August show reviews: Street Eaters at the Redwood, Dot Hacker and Crooks on Tape at The Echo, Paul McCartney at Chavez Ravine, Zeros at Los Globos, High on Fire and Arctic at The Echoplex, Slint at the El Rey


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Street Eater’s badass new album is relentlessly raw and heavy, and I was stoked to hear the East Bay duo’s latest rippers alongside favorites at The Redwood. Holy crap, they are one of my favorite bands ever, empowered by straight-up DIY punk via Gilman and pushed over the top by the two-way animalistic empowerment that happens between two human beings who dominate at their instruments. Did I mention that their lyrics are smarter than shit? So good.

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There were two great openers, too. Nerve Beats are a somewhat jazz-infected, melodic punk trio in the tradition of the Minutemen and Nomeansno. Coming all the way from Honolulu, of course they were really nice dudes as well. I bought some hand-burned CD-Rs and really dig ‘em. I’d tell you which songs especially rule if the titles were listed somewhere.

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Blank Pages came all the way from Germany to share their ultra melodic punk a la Mannequin Men, Snuff, or Buzzcocks. So much polish with no irony. They were so sincere I’m pretty sure the Great Pumpkin would give them Mohawks for Halloween. What a set and I was stoked to stumble upon them here in the U.S.

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The next night I went to The Echo to see Dot Hacker. You know, featuring Josh Klinghoffer from the Chili Peppers and Jonathan Hischke from Hella, etc. Their sound features abstract vocals and gorgeous yet challenging textures: noisy, proggy, dreamy. What a treat to see this team of world-class musicians in a dive lovingly playing unpopular music straight from their hearts.

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Opening the night was Crooks on Tape. It took a song for me to realize that John and Rick from Enon were in the band. Very heavy but very catchy, too. Experimental and noisy music for people who like to dance. See those vintage CRT monitors on the left? There was way more out of frame and I’m not even going to get into the pedals.

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Paul McCartney at Dodger Stadium. The Beatle returned to the scene of his old band’s second-to-last show for a crowd-pleasing, mind-blowing three-hour clinic.

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If I could only catch one band at the Bezerk Town Fest, it would be The Zeros. So that’s what I did, along with my wife, brother, sister-in-law… Bass player Hector is not only one of my favorite musicians (O.G. SoCal punks or otherwise) but one of the nicest guys–a supporter of Save Music in Chinatown from Day 1. How could I not support and say hi?

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I love how The Zeros, who play a brand of rough but expertly written and ultra-catchy garage rock, fit right in with anarcho punks, gutter punks, etc. in a sweaty brick room with poor lighting and rockers of all ages. There was some action in the pit and everyone seemed to know all the words.

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Out of all the great Zeros songs (“Don’t Push Me Around,” “Beat Your Heart Out,” “Wimp”…) I have a new one. Hector dedicated “They Say That (Everything’s Alright)” to the recently deceased Billy Rath from The Heartbreakers. Wow, what a rad tune. I think it’s up there with Johnny Thunders’ own “You Can’t Put Your Heart Around a Memory” in terms of bittersweet classics.

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A week later, I saw another dude I know onstage at the Echoplex. Don Nguyen was with his homies in Arctic. I dig the heavy garage vibes of the Sabbath-worshipping skate trio, and love hearing them tighten up just a little more with every show. How does the pro skater juggle music with the ripping, branding, and everything else?

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Of course, the headliner was High on Fire. Haven’t seen the lords of heavy jamming in years but I still knew which side to stand on: Matt Pike, stage left. I could really feel the master hesher’s amps blowing right through my mortal skin and bones. My ears were ringing for days afterward. I was a little worried.

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Did I mention the show was totally free, courtesy of Converse? So why wasn’t it more crowded? Were followers of Vans offended? I don’t think the Oakland band were even wearing Cons, so whatever.  Killer set, huge riffs. Catch ‘em whenever your ears can handle it. (Or the other part of the two-headed snake, Sleep.)

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Went to the El Rey for the first time in a while last week. Tropical Trash were opening and they were pretty fun, channeling the more jammy side of the SST catalog. They were from Louisville, same hometown as headliners Slint.

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Never saw Slint before. I think the band has been playing more often since reuniting than they did the first time around. Rather awkward, rather arty, and very intense. It was cool to see them in this more intimate and manageable warm-up show before FYF. What a treat. For some reason, it seemed like half the crowd was from San Diego…

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Of course this post’s title is a misnomer because there’s one more show I gotta catch this month and it happens to take place in America’s Finest City. Yes, the Drive Like Jehu reunion at Balboa Park, which deserves its own post… Seeya there!


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