The Casualties - The Observatory - April 3, 2013
April 3, 2013
The stench of street punk filled the air at the Observatory in Santa Ana, as NYC legends the Casualties brought their obnoxious, sped-up brand of 80s hardcore punk to a room full of rabid fans. As part of this year's 'Resistance' tour, openers included Havok, Goatwhore, and a special performance by Dr. Know.
Two songs into the set, the Casualties guitarist Jake Kolatis insisted that the Observatory remove the huge barricades in front of the crowd in an attempt to get closer to their fans. He certainly got what he wanted. More than 100 skanking stage divers joined the band onstage, eventually, Kolatis and company became part of a beer-fueled mosh pit. Even with all the chaos swirling around them, the band wanted to ensure that there was no bad blood in the crowd.
"We're here to let out some aggression, and have a good time, we don't want any fights!" Kolatis barked under his colored Mohawk to the aggressive, bald, shirtless slam dancers. "We hate authority, government, racism, wars, the cops and all forms of oppression!"
Evoking the memories, and sounds of English Dogs, Exploited, GBH, The Business and other 80s hardcore punk, the Casualties, bring in a subtle heavy metal sound, which pleases fans that prefer to slam dance and head bang simultaneously. What sets the band apart is the singer's distinct vocal style, which is more akin to death metal than traditional UK Street Punk. The Casualties are well known for music that addresses issues such as the struggles of the working class, unemployment, police brutality, street life, violence and oppression. Formed in the early 90s, the current line up consists of Rick Lopez on bass and vocals, Kolatis on guitar and vocals, drummer Marc Eggers and singer Jorge Herrera.
Considering the Casualties flirt with metal in their sound, it was not surprising that two metal bands were brought along as show openers. Colorado's Havok, got the crowd off to a good start, as fans were piled in early to see this thrash band, which formed in 2004. These youngsters seemed at home with a flair and attitude that was reminiscent more of the 80s Bay Area Thrash metal scene than with street punk. But, somehow the fans didn't seem to mind, as singer/guitarist David Sanchez unleashed high pitch vocals and savage speed metal guitar riffs that cemented the band's Slayer Worship, which the crowd seemed to enjoy.
However, the crowd reaction was not as well received for New Orleans-based blackened/death metal heathens Goatwhore, whose Satanic blend of Scandinavian black metal bands like Emperor, Mayhem, or even old school acts such as Hellhammer, Venom or Celtic Frost just didn't seem to click with a crowd of mostly punks.
Yet, halfway through the band's set, some of the thrashers, longhairs, stoners and skankers couldn't let all black metal/thrash influenced guitar riffs, machine gun blast beats and malevolent vocals go to waste. But overall, the floor was half empty for one of extreme metal's most hard working bands. Lead throat Ben Foulgoust from the extreme metal act Soilent Green and guitarist Sammy Duet from the cult band Acid Bath gave the Observatory a stellar performance, but the crowd for the most part seemed only half interested, in wait for The Casualties. "Have fun the Casualties, up next!" yelled Folugoust before exiting the stage.
The special performance of the night came from Dr. Know, the legendary 80s Oxnard based hardcore/punk/crossover band. But, contrary to what some in the audience may have thought, this was not the classic punk band with the line up featuring original singer Brandon Cruz (who also once sang for the reformed Dead Kennedys from 2001 to 2003).
This version of the band, was the no frills version featuring guitarist/vocalist Kyle Toucher, Mike Purdy on bass, Mike Vega on drums and guitarist Tim Harkins, all members of the band in the mid to late 80s. By far, Dr. Know had the biggest slam pit of the night, as the longhairs, thrashers, and spike haired punks all united in the pit. You could smell the piss and sweat, if you were that close to the floor.
Kyle Toucher seemed more like a metal axe man than a thrash/punk front man, but the crowd still was amped up for the entire 45 minute set of raw, punk infused speed metal that appeals to fans of Slayer and The Exploited.
But, for some of the elder metal and punk non conformists and purists, this led to some confusion, as many showed up well after Dr. Know had finished, and Goatwhore was already playing, expecting Dr. Know to play directly before the Casualties.
All in all, this turned out to be a successful punk show for a Wednesday night in Santa Ana, considering the slam dancing stopped just after 1am. It was a refreshing, interesting, night where Satanic black metal, thrash, crossover and punk united. For those who simply can't get enough punk/metal and need their fix, don't worry, this same tour (minus Dr. Know) is playing in Alhambra at a venue called The Vex, thrown on by Poor Kids Radio, the All Metal/Punk radio Web show broadcast every Saturday at 12 midnight on www.breal.tv.
The Crowd: Many youngsters in punk t-shirts and lots of crusty gutter punks in ripped shirts, slashed pants, tons of patches, died hair, and Mohawks, Devilocks, and liberty spikes galore. Throw in s a hundred or so longhairs, thrashers, and the typical beer drinking miscreants in Slayer and Misfits t-shirts, ranging in age from Middle Aged, to early teens.
Overheard in the Crowd: A man in an Ill Repute shirt smoking a cigarette outside, immediately after Dr. Know's performance. Told his friends and some others standing near, "This F***g sucks, I thought that band that just played was Goatwhore!" That was Dr. Know?!"
Interesting Fact: All three bands on this tour have played to International Crowds. Havok has toured North America and Europe supporting Testament, Exhumed and Forbidden; while Goatwhore has toured Australia and Europe with the likes of Venom, Celtic Frost, Suffocation and Cannibal Corpse. The Casualties have toured with countless punk and metal bands all over the US and South America, where they are very popular.