Friday, March 1, 2024
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All we actually needed was to be about twenty years younger. Everything else would come together naturally. We would be horny teens on our way to alcohol, recreational drugs and pop punk. Instead, we were almost midlife teenagers on a road trip to old school punk and its derivates. Some alcohol included, because hangovers feel deadly perilous at our age. But then there was “God Bless Alcohol” by an insatiable Animal and now I’m sure we’re not all that middle-aged anymore.

A rather poor joke, even I’ll admit it. However, it was a fairly killer show. The three of us, differently inclined towards headliners of the evening, went ahead early in the evening and drove into the sunset. Picking up a few laughs along the way, we hurriedly arrived at the venue only to find the show delayed. A bit though, not too much. Rather expectedly, a poor interest in the opening bands resulted in the fact that only I needed to get inside to report of their performance. Which brings me to a situation that I need to discuss here.

If there’s one type of person I hate, it’s a weekend punk. Even further, an aging weekend punk, a type that shows up when Anti-Nowhere League, The Exploited, UK Subs and their contemporaries are in town. Otherwise, they keep to their comfortable couches, neatly upbringing the pregnancy bellies. Luckily for them, occasions do arise, like this one, when their wives let them stay out past 8 PM to reminisce on how punk they are. Here’s an awkward truth: you’re not in a slightest bit! So, do everyone a favor and bugger off!

One angry rant later, I can go on describing what went on at the stage. The pair of German bands that opened the show were here on a different business. Their tour just crossed lines with the two headliners who, if I’m not mistaken, are also not on tour together. So, a lot had to happen for this line-up to gather together. And there’s an example of how punk should function. Instead of making three events on the same day, drawing audience from one another, the pack assembled in SKCNS Fabrika for a mass encounter.

Anyways, Thrufall was the first. And the first thing I spotted was the backdrop for both opening bands. It was spraypainted in Cyrillic. I don’t know if there’s a member (or more) coming from this region, but it really stuck with me. Unfortunately, their music did not. Not that I expected it to. I was never a fan of metalcore. Bits and pieces, here and there, a song or two by a band or two… Thrufall’s performance cannot be blamed, though they seemed a bit out of their comfort zone on a big stage with the crowd hanging behind the fence. Still, there was enough energy and power for a selected crowd to have a good time.

Another rant of mine might just be a sign of an aging weekend punk being created. Though I was always very much against overly violent behavior at shows, considering it a misdirected anger, the type of idiocy I’m about to describe is the pinnacle of acting like an imbecile. It’s that dreadful looking windmill type of flapping your arms with never-no-mind of your surroundings. Honestly, I see no point whatsoever in endangering anybody’s health in such a manner. I mean, we’re all here to have fun, enjoy the show and then you go ahead and break somebody’s nose, head, chin or whatever else… Simply moronic!

The second band on the bill was Dethroned, also from Germany. I won’t say support band because they are on tour with Thrufall and the fact they are opening for D. R. I. and Anti-Nowhere League is strictly coincidental. However, what needs to be said is that they made a bigger impression on me than their predecessors. Still, I cannot say it was enough for me, as I’m not a fan of their genre of choice either. Unlike Thrufall, Dethroned dropped their tuning and included much more death metal in their metalcore fusion. While the tuning offered sonic density that could’ve shattered the listeners’ innards into smithereens, the creative effort of the songs left me unimpressed. They championed the hardcore pieces, showing they are probably stemming from the roots of overly east coast hardcore, death metal parts were not their strongpoint. I’m left with thoughts of hardcore Obituary, since the rhythmic diversity is another segment where Dethroned shines.

Both Germans’ performances were rather short and then we had a chance to witness one of the slowest changeovers between bands. My best guess is that there was simply too much stuff to shift since the two tours collided and backlines needed to be completely changed. I cannot be sure, though, since setting up the cymbals to the existing drums seemed to last forever.

Whatever the case may be, we were about to hear the fusion between metal and hardcore the way god intended it. Crossover demigods were about to set the stage on fire. Only, they didn’t. D. R. I. seemed tired. Like a blown-out balloon. Their music is packing radioactive heat. Their lyrics are venomous. Their performance on Friday night was far from impressive. Even if the crowd uncritically moshed throughout, the band members controlled the output of energy. Considering it was my first time with their live appearance, I’m rather disappointed with a band celebrating forty years. A massive milestone which should, against the odds, supercharge them on a mission to show the crowd what made their name, worldwide.

Dulled out by the performance, I went to the merch table which offered much more than was apparent on stage.

Unfortunately, the Brits had nothing on offer at the same table. Anti-Nowhere League came as raw as was possible and dominated the night, though it is fair to say their competition wasn’t even in the same league (pun intended).

Now, the first time I heard Anti-Nowhere League I thought I was listening to Napalm Death. Weirdly enough, I thought this grindcore thing wasn’t as bad as I thought from the explanations of my friends. As it turns out, someone made a grave error of dubbing “Scum” by Anti-Nowhere League and writing on the cover that it was Napalm Death’s album of the same name. Metallica got me even more confused later on (don’t even get me started on the twists and turns my mind had to untangle to figure it all out) and I must admit it took me quite some years to get to the truth behind Anti-Nowhere League.

Honestly, the whole truth and nothing but the truth was on display right in front of me last Friday. Rude, crude, loud and uncompromising punk. The set comprised of mega hits included only “Woman” that did nothing for the present crowd. Other tracks were very much in line with the expected. And the audience reacted accordingly. Animal’s interaction with us was on the level. However, what nobody seemed to have told him was that he was not singing in Belgrade, but Novi Sad. I’m not sure how many people noticed him thanking Belgrade time and time again. Anyway, his lewd gestures, dancing and calls for singing along did the job. Experience, definitely, but also, he was apparently driven to good mood by an audience appreciating what was going on. Rest of the band was following him closely in showing up to the stage to have fun. As indicated by Tommy-H stepping into the crowd for the final solo in the encore repetition of “So What”.

A supreme showmanship and staying true to themselves (whoever they may be), as proof of old punks not quite growing old.

Rather saddening, I was unable to attend the meet-and-greet with Anti-Nowhere League held at the venue the day after. There was talk of possible interview and even without it, I would’ve loved an opportunity to at least shake their hands and take photos with them. Still, a round of applause for a band that decides to use their day off with fans and press in this manner. And a middle finger for a journalist loser that cannot avoid other obligations. Next time I will know better.

P. S. This time I have some photos as well. Actually, I have a brand new smartphone and I wanted to test it out here. Unfortunately, I thought of it only by the time Anti-Nowhere League was onstage.

 

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