Extreme Noise 20th Anniversary at Triple Rock, 4/5/14
With The Strike, Threadbare, Man Afraid, Dirt Poor, Scooby Don't, Kung Fools, and Bombsite
Triple Rock Social Club, Minneapolis
Saturday April 5, 2014
1994 was a different time. Bands didn't have the internet to find an audience, they couldn't Google their next show in another town, and they couldn't self-release their music without having a handful of connections. It was a time when Twin Cities punk bands worked collaboratively. Those collaborations from a wide variety of subgenres all came together to forward the cause of subversive, energetic, and inspired tunes rivaling that of any other city.
Some of those creations from the 1990s live on and inspire new musicians on a daily basis, chief among them is the Extreme Noise record store on Lake Street. Now in their third location, the volunteer-run store just turned 20 and they have massive celebrations in the works, taking part over three weekends in 2014. April 4-5 marked the first, with Saturday night featuring eight of the bands that play on 1995's legendary and long out print compilation No Slow...All Go! Most bands for the event were reunited, bringing in a crowd of punk elder statesmen who still carry that same energy and enthusiasm for the local scene.
It's tough to summarize the night in limited space -- each reunion deserves attention, as there's a story of nearly two decades for every person to grace the stage. It was a night of recognition, accomplishment, and simply getting together with old friends. It was a stacked lineup that wasn't "headlined" but had a more festival feel, varying in musical styles with an audience that clearly wasn't there just for one or even two bands. It was also incredibly efficient and well run for the number of bands involved. Turnaround time between acts was quick and the sound was good.
Midway through the night came a moment everybody was curious and excited for: Man Afraid's set. With guest vocalists taking the parts of deceased frontman Mike Griffin, the rest of the band respectfully raged and showed that their songs are as powerful as ever. While it was a night of '90s punk, there wasn't a dated aspect to it at all, further proof of the band's power. Guest vocals were tastefully done by friends of the group (who played in bands such as Bombsite, Betty Gone Bad, Kill Sadie, and the Real Enemy) and, while the crowd was energetic there was a cathartic and somewhat reflective feeling during the set. It was clear where many people's hearts were.
After Threadbare played a strong set were the Strike, who performed so tightly that it's hard to believe the band isn't still active. "The Shot Heard Round the World," indeed. Their songs are as powerful and jingoistic as ever, easy to sing along while raising a fist in solidarity. Sadly, it also proved that class struggles are timeless, with the same messages from the late '90s catalog ringing just as true today.
Playing last were Dillinger Four, by far the most nationally known of the bands in the lineup and the most active among them today. The group may have released Civil War in 2008 on San Francisco's Fat Wreck Chords label, but tonight's set was heavy on their early days, songs that were first released on Cerebellum and THD Records, and they were strong and punchy, with momentary asides from the always entertaining showmen who, at times, would rather bullshit the crowd than play their next song.
It was tight, by D4 standards, energetic, and amusing. There was also a seriousness at play, honoring the rest of the bands -- including many namedropped who have long been defunct for varied reasons. The current Twin Cities scene wouldn't be what it is today without the community that was built in part by those onstage this weekend.
The stagedives and pit area were frantic as always, and fairly sloppy. The atmosphere onstage was festive. In a set list that could have been written a decade ago by D4, it was heavy on old songs, including breaking out their old Pogues cover of "Sally MacLennane," with just a couple of selections from their later releases, Situationalist Comedy and Civil War.
It was a short set by the band, but that was more a product of efficiency: they played more and talked less, ending on a closer of "Gainesville," before Erik Funk put down his guitar and called for the crowd to stick around and get drunk. The party was still just getting started. The babysitters had been booked for the night.
Set List: I thought I'd grabbed one after D4, only to uncurl the crusted piece of paper at home to find that it just says something in Sharpie about "If you read this..." It did stink of stale beer and had a Dirt Poor guitar pick stuck to it, though. I guess there's that.
Personal Bias: I've seen Dillinger Four probably over 20 times in the past 20 years.
The Crowd: Enthusiastic and mostly 30+. Like a high school reunion, except that everybody actually likes one another.
Random notebook dump: "If you can raise a glass to the living, the dead, the 50% of us who got babysitters tonight."
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