I had only heard Shoot The Blitz once before and keeping with the overall feel of their album, I was indeed a little drunk. Not knowing what to expect at one of their live shows, I sat with my ears as wide open as a clear country day in the spring. Their style was kept to a bare minimum, but that’s not to say they were one-dimensional. It was obvious they had their fair share of gems to pull different sounds from. While out in the fields, they seemed to have stumbled on plenty of old Lookout! Records, stripped down, twelve-bar, garage rock, straight ahead raucous punk and a ska sensibility that they couldn’t leave there to die like some wounded animal. They managed to go from dirty to bouncy in gallant strides throughout their sonic terrain, completely natural and unforced. The catchy sing-a-long choruses that sat atop melodies bared witness that this was a band not to be taken seriously- but not too lighthearted either. It’s probably a safe bet that other than their record collection they had other little treasures packed away- beer, parties and a good time. They were more than willing to share their coveted jewels with us, if only for one night.
Though originally from Louisiana, there’s no way you can tell when All Rise takes the stage at The Milestone. Right away, their grimy street punk grabs you by the throat and refuses to let go. Though, I don’t think anyone minds that. Although they fit right into a particular place, they stand on their own ground, by their rules. Crunchy guitars and a spitfire rhythm section coupled with Tyler’s vocals makes for an unforgiving assault on the eardrums, all with the energy of a pent-up lunatic lashing out all at once. With songs like “Farewell to Humanity,” it’s hard not to sing along and keep pride in the gutter. It’s always such a pleasure to see these guys live. The Charlotte area currently doesn’t have many bands like this, not that it needs it. If it were a game of Capture the Flag, I don’t think anyone would be brave enough to wonder over to the All Rise side and take it from them.
What can be said about The Dirty South Revolutionaries that hasn’t been said a million times before? Rowdy till death? Check. One of the craziest live shows you’ll ever see? Check. The perfect mix of punk and metal and all that is holy? Check. What started out as a “super-group” has become one of the most notorious bands to ever crawl out from the dirty underbelly of the Charlotte area. The brazen sounds of the world falling apart, screw by screw, have set the stage for many great shows I’ve seen over the years. Through drama and lineup changes, jail time and about six million beer bottles, in the end all that matters is family. It’s a beautiful sight to see the crowd chanting “D.S.C.” over and over again while feedback drones in front of them. It’s just downright good southern hospitality served with a nice “fuck you.“ Lots of pretentious words have been thrown around about this band but since when is it about that? Besides, that’s not very rowdy. After all, isn’t it supposed to be fun?
I’ll say it- South Side Punx is one of the best bands to have ever come from Charlotte. And I’m not sure too many would disagree with me. Every time they deliver without flaw, without compromise, without apologies. They come armed and their volatile mix is always rabid and ready to spill into the streets. They are truly original Queen City, no bullshit hardcore. Call it what you will, I have no time for semantics or splitting hairs. To me, it’s just the sound of revolution, one that is long overdue and one I’m quite sure they would be more than willing to spearhead. It was supposed to be non-smoking, but some outlaw smoke billowed like chimneys through the air as they tore through track after track. Fast, loud, abrasive and always keeping the psychedelic undertone present in most songs, the very raw Mudhoney and Stooges influences fit like puzzle pieces to the smoke and the sweat of the crowd- all hungry and lean. We could have all suffered some tragic event that night but while dancing or nodding or smiling while they screamed what we felt, it wouldn’t have mattered.
The last band of the night, The Toasters, hailing from New York City, set up and we were quickly dancing. Their infectious ska beat is slow like gangsters in the dawn- straight up second generation skank for all the kids to let loose to. Rolling bass lines with tight skins made their two-tone very uniform and hypnotic in its dance-ability. The horns were dirty and pulsating. Feeling almost like bop of the twenties at times, it oozed with style and grace, an elegance that no one seemed to know could accompany songs of the working class. From very slow to an upbeat that went crazy, it was pure delight and bliss. Nothing else like it on a Tuesday night. The sometimes clean and sometimes crunchy guitar kept us warm as we danced and some were carried to the rafters.
You could not deny the reggae that flowed through their veins and you could not deny the pure energy with which they performed. Those are the best bands; the ones that you can tell really dig what they’re doing. And I’ll be goddamned if we weren’t digging it too.