Iron Reagan/Debt Neglector/Leviathan Cross @ Fubar, St. Petersburg FL – Monday, September 24th, 2018
Reality Asylum/Slow Code/Laser Mouth @ Emerald Bar, St. Petersburg FL – Monday, September 24th, 2018
A last minute tour addition for thrash monsters Iron Reagan led to this free gig clash in venues one street apart. For the organisers of both, coordination was not just considerate but wise, and so we were treated to three hours of almost non-stop sock rocks and the chance to improve our pedometer scores. First on the roster of unique bands is recent discovery for me, Laser Mouth. While still pushing the big screen animation, the drumz-powered noise duo aren’t accompanied by a light show this time around. Perhaps lights or lasers would be dangerously blinding in an Emerald Bar, or perhaps the band suspected we were all sensitive because of the storm that had raged for hours earlier in the evening, turning my laundry attempts into a nightmarish survival run. Laser Mouth are, importantly, still loud and fun though, and provide us the excuse to enjoy a three minute cat video under the pretense of a (slightly) higher art setting than normal.
Next is an act who might well have orchestrated the lightning show as a backdrop for their performance, mystic doom rockers Leviathan Cross. With a name that suggests a love of sulphur and fire outstripping even Four Fists and their upcoming 6666 album, the band provide slick slabs of heaviness as thick as the crowd of bodies that has already gathered in anticipation of the Ironborn. It speaks volumes that I’d rarely be drawn to something of this character, but it’s good, intense material with a strong set ending. The Tampa group released their second EP All Is Dust in late August. They’ll be supporting another underground big shot, once again at Fubar, on October 21st, when they play with Torche and Horsewhip just in time for the Deathly Hallows.
You won’t hear it from many punk scribes, but there’s a lot in the world that could be improved by a proper slowing down. Slower food, slower work, slow economic growth (preferably followed in short order by degrowth then a steady state economy). I expect that these beliefs are broadly shared by Seattle’s weighty post-hardcore thinkers Slow Code. On new record Wastelayer, vocalist Charlie Wagner is reminiscent of Dennis Lyxzén of Refused (makes sense) and Daryl Taberski of Snapcase (who were originally called Solid State). Live, those vocals are a bit harder to make out, rather like obtuse economic messages, no matter how important they might be to those of us shouting against the tide of “common sense” in the mainstream. The band are on stop twenty-five of a forty date tour to be fair, and pretty goddamn far from their usual climate. For the final third of their stretch Slow Code reach down inside to utter a few words of thanks and their energy levels perk up. I was unreasonably excited to learn that the song Semiascetic was an ode to the late Mark Fisher, who (like me in many pieces this year) was all into talking about the politics of time through music culture, or The Slow Cancellation of the Future, as he put it. Apparently I equally made Slow Code’s tour when they learned I had heard of him. Being a nerd punk is not always about referencing Nintendo games.
Heading back to Fubar, Paul from Leadfoot Promotions is all about both the Slow Code and literal lead footedness, limping defiantly along on crutches after a bike ride gone astray. Dedication. With the preceding act having raised the bar on artistic academia, Debt Neglector are expected to deliver something along the rhetorical lines of David Graeber (anarchist author of the celebrated Debt: The First 5000 Years). While such specific predictions can only lead to disappointment, the Orlando melodic punks do have a pretty political backbone, featuring Alex Goldfarb of New Mexican Disaster Squad on the mic, and making a special dedication here to the bands with serious messages that influenced them. The cover of their first album Atomicland brings to mind a few relevant things, such as public circus distractions and the Punk-O-Rama VI artwork, and their upcoming EP, The Kids Are Pissed (out October 26th on Smartpunk Records) features a Descendents-influenced song about the anti-Nazi dissidents in The White Rose. The Debt Neglecter practice space was shittily robbed a few days prior to the gig, so anyone in Florida who comes across an Orange Terror 500 bass head and an Orange Thunderverb 50 guitar head for sale should get in touch with them.
Reality Asylum recently won the title of Best No Wave Violation of Personal Space in the Best of The Bay awards. I’d like to take this opportunity to award them their “Most Likely to Appear in Radical Beat” award for the year also. Moog manipulator Ricky begins by dedicating the set today to a friend of theirs, MJ, a longtime roadie and Jannus employee who passed earlier in the day (R.I.P. to him). I was shocked just a little while before getting here to learn that Tampa Bay had also lost Sydney Eastman, a too-young activist for immigrant rights and sex workers rights that I met a few months ago at the Tampa Occupy ICE camp. Fucking shit state of affairs, it is. Eastman would no doubt have respected singer Lauren’s shameless sexuality owning, and with the excitement of their new accolade she seems to be pushing the wild furniture climbing to a new level. You want to abandon a beer? Well fuck that beer. You like smoking in here? Fuck that full ashtray. You want to go watch Iron Reagan? Well we will make it as difficult to pull yourself away as possible. New material is starting to sneak into the Reality Asylum setlists, like the squelchy Prodigy-esque number Strangler Gloves, and despite listening to them a bunch this year I remain excited to see what they have coming up.
The entire floorspace of Fubar is a human blender of protein as Iron Reagan begin their performance. The lack of room relegates me to the backside of the stage, where I get a very good view of bassist Rob Skotis’s arse, and damn near all the band’s backsides. Considering we are living through what the layperson might call “the arse end of Reaganomics” (the neoliberal zombie staggering on 10 years post-crisis), it seems perfectly appropriate, and besides, not seeing Iron Reagan’s faces makes them about 0% less fun to watch. It’s a fucking blast, whether screaming Fuck The Neighbours with 150 adrenaline junkies or wondering if someone will take up Tony Foresta at his request that someone stage dives off the goddamn bar. I’m so used to the arses that I’m thrown off guard when Foresta about faces, marches directly towards me and leans down to ask “Is anyone from Debt Neglector out there?,” meaning outside, where I essentially am standing. Um, dunno mate. I didn’t really get a photographic memory of their faces when they played. Nice to see you have a Siberian Meat Grinder shirt on though. Covers include Aus-Rotten’s Fuck Nazi Sympathy and something by Cannibal Corpse, received by the human protein with the same excitement as all of Iron Reagan’s own catalogue. As the waves of people careen all over the place I’m inclined to ask myself WHY DID YOU WEAR SANDALS YOU DAFT FUCKING HIPPY? Even crossover thrash fan Jesus Christ is wearing sensible boots!
The new Iron Reagan EP, Dark Days Ahead is out October 12th on Pop Wig Records. Hear the preview track Patronizer at Soundcloud.