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No Age, Yellow Swans, Eat Skull

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This show was great combination of punk energy and sonic textures: a reminder that rock-music's intensity doesn't have to be sacrificed from musical daring. The comradeship and open atmosphere reminded me of the best all ages shows I've been to.


Portland locals Eat Skull fit into the bill nicely with their skuzz rock bombast. Blast beats, chugging guitars, and shouted vocals firmly rooted their style in time when Hardcore was the domain of misanthropic oafs instead of preening TRL candidates. An electric organ kept things buoyant, bringing a '60s garage feel to the proceedings, making the set sound as much like the Monks as Black Flag.

The Yellow Swans were in their usual good form. Their set had a few more peaks and valleys than what I am used to from them. I appreciate noise artists give their sounds a chance to breathe, and the subdued portions let Gabe Salomon's guitar ring out before being buried by Pete Swanson's low oscillator rumblings. Their set wasn't delicate by any means, but I always appreciate some downtime between pummelings.

Like a lot of suburban kids, old school punk was my first jumping off point from the slick mediocrity of MTV and corporate radio. As my interests broadened, the atrophied styles, uniform-like fashion, and xenophobic attitudes towards the broader music community turned me off. Unfortunately there wasn't much to take its place. Portland's lifeless indie-pop consensus and lack of adventurous all age venues stifled my curiosity. No Age would have been a godsend to me during my high school days, when reconciling a shared love of the Circle Jerks and Boards of Canada was a major philosophical problem of mine.

No Age did not live down thier stellar reputation. Bands that borrow from such different styles and techniques sometimes suffer in concert from inconsistancy, but there wasn't a awkward moment. The transitions between spacious sheets of noise and taught LA hardcore were flawless but spontanius enough avoid rehashing their records. Instead of being lost in the screens and dials of their equipment, they engaged the crowd, running up and down the stage and strutting out into the crowd. The band's positive attitude was infectious. Midway through the set drummer Dean Spunt said, "It's okay if you want to loose your shit if you want." I've waited since high school to hear that one.



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