Punk Is Not Destiny

Andrew Nogay

Web Content Contributor 

The stage pre-show.
The stage pre-show. Photo by Andrew Nogay.

The hardcore punk scene is an interesting subculture in Austin. The same people show up at every show, bands share tons of members and overall seems rather inclusive. However, the music produced is excellent. The people involved with the scene obviously care, and at the worst the shows are at least interesting. This past Saturday, there was a show that went beyond being just interesting. It was the return of Wiccans, who were playing their first show in their home state in about six months. Along them played the raging outfit known as Glue, Houston bands Sexpill and Common Ignorance, and the new band on the scene, Strutter. Now while five bands seem like a lot, it actually wasn’t that lengthy of a show. After all, it is hardcore punk. Wiccans played the longest (by far) and their set was only about 30 minutes, while I don’t think any of the other bands played for more than 15.

The first band to go on was Strutter. It is comprised of veterans of the hardcore scene, and I believe it was one of their first shows, if not their actual first. The thing about Strutter is that they did not have a drummer, though their singer mentioned they were looking for one. Instead, they had a drum machine. Not an actual drum machine, but it seemed like they had drum sounds that they recorded themselves. Now I will say this: the guitar, bass and vocals for Strutter were good. Their demo is really good. However, the drum machine just sounded out of place. Drum machines can, and have, been used effectively, but with Strutter you can tell it’s a placeholder until they get a real drummer. It didn’t mesh well with their music, but they’re still a band to keep an eye on.

Sexpill were up next, and they impressed. There were two things that stood out to me during their set. First off, they had a very cool style. Their music was punctual, but continuous. There was hardly a break in their set at all. The last song they played in particular was top-notch. Secondly, their singer had a glorious mullet/mustache combo that was nearly as interesting as their music, and I mean that as a compliment. Also during this set some kid right in front of me lit off a mini-fireworks, and immediately got kicked out, which I enjoyed.

Common Ignorance was the middle band to play, and I was unprepared for how good they would be. Perfect P**** is the gold standard for female-fronted hardcore bands nationwide, and though I’m not an expert on this subject I would put Common Ignorance near the top of that category. They were almost grindcore in how heavy they were, and used noise masterfully. There wasn’t any moshing during their set, which I attribute to them being so good that people just wanted to listen to them. However the singer seemed to interpret that as the crowd not being into it, since she said “ya’ll f****** suck” then got off the stage as their set ended. Which is a fair assessment honestly.

Glue is probably my favorite Austin hardcore band, and they were the second to last band to play. The first time I saw them, about two years ago, the singer of Glue got on stage, yelled “This one goes out to that guy who shot that cop!” then went right into their set. It was crazy, offensive and powerful. In other words, totally punk. Every time I’ve seen them since, their sets have been raucous messes of greatness. This time was no exception. The only downside to this show was that they had to cut their set in half due to time restraints. They were scheduled to play for 20 minutes, but because they were late setting up (or something, I’m not exactly sure) they could only play ten. Despite this, the crowd was absolutely wild and they’ve never sounded better instrument-wise. Because their set was so short, I actually have more desire to see them again. The law of scarcity actually worked in Glue’s favor accidentally, at least for me.

Wiccans' set.
The Wiccans were so good that it caused the lights to go crazy and the shutter speed on my phone’s camera to be awful. Wait it was always awful? Right. Photo by Andrew Nogay.

Wiccans aren’t from Austin, but it seems like they play there enough to be at least be considered involved with the scene. Maybe I’m just saying that because of how much Austin loves them. After all, Waterloo Records did put their last album on their list of best overall albums of 2012. The only other time I’ve seen the Wiccans, more than two years ago, they had an awesome, energetic set. This time, they were different. They were just as energetic, but they just seemed professional. This time I noticed how talented they were as musicians. They were refined, while keeping the punk spirit. It was an impressive display. They didn’t just play a great set for a local punk show; they played a great set for any kind of venue, for any kind of genre, for a band of any kind of popularity. They knew how to play the crowd like they’ve been going for decades. When they played “Biology Is Not Destiny,” one of their most well-known songs, they started out by blaring noise, then subtly playing the irresistible guitar line underneath before exploding into the song. The crowd nearly collapsed upon itself. Bodies were flying everywhere, people were yelling, and I think someone in the audience devised a whole new religion based around the song. Then the Wiccans let the song go a little bit, got slower, less aggressive. Then beneath the song ending, the same guitar line started up again, it started building, and they went right back into it. The audience went just as crazy as the first time. It was the kind of moment that isn’t accidental. It is something that bands can only accomplish through hard work, talent and creativity. 

Right after they played their last song, somebody in the crowd yelled “Holy f*** that was amazing!”, which summed up the thoughts of everyone pretty accurately. Until next time, it’s probably the appropriate lasting thought about the Wiccans.

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