Friday, January 6, 2012


During the 1990s, the grind/hardcore scene emanating out of the Lower Peninsula of San Mateo County was one that was looked down upon by the scenesters and tastemakers of the East Bay/Gilman scene. Personally, I cannot think of another band from that area that was more maligned by the Gilman clique of the time than Agents of Satan.

One of their first Gilman shows took place sixteen years ago at the second night of the 1996 Slap a Ham Fiesta Grande. I was not able to attend, but was told all about it the next day. From what I gathered, not very many people in the crowd understood what Agents of Satan were doing musically. One has to remember that black metal was only starting to get noticed amongst the local punks and crustys at this time. Agents of Satan proved that they were well ahead of the curve when they took the stage clad in Emperor T-shirts and corpse paint. At some point during their set, one of their friends busted a stagedive—which is a big no-no at Gilman Street—and was immediately thrown out by security. The tirade that followed from the stage was partially captured on the
Fiesta Comes Alive! compilation, in which you can hear their bassist Frank Marchi yelling, “I bet if that dude had more fucking spikes and bullshit in his hair, he wouldn’t have gotten thrown out of this place!”

The next chapter in the Agents of Satan/Gilman beef unfolded in November of 1996 when Agents were scheduled to play there with Man is the Bastard and Excruciating Terror. Back then, Gilman Street relied on a guy named “Greg Grindcore
 to book the occasional grind show. Greg was also the booking contact for Man is the Bastard and may still serve in that capacity for Bastard Noise today. Greg was setting up what was sure to be a great show, but was told by Gilman booking that there were too many bands on the bill. One of them would have to go, so Greg decided that Agents of Satan would be bumped off. 

Problem was, Greg had apparently not informed anyone in the band of his decision. When Agents of Satan showed up at the club to find out that they were no longer playing, the shit hit the fan. I remember walking outside for a breather when I saw this one-armed guy in the faces of various Gilman security guards, SCREAMING at the top of his lungs about how he had driven down from Humboldt for this gig. That was, of course, Agents of Satan vocalist Jason, who was attending school in Humboldt at the time. Humboldt County and Berkeley aren’t exactly close to one another, so perhaps you can understand why he was so upset. Considering the rage he was in, I was not about to take my friend Nick up on his suggestion to go make fun of the guy for being an amputee.

I went back inside to see the bands, but the situation only got uglier from there. Apparently, Agents of Satan and other members of the West Bay Coalition (including Max Ward) got into several scraps with people outside, leading Gilman security to declare that they were no longer welcome at the club. Despite Max’s involvement in the fights, Spazz were still allowed to participate in shows they had been booked on. A few months later, Deadbodieseverywhere got the plug pulled when Jason got onstage to do a song with them. Apparently, the Gilman staff was under the impression that Agents of Satan were trying to pull a fast one by playing under a different name. It never occurred to them that maybe Jason was in another band that hadn’t been blackballed. Accusations of being a racist were hurled at Jason from certain club staffers as well. It was difficult to take that seriously, especially since the West Bay Coalition was quite the multiracial group—much more than the (mostly white) Gilman staff of the time, I might add. Of course, the reasons for that claim or its legitimacy were never substantiated by anyone at Gilman when I tried to get the club’s side of the story.

When I first got involved with Gilman booking in 1997, one of the things I wanted to do was try to build a more positive relationship between the club and the West Bay Coalition. Agents of Satan were actually the first band I wanted to work with, but the other bookers flat out refused to let it happen. After several years of heated discussion with both Gilman booking and Jason, the ban was lifted. Unfortunately, Agents of Satan had broken up by this point. However, Deadbodieseverywhere were still at it and played at Gilman with Eldopa and Ludicra in the spring of 2001. Agents of Satan did a reunion show two years later with Municipal Waste and Caustic Christ that brought my Gilman booking journey full circle.

This is, of course, Agents of Satan’s debut seven-inch on 625. Some people prefer their later material with Kindred from No Less playing guitar, but this record—as well as their demo and tracks on the
El Guapo compilation—is a true snapshot of that time and place and the frustration that came with being part of it. Sick guitarless grind/hardcore that takes cues from Man is the Bastard and Black Flag, with a minor black metal influence that may or may not appeal to those of the grim/kvlt/nekro persuasion. Dig the grimy hardcore rap samples courtesy of 2D$ Network/The Factor, a Redwood City group that Kindred used to bust flows for back in the day. Lose your mind to Frank’s awesome bass playing, in which he takes Eric Wood’s fretboard mangling to different levels. Masturbate on the Book of Shit, avoid the red impulse, and don’t fuck with the Father of G-One.




Awesome post.

Naes said...

dude 16 years ago? fuckin hell im old. just kill me now!!!!

Dan Lactose said...

Great post Jake!

Prior to the AOS thing, there was a pretty funny anti-West Bay feud involving No Le$$ that took place within the Epicenter journals that workers wrote in while they were volunteering. Apparently No Less had played a show at Epicenter (which i didn't attend) and *gasp* a couple of them took their shirts off while they were playing (Playing hyperspeed in a small 2nd story space can get a bit warm right?). That combined with the fact that they were from the suburbs *gasp #2* and didn't wear the punk uniform of the time (which was tight pants and thrift store sweaters), they were labeled as MACHO ASSHOLES. Since Max and I volunteered there, we had to hear about it ALL THE FUCKING TIME. Eventually Max found some shit talking about NL in the journal book and shit got blown way out of proportion. Those were the ulra PC 90's. I guess we threatened the almighty MRR/Epicenter/Gilman ideal because we started our own scene where we actually grew up and lived instead of moving to an already established scene. However many years later, probably 80% of the folks who were doing bands in our little scene are STILL doing music with the same DIY ethics we had back then.

Anonymous said...

I did try to get AOS to split a set with NO LE$$. Gilman was not into it. I first kicked my band F.A.G.G.O.T. off the show so Agents could play.

Jason go into some shit with security which i did not see. AOS knew it was a long shot to get them on the bill. I was just trying to make my friends happy. There was no drama between me & the bands.

That night in Nov. '96 the only bands to play were Man is the Bastard, Excruciating Terror, No Le$$ & Noothgrush.

I booked around 10 shows at Gilman, starting with ANAL CUNT in '93 & ending with BASTARD NOISE in '05.

Yes, I still book shows for Bastard Noise, Lack Of Interest, etc.

Grindcore Greg

Brian said...

FINALLY! haha just kidding Jake! love this post, also thanks for the insight dan. what is agents up to these days? i exchanged some emails with Jason a while ago but i dont know much as to the status of this criminally underrated (though definitely not for everyone!) band. and is he still involved with funeral shock? rather, is F.S. still around? cheers guys and thanks for this, i fucking love it!

The Evil Eye said...

Haha, I've been waiting for you to stop by! Agents of Satan still play the occasional show and have expanded their lineup to include a second (or third?) guitarist. They played the Noothgrush reunion at Gilman a while back. Funeral Shock stopped playing a year or two ago.

Lucian said...

Your link to the album died. Fyi.

Anonymous said...

Hahahaha, Good times, Good times!!!!!!!!Hahahaha Agents of Satan never ever broke up by the way, just got tired of paying and playing for a bunch of worthless humans...Hahahahaa