Total Trash tape release at 7th St. Entry, 3/14/13
Photo by Erik Hess
Total Trash Tape Release/Tour Kickoff
with Brain Tumors, the Miami Dolphins, and Ugly Motors
7th St. Entry, Minneapolis
Thursday, March 14, 2013
A sign was created somewhere in the midst of the promotional blitz for Total Trash's tape release. It included the slogan "TAKE BACK THE ENTRY FOR THE PUNX." Graying mohawks may scoff at the idea, but as First Avenue slowly made the transition from "local music bar" to "national destination venue," its darkened sideroom has mostly followed suit. Gone are the days of cheap and dirty MDC/Dillinger 4 matinee shows on 7th Street, and the punks themselves seem to prefer the lack of oversight that comes with the house-show circuit. So Total Trash's decision to have their tape release in this particular room, with all its history, was actually something of a statement: "We Belong Here." Damn right they do!
Photo by Erik Hess
Openers Ugly Motors had a lot going for them. There was a fresh-from-the-basement gawkiness about them -- as if they hadn't played a bar with a stage before and were unsure what to make of the newfound leg room and exposure. But, their bass player had a T-shirt with puppies all over it, which automatically puts you at an advantage for this kind of thing. Also, he's awesome. Somewhere in between Steve Harris and your classic punk-bass archetype, the guy was all over the stage and easily the most fun member to watch. The singer-guitarist's shirt was a Butthole Surfers number, which would make a decent comparison for his group, whose sound mixed lurching noise bits with chugging garage and trash-surf elements. In a weird twist that often happens at these kind of shows, they actually played the longest set. Not necessarily a good thing, but the band still managed to be thoroughly endearing thanks to a shambolic charisma and friendly chemistry.
Photo by Erik Hess
The Miami Dolphins kicked off what would become a reccurring trend for the night and jumped into the crowd directly in front of the stage before their soundcheck had even finished. The three-piece band of dudes specializes in caustic and thrashy surfcore with a pronounced technical streak, and their diminutive banshee of a lead singer, Beth, rounds out the weirdness nicely. Dressed more like extras in a Wes Anderson film than punks, the Dolphins' squalls of noise and jagged, rapid songs still managed to get a pit started. My favorite song of theirs is still something of an oddity in their set, the midtempo and uncharacteristically melodic "étoile," which was still thoroughly unique and winning.
While I'm not sure it's their style, I could have used a bit more physicality from Miami Dolphins during their set. Beth's constant journeys into the crowd started to feel a bit ho-hum after it became clear she wasn't going to hurt anyone. It's the kind of trick that works great in a basement but requires a bit of a different approach in a venue like this. Diving headfirst through the fourth wall has to contain an element of danger or it quickly loses its shock value.
TC Punk is an interesting cross-section of interlocking scenes, and the presence a crew of heavies in full-on spikes-and-denim regalia signaled that their was a much harder band about to take the stage. Also wading into the crowd right off the bat, Brain Tumors' mustachioed lead singer made a crack about his band's intention to actually use the stage: "You're actually going to have to do some fucking work tonight, Minneapolis," before tearing into their first song. He was lying, though, and threw himself headfirst into the pit, causing all hell to break loose and sending kids scattering in all directions like skinny pinballs.
Photo by Erik Hess
Quickly joined by his bandmates, leaving only the drummer onstage, the intimidating frontman threw his entire body into the performance in a way that only hardcore singers with beefcake bodies can pull off. Brain Tumors were tour-hardened enough to pull off blisteringly fast guitar passages while taking elbows to the neck, and charged their way through a brief but bruising set that contained several bits about honeybee mating rituals that the singer had heard about on NPR. One such rant ended with a mostly full PBR dumped on his face and the microphone by a fan, and I counted at least four more during the set, causing the Entry's floor to become a sticky, smelly ice rink and sending kids in the pit flailing.
Total Trash quickly set up their gear, seemingly determined to retain a bit of the madness Brain Tumors had created, and launched into their portion of the night with spastic charm. Once again, singer Jessica Katz showed her disdain for personal space conventions and threw herself at the audience, long hair whipping with abandon. Total Trash has a dissonant, buzz-saw take on the classic West Coast hardcore of groups like the Germs with a bit of the melodicism and riot grrrl intensity of the Gits, and their punk bonafides are unimpeachable.
Photos by Erik Hess
Dustin McChesney is a blast to watch on guitar, a skinny, gangly firework with an ADD stage presence that had him standing, sitting, kicking, rolling on the floor, and kneeling in front of his amp to coax new heights of feedback from his instrument. Powerhouse rhythm section support from Jared and Joel ensured that their attack had low-end drive that pounded the crowd like a freight train, leaving Katz and McChesney to screech against their songs chaotically.
The young band had a great chemistry despite their relatively short time together, and in the rare moments when the singer and the guitarist were onstage together they'd steal romantic glances at each other that added cute to the chaos. Closing their set with a spot-on version of "Chinese Rocks" by the Heartbreakers that captured all of the song's propulsive, shitty glory, Total Trash ended their set, no encore, and walked over to the merch booth. The punx took back the Entry, all right.
You Don't Try
Chinese Rocks (The Heartbreakers)
Critic's Bias: Grew up going to shows in the local punk scene, Jessica Katz and I used to work together.
The Pit: Nice and rowdy, with a healthy dose of punk BO.
Random Notebook Dump: Accidentally head-butted a dude during "Chinese Rocks." Left eyebrow still swollen.
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