I got to this show way too early. Let me rephrase that – I got to this show about 40 minutes after the flier time and bands were just starting to show up. Punk time being both a curse and a blessing, I was able to go get some food and make it back in time for The Valenteens to launch into their set.
The Valenteens began their performance with a rollicking version of The Ramones’ “Do You Wanna Dance?” Unfortunately, tuning and gear problems caused them to cut the song short and launch into their first original early. This band manages to be both poppy and heavy at the same time, blending fuzzed out bass tone with slightly down-tuned guitar which is also layered with distortion. Still, the vocal melodies of this band are clean, catchy, and absolutely memorable. A few songs in, technical problems struck again as a pedal malfunctioned during a brand new number. Clearly frustrated, the band plowed through the rest of their set with added aggression and ended on a high note by playing the culminating half of “Do You Wanna Dance?”
Philadelphia’s Crybaby was next up and launched right into a supremely melodic, power-pop driven style of punk that I really enjoy. At times, this band gets a bit noodley on the guitar work, but overall I thought their poppy, yet energetic attack to their songs overpowered any distractions. Their tone was crisp but powerful and their drummer kept the whole racket very tight. Crybaby’s got a 7” and a split 7” around for those interested in a taste of what they’re offering.
Angry Gods from Chicago made for the second of three local support acts. Of the three, Angry Gods is heaviest of all and might even be the heaviest band in the city right now. This band is absurdly pummeling in a way that’s not cheesy, phoned-in, or overly simplistic. Watching them is how I’d imagine it feels to get hit by a steamroller. They’re loud, they’re menacing without being macho, and they are unrelenting in a way few bands are today. They maintain a punk sensibility while playing music that leans towards the more metal/doom/sludge side of things. Cursed is a good starting point for comparison, but they are far from a Cursed rip-off. This gig was their release show for their two song 7” on Nervous Habit and it is a must listen for fans of all things heavy.
Bad Side, another Philly group, was band number four. These guys play a rampaging blend of many facets of hardcore punk. Their songs are catchy and memorable, the vocals are fierce and melodic, and there are mosh parts, fast parts, and everything in between. The key to Bad Side is that they are able to blend these styles together seamlessly without it feeling forced. I wasn’t able to watch their entire set because of some smoke bombs being set off in the basement. However, I retreated to a place outside where I could still listen and, I assure you, the band did not miss a beat. Their debut 7” on Nervous Habit was also being celebrated at this show and it’s recommended.
Finally, Chicago punk mainstays Broken Prayer set up. This band is like few others around. Mixing elements of everything from raging hardcore punk to dance-based keyboards passages to shoegazey talk-singing, Broken Prayer are a wonderful amalgam of seemingly infinite influences. Sarcastic, pointed lyrics rounded out the package as the singer flailed wildly into and around the crowd in the packed Chicago basement. When this band is on, they are really on and that was the case at Albion House. They played a mix of songs from their incredible LP, as well as some new material. I can’t recommend this band enough. It’s rare I see a show with five bands in a row I’m excited to watch, but this night managed it.