Tuesday, January 31, 2012

MegaRepost: Shit Gets Smashed

Shit Gets Smashed was a compilation released by East Bay Menace during the local scene’s supposed “dead” period of the mid ‘90s. While Green Day and Rancid were blowing up big on MTV, a number of their peers formed new bands that mostly shifted towards a darker sound than their more melodic outfits of years past. Of course, I am referring to the “Oakland crust” sound, which has roots in older bands like Crucifix, Neurosis, and Christ on Parade. With a couple exceptions, Shit Gets Smashed documents all of the bands that played that style around here back then. Eldopa, Ojorojo, and Multi-Facet represent Oakland Satanic darkness, while Apeface were up to similar hijinks in San José. The Oakland bands have admittedly had better moments elsewhere, but the Apeface tracks are the best I have heard from them. Despite this being thought of as an Oakland crustcore compilation, that is hardly the case. Punk of a more straightforward nature gets its due with Hot Rod Shopping Cart, Squat, and Masterbaiter. Feel free to drench yourself in cheap beer to the rollicking drunken punk stylings of Strychnine, Mickey & the Big Mouths, and Loaded. Not all of the bands are from the East Bay either—San Francisco, San José, and Petaluma are also included. 

I should admit that listening to Shit Gets Smashed does not always bring back pleasant memories. The mid ‘90s were both a fun and frustrating time in the East Bay, which is a subject that has been (and will continue to be) covered here numerous times. Tribalism was abounding, as people were much more rigid in their punk rock identities than they are now. New blood was not easily accepted, especially what with the amount of mainstream bozos flocking to Gilman Street after reading about the place in Rolling Stone. However, dealing with the bullshit was a good test of one’s resolve. Plenty of lessons were learned that later got applied in ways that made things better around here. With that in mind, I appreciate being able to have witnessed some of the things I saw as a teenager, both good and bad. 

Whether anyone likes it or not, there were things happening in the Bay Area in the years between the first Neurosis album and the Ramen Days DVD—certainly more than just A.F.I. and Oppressed Logic. Shit Gets Smashed proves that, although it has faded into obscurity to some degree. Here is your second chance (actually third, considering this is a repost) to enjoy the evidence.

Friday, January 27, 2012


Reina Aveja may have hailed from Gainesville, but it would be foolish to believe that they had anything in common musically with bands like This Bike is a Pipe Bomb or Against Me. It would also be a bad idea to lower your expectations based on bassist Jessica Mills’ previous stint in the awful ska band Less Than Jake. These queen bees churned out toxic sludge that could have sent every folk punk, ska kid, and doubter running for their lives. Fortunately, their sentiments appeared to be a bit removed from the drug-addled self-pity that is typical of most bands of their ilk. Simply put, Reina Aveja was a band that sounded like they were legitimately having fun playing heavy music. Stranger things have happened.

Reina Aveja came out here on tour at the end of 1998, playing an ill-attended Gilman show with another Gainesville band called Panthro UK United 13. Apparently their drummer Becky had such a great time, she called home and told her husband Judd that their plans to move to New York had changed. They moved to the Bay Area instead, bringing Reina Aveja vocalist Jen Roberts with them. Upon their arrival, the trio started a new band called Brainbloodvolume with Robert Collins of Artimus Pyle. They didn’t last long, but Jen eventually lent her considerable vocal talents to I Love a Parade, which also boasted ex-members of His Hero is Gone, Econochrist, Grinch, and Eldopa in their ranks. Becky and Judd regrouped some time later with Laudanum, who is still with us after weathering a number of lineup changes.

Chances are you didn’t give a damn about Reina Aveja when they were around. Now you have a second chance to catch up with this criminally underrated stoner sludge unit, so it’s okay. Really.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

MegaRepost: Neurosis - Live at 924 Gilman Street 4/28/90

One of our first posts was this soundboard recording of Neurosis playing at Gilman Street in April of 1990, which certainly warrants a second look. I mistakenly thought this was the same recording as the Short Wave Warfare bootleg, but you can still rest assured that this one is a million times better. If you are in the camp that enjoys their material up to The Word as Law, then you will appreciate the opportunity to add this set to your hard drive. Neurosis crushes the audience with twenty songs of Oakland punk darkness before taking off on tour or whatever this show was a benefit for. A few of these songs are still in instrumental form, but none came out as finished product on any future Neurosis records. Someday I will have to post the Econochrist and Filth sets from this same show, but it will be quite some time before that happens. Until then, get high and lose your mind with Part 1 and Part 2. Click on both of those links so you can get the whole set. If you are a moron, click on only one link and live a halfassed life.

Friday, January 20, 2012

Nobody's Wiping

Despite what I said about State of Fear some months back, I think it goes without saying that Misery stands tall as the undisputed kings of Twin Cities crust. Perhaps someone else who is more active in the area’s punk scene than we are can tell us differently. Until that happens, their claim to royalty remains intact amongst the hygienically challenged masses. This record was recorded live in New York City and released by the famed Squat or Rot label in 1993. For a live recording, this isn’t bad at all. Misery sounds exactly as how one should expect them to in this setting—a godawful drunken racket. These three songs are staples in their set too, at least from what I have seen of them. One is a spirited cover of the Amebix favorite “Nobody’s Driving,” which sounds like your drunken loser friends in the garage after a couple of 40s. To me, this is another one of those records where you can smell the stench of stale malt liquor and other assorted aromas emanating from the grooves. Unfortunately, we do not provide the piss-yellow vinyl or the back cover photo of some dude’s crusty ass for the full effect. That might be quite all right in your book though. Just get wasted and enjoy the tunes, fuckhead.

Friday, January 13, 2012

Medicine of Thieves

Sixteen years ago, I was at Gilman waiting for the first night of the 1996 Slap a Ham Fiesta Grande to start when my friend Ben came running up to me in excitement. Totally stoked, he informed me that tonight’s show featured a surprise jump-on band—Copout, who had blown minds at the previous year’s Fiesta Grande. I really loved the Copout seven-inch and wanted my own copy, so I rushed over to their merch table to say hello. Unfortunately, Ben was a little too excited to get his info straight. Copout had broken up quite some time ago, so they would not be playing tonight after all. Instead, it was their new band with a weird name: His Hero is Gone. I think they caught the disappointed look on my face and reassured me that things hadn’t changed much between bands. Fine, I will keep an open mind and see what these guys are all about.

By the end of their set, those of us who were bummed about the Copout tease had been won over by His Hero is Gone and their blistering doom-and-gloom hardcore. With newfound looks of excitement on our faces, we flocked back to their merch table for anything they had for sale. Everyone bought their T-shirts except for me. I only had enough money to choose between a shirt and a demo. Judging by this post, I think you can guess which choice I made. Can’t say I have ever regretted that decision.

The die-hard His Hero is Gone fans might find it funny, but the
Medicine of Thieves demo was always my favorite material of theirs. Most of their records never really grabbed my attention the way this demo did. Don’t ask me why; I have no idea. Maybe it is because they still managed to sound heavy and overpowering with an eight-track recording. Perhaps it was because Todd killed my enthusiasm by talking way too much between songs every other time I saw them live. Ultimately, it is more than likely due to my being there for that first Gilman show and how special that entire evening was to me. Too bad I didn’t think to tape them off the Gilman soundboard like I did with Charles Bronson, Spazz, and Phobia that night. Wouldn’t that have been a nice bonus to this tape?

I have seen copies of
Medicine of Thieves with a different cover, but I don’t know what the story is with that version. Rest assured that this is the same tape that I purchased from His Hero is Gone themselves back on January 5, 1996. I have taken good care of that tape ever since then and I am happy to share it with all two or three of our readers today. Join Team Murder USA here.

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.