last Night: T.S.O.L. at Fitzgerald's
It seemed as though I was the only Rocks Off blogger who failed to catch a show over Labor Day weekend, so I was looking forward to Tuesday night. This summer has evolved into something of of a punk-rock history course for me, beginning with the Descendants at Free Press Summer Fest and continuing with 30footFALL, Spunk, Poor Dumb Bastards and more at the When We Ruled H-Town showcase a few weeks back.
After checking out some of Houston's finest contemporary punks at Fitz two weekends ago, including Skeleton Dick, Bury the Crown and Hell City Kings, the notion of wrapping up the summer by returning to the roots of West Coast hardcore with another group I'd never caught before, T.S.O.L., was too good to pass up.
The crowd was slow to arrive at Fitz last night -- no real surprise for a Tuesday, I suppose. The stragglers missed a blistering opening set by local three-piece Crime Wave, who did their best to deliver the ultimate shredder soundtrack. The band's hyperspeed bursts of hardcore were quick enough to be augmented by snatches of both "Raining Blood" and "Breadfan," but the young punks up front seemed a little confused by the group's Dick Dale-style surf licks on one tune.
Dead to the World
When Crime Wave lit into the silly, speedy "William Shatner's Dick" and "Fashion Assassinate," however, the small crowd still gathering knew just what to do, erupting into the first of many manic slam pits of the night. Personally, the band's neck-snapping riffs left me sorely tempted to find an old 1980s wide-deck skateboard and finally learn how to ride the damn thing.
Next up was Dead to the World, purveyors of a more anthemic strain of punk that featured bassist Brandon Lyday and guitarist Mohawk Steve trading vocal duties. I noticed several young ladies in the audience that definitely did not appear to hate the way these guys looked, but their music was difficult to resist, too. My favorites from their set were the sing-along-ready "The Lonely" and a new song, "War." What is it good for? Skankin,' that's what.
Though aggressive in sound, the first two bands were made to look downright civil by the antics of Spastic Fit frontman Darrell Steinkuehler, who jumped, pranced and crawled about the stage as if he'd consumed enough sugar to supply a Mexican Coca-Cola bottling plant for an Olympiad or two.
"Put away your phones! Put away your laptops!" he yelled. "Live life now! Have some fun!"
One microphone was apparently insufficient for these purposes, because Steinkuehler must have gone through every mike in the joint, double-fisting them when possible and becoming entangled in numerous cables and stands in the process.
"Please stop wrecking my shit," said a nonplussed-sounding sound lady over the monitors, leading to a round of semi-sincere apologies. But the crowd responded nicely to the chaos. Spastic Fit's frantic, barely controlled sound was the perfect energizer to prepare the audience for the punk-rock legends to come.