Live (April 4th, 2010)
The Parkside - San Francisco, CA
The Parkside is located in a not so full-of-life (at least at night) part of downtown San Francisco. The entrance of the venue is tricky, since the front door is actually the way outside, which justifies the strange look on the face of the Security guy when I hold him out my $12… I finally got in the little courtyard with my big “X” on both hands (underage drinking is EVIL in the US).
After a quick glance at the venue, two things came immediately in my mind. First, A Wilhelm Scream played here few months ago, and given the small stage and homemade barriers, this may have been a great time. Yeah I was supposed to go, had my ticket and all, but Pinhead Gunpowder decided to play their secret gig at Gilman on the day, I couldn’t miss that, even for a band as good as A Wilhelm Scream.
Second thought: poles = danger while being in a circle pit. I had an unfortunate lesson about that in Paris, you DO NOT always control the direction you’re going towards while in a circle-pit.
Around fifty people were gathered in the venue with time to drink a beer or two before the Orange County’s quartet named Longway opened the show. The band played a good warm-up show, with a punk sound taking its influences from Bad Religion and talking about beers and tattoos. I had a preference for the song “Junkie”, and liked the guitarist’s energy as he was running and jumping all around the small stage.
Somehow, the pit is not really awake yet; it’s mostly people shaking head in rhythm, and nothing more, so the singer decides to re-teach the basics. He asks us to gather in the front and start walking in circle, and then running. The first circle pit of the night is launched, but it’s too small to even start to worry about the poles.
Cobra Skulls, who recently signed to Fat Wreck, are next. The sound is immediately better and the pit starts filling with more people as the band plays a good mix between country and rockabilly, a little bit like The Living End.
It’s now time for the highly anticipated band, Broadway Calls, to hit the stage. I had the opportunity to see this band perform twice before as openers; however, I never really got into them. Despite that, it was clear that the audience was there for them that ight, given the pogo that started few seconds after the first note. People gather at the barriers, trying to grab the mic to sing while (not always successful) crowd-surfing starts. Once again, the band was for me a good warm-up without being a real pleasure, except maybe during “Back to Oregon;” even though most people in the crowd seemed to be really enjoying the performance and sung along on almost every single song.
The Flatliners were next, which brings me back to two year ago in Paris for my first show ever, when they were touring with Germany’s Not Available and The Loved Ones. At that time, I thought the band took themselves too seriously. And let me tell you that this feeling has not changed. The band was always asking for more bass, less voice, more voice with that kind of arrogant look in the eyes. Anyways, given what they play, I’m totally willing to forget about that.
For those of you who don’t know the band, The Flatliners play highly energetic punk rock with hardcore and ska influences (There’s A Problem, KHDTR), with solid bass lines and a high debit, almost non-human voice (Fred’s Got Slacks, Public Service Announcement) and guitar riffs that stay stuck in your head (You Guys Want One Of These?, 407). After a demo and a stunning first effort “Destroy to Create” on Stomp Records, the band signed to Fat Wreck and releases The Great Awake and Cynics (7”), before their upcoming “Cavalcade”, due April 13th.
Talking about Cavalcade, Chris announced during the show that they will sell their new album for the first time at the merch table that night, almost two weeks before the official release date. To convince us, the band drops the album single, Carry The Banner, as well as Bleed from the new album. The pit doesn’t seem to be really receptive, and pogos are happening only when someone will finally decide to burst into the small pack of people gathered in the front, or when Broadway Calls’ bass player decided to crowd-surf on me.
Maybe people were only here to see Broadway Calls perform? Or maybe the not-so-good sound repelled them a little bit? Or maybe it’s because of the band’s multiple pauses taken to re-tune Chris’s guitar because according to him it was “being a real mother fucker tonight.” Hopefully the band will tell cool jokes and anecdotes in the meantime, because I was about to smash Chris’s Les Paul into his pretty face and tell him not to speak anymore but to play and sing, because when they do, they’e really good at it.
The good thing was that some songs were known by everyone, which made Parkside sing along during July! August! Reno!, the awesome Fred’s Got Slack, and the well-known Eulogy that put a perfect ending to this downtown San Francisco punk rock night.