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Being a fan of legendary early ’80s Boston hardcore band DYS since I was a teenager, until their reunion last year I never dreamed that I would get a chance to see them since they had been broken up since their self-titled second Lp confused their original fanbase and went nowhere. In the more than a quarter of a century since then, their legend mainly rests on their 1st Lp Brotherhood, a landmark in early straight-edge hardcore that was a massive influence on the entire Revelation/“youth crew” scene of the late ’80s (think Youth of Today, Bold, etc.) and the many subsequent bands that followed in their wake.
This version of DYS reunited vocalist Dave Smalley (later of Dag Nasty, ALL, Down by Law and The Sharpshooters and a solo artist as well) with bassist Jon Anastas. Though the other members are different players, some with backgrounds in other Boston bands of the time period like Jerry’s Kids, having Smalley and Anastas, the two main songwriters, is crucial. Their set did not disappoint. Playing a mixture of material from Brotherhood and DYS along with “Wolfpack” from their original demo tape (a song which in its recorded form featuring none other than all 3 members of Hüsker Dü on backing vocals), they exceeded everyone’s expectations. Though opener “More than Fashion” and other Brotherhood slammers like “Open Up” and “Circle Storm” were obvious highlights, the songs from the second record sounded surprisingly forceful and a lot better than their recorded versions. I wasn’t the only one who posited that perhaps this was how that record was intended to sound. The performances of “Graffiti,” “No Pain No Gain” and “Late Night” completely obliterated their recorded versions and felt much more of a piece with the Brotherhood material during the set as well. It should also be mentioned that they covered Motörhead‘s “We are the Road Crew” and even played a new song called “Sound of Our Town”. Could this possibly mean the first new recorded DYS material in over a quarter of a century? That remains to be seen.
It was also my first time seeing Antidote, a reunited early ’80s New York-based hardcore band mainly known for their 1983 Thou Shalt Not Kill EP, which for years was a highly collectable and almost impossible to find 7” until its recent reissue. I’ve always viewed them as well as other bands of the time period in New York like The Mob, The Abused and Urban Waste (who were actually supposed to play this show, but canceled) as bands who bridged the gap between earlier New York punk like Reagan Youth, Kraut, Even Worse and The Stimulators (i.e. some of the bands featured on the great ROIR compilation New York Thrash) and the later “NYHC” bands (Agnostic Front, The Cro-Mags, Murphy’s Law). Singer Drew Stone called his band a “perennial fluffer band” because they’ve also opened recent shows for the aforementioned Agnostic Front (including some where they played their 1st Lp Victim in Pain in its entirety) and now they got to open for another legendary band. In any case, Antidote delivered a short, sharp shock of a set whose lack of original material was filled out by several Minor Threat covers (“Filler and “I Don’t Wanna Hear It”) and Black Flag‘s “Rise Above”. They were the second band of the evening to cover Minor Threat due to the proximity of Baltimore to Washington, DC.
Following the theme, the band who played before Antidote was Face Value, yet another reunited hardcore band, although one who hails from Cleveland and were active from the late ’80s to the mid ’90s. Musically, their set was less straight-up hardcore punk than a mixture of that with obvious heavy metal and even classic/Southern rock leanings at times. This made for a more diverse and honestly more enjoyable set than was perhaps expected, but the music took a backseat to the entertaining ramblings of singer Tony Erba (an avowed classic rock and Southern rock fan, so the musical influences make sense here as well). Although in the past some Cleveland bands from that time period and scene have been associated with right-wing attitudes towards immigration (One Life Crew immediately springs to mind here) and other issues, to his credit Erba spoke out against the recent attacks on collective bargaining and other union and workers’ rights in his home state as well as nearby and surrounding states like Michigan and Indiana, warning the small but receptive and enthusiastic Maryland crowd not to let it happen there, either.
Openers Hands Tied, who feature Tim McMahon (formerly of ’90s NJ straight-edgers Mouthpiece as well) and Gordo, creators of and writers for the awesome webzine Double Cross) and Mindset both played straightforward, no frills, bare bones, no-thrills hardcore that could’ve fit in nicely on any CBGBs matinee circa the late ’80s. Hands Tied also covered Minor Threat’s “Out of Step”, once again in a nod to the geographical proximity to the origins of Minor Threat and the straight-edge movement and philosophy.
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