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BEST CONCERT OF THE PAST 12 MONTHS Minneapolis 2002 - Code 13

Readers' Choice: U2, Target Center; May 1, 2001

The space is a sunlit, warehouse-size indoor skateboard park. Half-pints are riding the half-pipes as a shaved-headed Felix Havoc surveys the room. He's standing ten feet from the floor on a stage he helped build. In front of him are about 550 punks and other fans of hardcore and thrash, many of them standing on wooden ramps cleared of skaters. Records and zines are being sold to crowds of collectors near the door. Spikes, garish hair dye, and painted black leather jackets are everywhere. It's like 1984, but with more piercings. "Somebody dropped a safety pin," Havoc quips. Then he asks, "Are there any mohawks with mustaches here today? No? I saw a lot of those down South. That's my favorite punk fashion statement." The owner of Havoc Records is one of the few local label mavens who have seen the country and the world many times over. Behind him is his seminal band Code 13, which remains a cult item among the hardcore internationale. Today his old crew has reunited for this nine-act daytime festival, which Havoc put together, and they appear eager. Suddenly, with the traditional four clicks of the drumsticks, the guitar-bass-drums launch into a light-rail-speed shout-along that everyone in the crowd seems to know. Though Havoc's voice is too hoarse to roar, the audience is happy to help out, and the pit erupts with all the quiet grace of an unfolding hockey riot. The aggression may not seem controlled, but it is: Though the festival is overseen by members of Minneapolis's finest, organizers later report no tussles with the law, no fights, no smoking, and no visible drinking. Even the brave (or is that nuts?) stage divers who leap from atop onstage speakers get up again without apparent injury. Only the ringing in everyone's ears requires healing the next morning.

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