It’s not every day I see a band I’ve known about for over 6 years. It’s also not every day that I study up on said band 3 days prior to the show, since that coincides with my discovery of the aforementioned show. A series of coincidences later, here I was listening to three albums by said band to try to at least know what more to expect, having only heard one song by said band for the previously mentioned period of 6 years. If I can make that any clearer, I’m God.
For this here tour, which is apparently the first time they’ve been in Boston in over 3 years, Death By Stereo has been genial enough to drag along the Mathcore supergroup-ish outing RETOX from their region of SoCal. These miserable fucks are headed by Justin Pearson of faslegrind warriors The Locust and Some Girls, the soundtrack to your plane crash. Opening this here festival of rock-against-establishment was local -Core crew Jack Burton Vs. David Lo Pan, which I can’t even say fast in my mind without tripping a bit.
JBvDLP did little wrong in their performance, and as I am quite new to them I can find nothing to critique about how they play without sounding like a right jerk, but something seemed a bit off and I found myself almost wishing they’d be done faster than they ended up being. They wrote songs in a somewhat predictable fahsion, with some dissonance, oddly timed breakdowns that consisted of more than one chord, 2-step parts, etc., but the build of their tunes was a tad bit lanky and dare I say, not muscular enough to hold its own in a live setting. On record they sound fabulous, but on record I’m not waiting for bands I’m actually excited to see.
Up next were RETOX, whose sole existence is to fuck eardrums in a fashion achievable by the most thuggish of decibel use.
Short songs, and even shorter tempers make the bulk of this band’s aesthetic. With their vitriolic mixture of Powerviolence, Grind, Mathcore, and a measure of sardonic wit through good humour and malicious intent, they’re not a band for normal people. But of course, if your band is fronted by the same guy in The Locust, expect it to sound like your Converge wrestling with Trap Them in a washing machine, all refereed by The Dillinger Escape Plan circa Calculating Infinity. Oh yes, it’s a headfuck, but they keep it organized enough that it’s oddly catchy.
RETOX are clearly not interested in writing mosh music, with the crowd more content with watching Justin’s lithe, almost wispy form contort, slither, and find odd ways to force air out of his lungs than causing one another injury. RETOX is a big fan of feedback, as is evident in the above video, and made sure that it sounded like a chainsaw committing seppukku rather than a computer undergoing cellular mitosis. Needless to say, it was damned loud, if the dithyrambic clatter of four men shapeshifting between angular Hardcore to borderline noise is your game, please investigate, and mind your ears.
Death By Stereo, as I mentioned before, is a band I’ve known of for a long time, but never felt an urge to investigate. I made a huge mistake there, and as a result was not ready for a band that actually seems to enjoy every second of playing live.
Now, allow me to preface the actual review of their set (which was awesome, by the way) with Efram and co’s drunken antics. Mainly Efram, but there was scandal on the hands of the other members as well.
• Efram claims that Van Halen stole “Panama” from a song that they wrote called “Boston”, which is only about 15 seconds long. If you ever needed an excuse to hate David Lee Roth, that’s it right there.
• Efram is secretly defending America from the horrors of “Post-Piano Screamo”, which was birthed in Germany by the unholy We Butter The Bread With Butter. The band’s holy water for this most egregious offence to music was a liberal dose of Slayer’s “Raining Blood”. Cross my heart and hope to die when I say it seems his crusade is waged in vain, as the unspeakable Sisyphean curse of Synthcore has already made its way to our shores in the form of Attack Attack!, Abandon All Ships, and Design The Skyline.
• The entire band except for a single guitarist and drummer Mike got off the stage to order drinks while still playing, at which point Efram stood on a stool with a full shot glass while he sang the rest of the song.
›› On that note, Efram and bassist Robbo repeatedly got off stage , the former of which grabbed and buddied around with people, regardless of how much they actually seemed to be enjoying the show, the later bumping into everyone within a two-yard radius of the stage.
• Efram grabbed a broomstick in one of these trips off stage and broke the head off on an overhead beam, at which point he tossed the lonely stick down in the middle of the crowd.
• Efram offered oral sex to the first man to buy him a beer.
• Efram frequently two-stepped and windmilled with a velocity that could remove the trunk from an elephant, often dangerously close to other human beings. Luckily no one was injured.
• Efram said Henry Rollins was Black Flag’s worst singer, and admitted that since they both live in California, he could easily be murdered by the giant himself.
It goes on and on. Wikipedia didn’t lie when they said DBS’s live shows are energetic, oh no they did not. With a small group of people out of the approximately 30 or so that were actually in the venue who sung their hearts out and hopped excitedly as the band belted out their paeans to liberation, it became obvious that they are one of the last standing great Metalcore bands. And I mean Metalcore as in a true fusion of Hardcore Punk and legitimate melodic Metal riffing inspired by Sweden’s legion of Melodic Death and Iron Maiden alike. They were one of the bands that actually spawned a lot of the common tropes associated with Metalcore, but it seems everyone’s forgotten who they should thank. If their reawakening in the form of this tour proves anything, it’s that Metalcore isn’t always a misnomer.
What I lacked in knowledge of lyrics, I made up for in appreciation for being able to see a band that I’d always thought had a pretty cool name, as well as having one of the angriest songs I’d heard for a while, entitled “You Mess With One Bean, You Get The Whole Burrito”. Always made me hungry, that title. Death By Stereo are one of those forgotten legends that inspired countless bands but are lucky to get even cursory mentions and play in front of a small audience in a neighborhood whose venues smell like spilt beer on a good night. Good music sometimes just doesn’t hit it big. Actually, scratch that, it almost never makes it big. That’s why Green Day plays in Gillette Stadium and most of the Powerviolence bands from the 90s are defunct.
If you get a chance, even if you don’t know them well, go out and see this band. They’re quite friendly, and care more that you enjoy that show than if you know all their songs word-for-word.That’s the positive thinkin’ that got me a picture with Efram and Dan “The Man With The Handlebar Mustache That Is Straight From An Era When Strongmen Were A Thing” Palmer!
I have also been awarded the distinct honor of having the best shirt of the night, so fucken ace night overall. I just wish I weren’t the only person under 21 there.