The civic-minded hardcore bands of Minneapolis have spoken and here is their message: "Fuck Shelbyville!" So went the refrain from one of the Unruly Bastards' songs heard two Sundays ago during a six-band lineup at Porter's on Nicollet Avenue. You see, Shelbyville is a snarky, Simpsons-derived nickname for St. Paul. (Shelbyville is Springfield's rival twin city.) The phrase does have a nice cadence to it and is easy to scream over loud guitars. Useless Wooden Toys shouted out something about Shelbyville during their set, too, but I never did figure out what their beef was. And really, the Unruly Bastards are only mildly annoyed with Minneapolis's inferior partner. In defense of his hometown, a Shelbyvillager standing next to me gave the band the finger, but he was only kidding, too. And that was the general genial vibe of the place, which ran counter to the aggro tension I had expected to find. The main attraction was Fang, a Bay Area hardcore band from the '80s that went on hiatus when their lead singer, Sammytown, strangled his girlfriend to death while he was high as a kite on heroin. After serving eight years in prison, he reformed the band with a revolving cast. Ever since, his shows have attracted a mix of protesters and fans. At Porter's, though, the mix mixed nicely: crusty fans, partiers, and a smattering of neighborhood reps. Sammytown kept a low profile most of the night, materializing when his set began, only to disappear again at its end. Fang's bassist, Niki Siki, staked out more of a presence, performing later on as the singer for the headlining band, Verbal Abuse (covered--twice!--on a 1996 Slayer album). The rock crunched on, with a brief break so Siki could ask people to help the guy from Shelbyville find his glasses, which were knocked off somewhere on the dance floor.
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