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Five Bands at 924 Gilman on 5/4

By August Edwards 

Who cares about your feelings. It’s raining hard and your clothes get soaked before your eight hour shift? You had too much coffee and you wanna throw up really bad? The world spins on! Who cares if you’re tired and all you can imagine is going home after work and sitting down and staring at a wall! 

It doesn’t matter how much work and rain suck because the sun always comes back up. Which sounds corny but in the case of Saturday 5/4 the sun literally came back out from behind the clouds. And my manager let me leave work an hour early. So, I went to 924 Gilman St. to see some screamo.

The lineup made for a total hailstorm. Most of the songs of the night were short, the longest ones sat below four minutes and were outnumbered by the ones that hovered around one minute. Every set punched me in the gut. Every set left me fiending for more. 

My friends starsdontmeananything kicked off the evening at 7:30. Allow me to remain a little abstract here because I need to tell you that their sound swallowed me up. Sometimes describing how something sounds is difficult because live music, especially live hardcore music, is a full body experience. The all-encompassing noise eviscerated any lingering feelings I had from the day. 

starsdontmeananything are aerobic and fast. Frontman Adam Smith even fought to catch his breath after a few songs in, showing what a physically demanding task he created for himself. And at the end of the set, Smith melted to the floor, tossed his guitar from off his shoulders, incoherently wailed on his pedal board, and then picked up the pedal board and smashed it on the ground. It felt right. 

Next up was New Low from Santa Rosa. This band locked the fuck in - playing together, they had the force and momentum of a semi flying down the highway. And while they had some definite grooves I could bounce to, I got the sense that they were doing some complicated shit (however effortless it appeared). The frontperson faced the band for most of the set, which I thought heightened their sense of unity. 

The audience went crazy for screamo band Love Spiral. At this point, people sunk into a comfortable rhythm of moshing and dancing in the front. The vocalist began by explaining that their first song was a love letter to their past self, which resonated with the crowd. I think creating art and sharing it with others what will have you feeling thankful for everything you've endured. Like, if this night reflects my life, then I'm thankful for the versions of myself that have led me here. Beyond their conceptual content, Love Spiral put out thrilling music with redhot riffs. The bassist's work was particularly arresting, too, leaving me mesmerized by funk. 

I could tell from the moment Choking Game seized the stage that they weren’t just out to play - they were out to shove music up my ass. The name of their game was heavy. Towards the middle of their set, the vocalist said that 15+ years ago she saw her first Gilman show, where Monster Squad performed. Just recently, she had the opportunity to see them once again in the same space. This was a touching moment and kind of underscored a theme of the night.

Sporting threatening masks, ties, and nametags, Mormon Mincers lived up to their title as they served sludgy grindcore to end the night. Their commitment to performance provided some levity that the fifth band going on at nearly 10:30 would definitely benefit IF they needed it. The audience was still rapt, and this was largely due to the fact that Mormon Mincers kicked ass. 

Pictured above, in the foreground you can sort of see a staff-like shape. That's a lightsaber that a kid swung around all night. It did kind of piss me off, especially the way he was swinging it around in the circle pit - like, it just seemed dangerous. Like bringing a weapon to a dance fight. Or however the saying goes. But maybe I just hate fun…

It's worth noting too that each of the bands and Gilman staff displayed tremendous professionalism and hustle which allowed for a really smooth progression of the night at this legendary Berkeley venue. I wouldn't have wanted to be anywhere else. Even when at one point I leant against the wall outside to take some (unhelpful) notes and all I could smell was concrete marinating in piss, I could see the beauty in it.

In a recent Instagram post, starsdontmeananything ended a caption with “take care of each other, we’re all we have.” And it’s just an Instagram post but that line kind of captures the essence of going to hardcore shows. Me personally? I always leave hardcore shows feeling inspired and taken care of. Like when I saw Texas metal band Kublai Khan and vocalist Matt Honeycutt said in between songs “this one’s for all the poets,” which opened my eyes to the soft side of heavy music. The music that happens on stage wouldn’t be possible without the support and action from an entire community. Which is corny, but loving life is corny business.

Who cares about your feelings? A lot of people do.

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