SATURDAY, JULY 7
I wrote a bit about the punishing wonder of Therapists in last week's column, but it bears repeating: this rambunctious quartet, along with kissing cousins Bi-Marks, is keeping the spirit of classic American hardcore punk alive in Portland. You really have to witness Therapists' live iteration to grasp this band's brand of delirium, a compact madness that flows through singer Adam Hess, who might as well have stepped out of a deleted scene of The Decline of Western Civilization. He is a classic punk frontman: a full-body version of a pissed kid's sinister sneer; Darby Crash's “puzzled panther” made manifest in the now; and someone with whom it would probably be dangerous to fuck. WATCH!
The fuzzy realm where surf, punk and garage merge is packed to capacity at this point, and Pink Slime's recently released Slime EP doesn't do much to set the Portland trio apart from the scads of beachcombing bums doing similar stuff. Having recently seen Pink Slime slay a game Club 21 crowd, however, I am convinced that this is a mere technical kink, and that Pink Slime need only figure out how to haul its frenetic live presence into the studio to become a contender. Slime highlight “Coming to Get You” is a fairly fun blast of in-the-red sleaze in recorded form, but it grows into gnarly perfection as a live number, its Dead Kennedys-esque hook charging forward with a swift intensity that makes bodies move and necks loosen and seize. LISTEN!
SUNDAY, JULY 8
This is the dark scenario I imagine led to Ripper's mastery of begrimed metal-punk: a dark and stormy night found a clutch of punks huddled over a burbling cauldron, into which myriad hands threw essential punk baubles and signifiers—a bullet belt, a bottle of Aqua Net, a Discharge tattoo carved out of a crust dude's forearm, a mite-infested dreadlock torn from some sodden punk's skull—and over which Motorhead songs were chanted in malevolent, guttural croaks, thus ushering into existence a rousing, towering sound intended to function as dark accompaniment for such timeless dirtbag pursuits as pounding cheap beer, vandalizing tony facades, pumping fists into humid air and royally pissing off mom and dad. LISTEN!
My body lets me know I'm in the presence of musical genius with a swarm of goosebumps and a warm, benign electric shock that begins at the base of my skull and floods upward to bathe my brain. It is just such a rush that the name of this column refers to. It is secular ecstasy. It is convulsive joy. It's like religion but a hella cool version that doesn't harsh your mellow if you like sex. It is into this dosed, stoked state of abandonment that Lord Dying's “In a Frightful State of Gnawed Dismemberment” delivers me time and time again. The riff that kicks in at this peerless metal song's one-minute mark is still a stunning wonder to me, and even though I've written about it at least three times in 2012, I still feel speechless and dumb when I hear it, and I'm afraid I'll just keep writing about it until I trick myself into believing that I've finally summed up its menacing magic. Which is fine by me. I'll never not need a good excuse to crank this baby one more time. LISTEN!
SEE IT: The Smashed Block Party takes over East End on Saturday, July 7 and Sunday July 8. 1pm. $12. 21+.