Last Night: OFF! & Negative Approach at Warehouse Live
Thursday night, East Downtown was hoppin.' The streets were filled with orange-clad soccer fans ready to watch the Dynamo whip up on El Salvador's C.D. FAS, and the bars on St. Emmanuel St. were doing brisk business.
The energy on the streets outside crackled into Warehouse Live, where hardcore lifers prepared to pound the workday blues out of a fierce crowd of some of Houston's gnarliest punks.
For once, it was difficult finding free parking for a weeknight show at Warehouse. By the time I made it in the door, Dallas' Power Trip was already in full swing. Having seen them before, I wasn't surprised to see most of the audience crowding the rear of the venue.
The area near the stage had been thoroughly taken over by the thrashy crossover band's contingent of wild, floor-punching fans, and the rest of the crowd did their best to give them a wide berth.
In the circle pit during the band's set-closer, "Vultures," I saw a girl up front take a fist to the temple from some fat chump "dancing" awfully carelessly. The blow would have probably given me a traumatic brain injury, but she barely seemed to notice. Now that's hard core.
Frenzied though the pit may have been for Power Trip, it was only a warm-up for the chaos that greeted Detroit's hardcore godfathers, Negative Approach. I don't have a clue when the last time NA rumbled through Houston was, but to slam-dancers young and old on Thursday, it had clearly been too long.
As soon as front man John Brannon grabbed the mike and began spitting bile, he was rushed by fans eager to scream along. Suddenly, Warehouse Live appeared to be transported back to 1982 as dirty white boys skanked hard and stage divers turned cartwheels on to people's heads. It was a total madhouse, spurred on by NA's hard and nasty tunes.
Onstage, there were no smiles. "Negative Approach" defines the band's ethos pretty accurately, and Brannon grimaced his way through song after short, blistering song. His disposition was not improved by the stage invaders, who managed to unplug practically every monitor onstage. Guitarist Harold Richardson played most of the show with his ear glued to his amp, apparently straining to hear his own riffs.
The sound issues stood no chance of slowing the band down. Sweaty punks slung arms around one another's necks as they stomped around the dance floor, reveling in the undiluted fury of hardcore's menacing first wave. Supergroup or no, Negative Approach could have headlined this gig without a solitary soul batting a (blackened) eye.