My day started up late, circa 1 PM, nauseated and banged up from the usual “it’s probably Asbestos” climate of my upstairs bedroom. What started as just a few videos on r/youtubehaiku somehow turned into two hours and at that point, I presumed it to be the right time to start the day with some breakfast. Fish cake noodles…along with a viewing of Bad Boys II, which culminated around the slo-mo sequence where Martin Lawrence gets shot in the ass, the fated dropoff point for the eternally damned Michael Bay film which to the chagrin of the writers of Hot Fuzz, I have yet to finish. My pops and I headed down from Van Nuys to Pomona for me to hit up Gnarmageddon III at the Glasshouse and for him, to prepare for the day after of midi-tracked keyboard karaoke sessions AKA every party my family will ever celebrate AKA IN THIS INSTANCE as my grandpa and uncle’s death anniversary party version 2K14.
I arrived later than I anticipated, missing Fissure’s set (a band whom early subscribers to the Slaughterama Radio broadcast will know to be the first executioners in the now weekly “Local Slashers” feature; Thanks to HCProductions101 for preserving Fissure’s set in video here!) just in time to see The Coltranes, a band I presumptuously cast aside for too long awhile, thinking they were some local Mumford and Sons indie bullshit on denomination alone. Needless to say, whatever frequency the terror punk crew pitched at on record, was raised to a staggering infinitude live. The band played to a modest opening crowd, assaulting them with surging bass, manic guitars, pounding drums while the vocalist screamed and did odd sexual moves(including humping some amps and rubbing hands on the ass) that definitely drew the concerned eye of one or two security guards. It was an utmost entertaining set, which made up for the following two sets afterwards.
No Sir ended up having to cancel their set, which left us with Bricktop and Done Dying. I stood outside during Bricktop, shooting the shit with Wayne Toxicbreed, JJ from The Coltranes along with Josh and Vanessa whom I met at the Observatory Eyehategod show a few weeks back. Standing outside the venue, Bricktop sounded decent, but not decent enough to go in. Whilst Josh, Vanessa and Josh’s cousin(I forgot the dude’s name) soon went off to chill at a pad until Graf Orlock, I decided to go give Done Dying a shot because I saw them in Reaper Record’s distro and thought they would be hard crossover-thrashy hardcore. I was wrong. Props to the old gods for being genuine in their performance but alas it was total flash, no thunder.
Graf Orlock finally came on after what seemed like an eternity walking around the merch tables, kicking immediately into “Game Time”. What followed was a blur of choice quotes from the only the most notables in film history amongst a sea of chaotic grinded out hardcore. “Run Over By A Truck”. “Massacre!” .”Dead Man Talking”.”Couples Seeking Comfort”. Small technical malfunctions in the band’s movie sample player wrought sharp jabs between the frontman and the audience as well as attention to the odd diversity of the audience in attendance, which included old heads out to see Slapshot and Dropdead along with the usual younger powerviolence suspects and occasional California hardcore kids as well as a four year old. Shit was magical.
What followed next was the best twenty minutes of the night: Sex Prisoner’s set. I had long been a fan of the band, following a chance encounter of their debut To Live A Lie EP browsing bandcamp. That passive interest became religion when I caught their excellent set at the Despise You/In Disgust show that John Nachos and Ryan from Crash The Clubs brought to fruition. I was hungry for blood. The band took forever setting up, which mostly consisted of the band members telling the sound engineer to turn everything up, twiddling some beats and notes and telling him to turn it all up again. The singer came out in sweatpants and a Nachos crewneck brandishing the Arizona flag proclaiming that “We’re Sex Prisoner from Tucson, AZ!” before busting down their hits. The infinitesimally heavy “Judgment” followed by its sequel “Judgment II” kicked things off just right before the band demolished through a ton of heavy hitters off of their State Property EP. “Bleed Blood”. “Lip Service”.”Hard Feelings”. There were definitely some s/t tracks thrown in there but my memory fails me at the moment. “Piss When I Cum” was the highlight. Upon screaming the opening line “Get Those Crackheads Off My Fucking Street”, I split my knuckles open from punching the barricade, high on brutality. The intensity never wavered for a second as the band went immediately to “Pulp”, “Stripped To The Skin” before finally ending with their usual closer “Bottom Of The Map”. A flurry of jagged riffs and pounding beats carried the band away while the singer again carried the AZ flag. It was inspirational, like some fucked up Army recruitment video.
I spent Libérate’s set in recovery from the prior chaos on the upstairs deck next to the merch. Halfway through their mostly banterless set which consisted of the mission to play “18 songs in 18 minutes”, the singer described the band’s sound to a certain degree of accuracy. “We’re the cheap version of Los Crudos”. I wouldn’t be so harsh. Unfamiliar with the band’s catalog, I stood stiff-necked, grooving to the tunes which consisted of some of the tightest instrumentals of the night. I think they played a cover of “La Bamba” somewhere in there.
I split The Havoc’s set between watching the set, walking around upstairs and taking more Sex Prisoner stickers than I should have and occasionally reconvening with JJ while he browsed through Vitriol Record’s distro and copped some deals. The Havoc weren’t a bad group, packing a veritable mainstream punk sound. Their stage presence showed the obvious touches of having played many a show but their tunes didn’t send an impact. I’ll give them a prop, singular.
Having rested up, I soon moved downstairs and inwards towards the stage for the always tight crossover assault of Take Offense, whose set ended up providing the first major movement in the crowd since the day began. Opening up with “United States Of Mind” before charging straight into “Place Your Bet”, it wasn’t until they jumped into “Serving My Time” that I began to feel shit getting to its usual expected state of wild. Futile stage-dives off of the barricade were attempted to hilarious results with the vocalist jumping off the stage to get some gang shouts and pile-ons to up the crowd amperage. A fight or two broke out with quickly diffused outcomes with the Chula Vista maniacs finally ending their set with a shortened version of “T.O. Zone” combo-ed with “No Tomorrow”.
I decided to skip out on seeing The Stitches, hearing what little I did of them, it was worth it. The conclusion of T.O.‘s set led me on the quest for food to which I decided “Fuck it, I might as well finally try some Aladdins”. The attendant recommended a tri-tip sandwich which I was unfamiliar with and presumed to be a vegetarian dish. Wrong. It was a giant delicious roll with lettuce, tomato and some great sauces amongst more than a pile of carne asada tasting meat. Highly fucking recommended.
I returned from my hearty meal to the front of the venue, reconvening with Wayne before heading into Dropdead, a band I had yet to check out beforehand because I suck. For such a ideologically based band, the Providence group kept the banter to a medium low, ripping through one song after the next, a chaotic mixture of extremely shrill vocals amongst groovy Napalm Death-ish toned hardcore. Unaware of the hits and song forms(except the awesome “Internal” cover), I was a bit alienated by the exuberant crowd who alternated between faithfully screaming every word along with the unintelligible funnel of a vocalist and beating the ever living shit out of each other.
Following that, I returned outside once again to hang this time with Josh and Vanessa and a new friend(forgot his name, Robert?) whose eyes were glazed as fuck either from contacts or the likely candidate of THE WEED. They had some cigarettes while we traded some quibbles about how the Dropdead singer wouldn’t have approved of our dinner meals and the guy in the wheelchair wrecking shit in the pit before I ended the talk early to head into Slapshot to get a good spot.
I had only checked out Slapshot about two weeks prior to the show so it was a cool experience to see them live to experience some tracks for the first time. My prior encounters with the band were a thread on the b9 about how their banner was stolen and another video where the vocalist apologized to New York for some things he did. Given that, I was expecting some wild shit based on the mythologized image of hardcore being violent as fuck back in the day in my mind but in the end, the day ended on a pretty jovial experience. Choke, himself, captured the spirit of the set in some mid-set banter perfectly: “It’s hardcore, it’s entertainment, it’s supposed to be fun! Right?”. And so it was. Jokes about Pewdiepie from Youtube, being old and random shenanigans were had in between ripping tracks like “You’re No Friend Of Mine” , “I’ve Had Enough” and “No Time Left” and “Old Tyme Hardcore” with the set boasting the only two successful stage dives of the night. The band closed their set before returning for a surprise reprisal of “16 Valve Hate” and “I Want You Dead”.
Overall, Gnarmageddon III was a fun experience and it’ll be cool to see where the Gnar crew take the fest next year. I got to meet up with some old friends, got to make some new ones, found out what tri-tip sandwiches are and saw some bands I probably wouldn’t have been able to see all in one convenient package. But mostly, the Sex Prisoner set. Look out for that LP on A389 Recordings soon.