Show review: Wardance Orange, Tri-State Killing Spree, Wow Owls, The Catalyst.
The Catalyst started things out. They got added to the show at the last minute after Vindication were forced to bow out. This was a shame, since Tri-State Killing Spree played a lot of shows with Vindication back when we were around, and I was really excited to play with them again. Vindication bassist Michael Backus still played the show, but as a member of The Catalyst, whom he’s just joined on bass. In fact, I believe this was his first show with The Catalyst. You couldn’t tell from watching them, though; they were as good as ever. Strangely enough, they decided to play on the stage, a move they generally forgo due to their having two drum kits. I’m sure they gave the sound man fits, but he found a way to mike everything, and they played a tight set. The Catalyst are quite original in sound, mixing modern hardcore with a post-grunge style that resembles Nirvana in a way that none of the second and third wave grunge acts of the mid-90s were ever able to pull off. As far as I can tell, the factor that makes the crucial difference is that The Catalyst are taking influence from the more punk-oriented elements of Nirvana’s sound, as opposed to the 70s rock elements that were what all the grunge acts took away from them. The Catalyst’s set consisted mostly of new material, with two songs from their outdated first CD, "A Hospital Visit", thrown in. Rhythm guitarist/second drummer Jamie Faulstich has joined since the recording of that CD, and he adds a lot to their sound, especially on "Chronic The Hedgehog", an old song that has taken on a whole new dimension with the addition of Jamie’s second drum kit on the last half of the song. The jam on this song extended for about 8 minutes and surprised a lot of the crowd, most of whom hadn’t seen The Catalyst before. Hopefully they blew all of those people away, as this was one of the better sets I’ve ever seen them play, and by rights they should have knocked the whole place on their asses.
Next up was Wow Owls, and I feel bad saying this, but I was so nervous due to my band’s playing next that I saw almost none of their set. What little I caught rocked; they played at floor level, which is ideal for them, and Jeff went apeshit as usual. Jeff’s stage presence makes him one of my favorite frontmen in hardcore today; I love the way he’s simultaneously nerdy, spastic, and totally heartfelt in his performance. I’ll miss seeing these guys once they break up.
After that, Tri State Killing Spree played. I don’t remember much of our set, but I do know I fell down during the first song, and also that I accidentally spit on my own leg twice. Thank God I was wearing long pants.
Wardance Orange played last, and were the first band to play at stage level since The Catalyst. This was ideal for them, just as the floor had been ideal for us. It was pretty amazing seeing these guys get up there and play these songs again after not having played together for upwards of 7 years. All four band members dressed identically in black, and Chuck in particular seemed really excited to be playing again. I know KC has a band, though I don’t know what they’re called, but I don’t think any of the other guys had played music in public anytime in the last few years. They’d obviously been practicing, though, as there was no loss in proficiency or tightness between the last time I saw them, in 1998, and this show. They neglected a lot of their earlier material in favor of later songs that I wasn’t too familiar with, which I was sorry to see, but I ended up liking the later stuff pretty well after all, so it wasn’t but so bad. I wish they’d played a little more fast stuff, but that’s about my only complaint. One highlight came when KC introduced their song "Coming To The Endtime", saying, "This song is about Y2K and all the bad things that it was going to lead to. Glad to see we were right about that prediction." They finished, of course, with "Richmond Belongs To Me", their modification of an old Cocksparrer song to make it apply to our own town. That was kind of cool, but I felt kind of bad for them. I’d hate for my best-loved song to be a cover.
On the whole, it was an awesome show. Brandon Peck of Wow Owls organized the entire show, including the duel band reunions, as a benefit for survivors of Hurricane Katrina, and the show ended up raising around $750 towards that cause, which Brandon donated to the Red Cross. Meanwhile, Tri State Killing Spree gave away an entire box each of LPs and CDs, 100 copies total. Our drummer was tired of having to haul them with him every time he moved. Good riddance. I mean, I hope the kids who ended up with them liked them, but still.