CURSED + Cancer Bats + Commando + Compton @ La Sala Rossa

By Angelica - BVST - 01/06/2006

After three long months of hibernation, I decided that seeing Cursed with Cancer Bats at La Sala Rossa would be the perfect antidote to the winter blues. Maybe I should have stayed home. Cursed were brilliant, of course, but I had no doubts about that. It's just too bad that they’re a hardcore band. If they weren't, perhaps going to their shows would be less about defending the scene, and more about rocking the fuck out. But I’m getting ahead of myself.

Openers Compton and Commando were pleasing enough. One brought a straight-up punk influence, while the other referenced Maiden with its metallic edge. Which is which? Your guess is as good as mine. Too many 'C' names on one bill -- coupled with the fact that I initially thought Compton Commando was a single band -- made for, well, confusion.

When Cancer Bats came onstage, and every sixteen-year-old in the room worked their way up to the front, I was fully prepared to vehemently dislike them. Too many fancy haircuts onstage at one time coupled with a very young fan base... well, you get the picture. Their set started off shakily with lead singer Liam Cormier bounding around the stage while the crowd eyed him dispassionately, but by the second song things had warmed up considerably. Suddenly all the Terror sweatshirts in the room started to make sense. Branding their sound a mix of hardcore, southern metal and punk rock, most of their songs consist of a single unrelenting breakdown. Now most of you know I like my rock big and dumb, so this should be right up my alley, and while I found them to be quite enjoyable, I wasn’t fully sold, headbanging fun aside. Maybe it's old age, I don't know.

I do know, however, that I was waiting impatiently for Cursed to grace the stage, and when they finally did I wasn't disappointed. At once punishing and poetic, Cursed are one of those rare bands who, when onstage, manage to remain true to their recorded sound without sacrificing the urgency and elasticity of live performance. They ripped through a relatively short set of favorites from both I and II with the signature intensity that continues to impress both fans and newcomers alike. Once again, though, lead singer Chris Collohan should stick to writing brilliant lyrics and avoid between-song banter at all costs. Like the bands before him, Collohan was unable to resist the temptation to bro’ down, and the stream of inanity that punctuated the set was excruciating. The only item of note: there is a third record on its way which will likely be called -- hold your breath -- III, and from the new tracks performed that night, it sounds like it’s gonna be killer.

Can I end this without a curmudgeonly rebuke to the hardcore scene? Hell no. Last time I saw Cursed, they shared a genre-bustin’ bill with Bionic, and it was a far better time all around. Rockers love Cursed, and hardcore kids can certainly appreciate Bionic’s ferocity and off-kilter time signatures. Rather than concentrating on counting scene points, everyone seemed out to have fun and rock out. I’d be more than happy to see any or all of these bands again, but not on a similar lineup. I’m getting increasingly tired of going to hardcore shows and seeing dour faces grudgingly nodding along to the music. In fact, that night, the only people that appeared to be enjoying themselves were members of the supporting bands. Five guys grabbing the mic and going apeshit in an ocean of motionlessness does not a party make, however. Maybe it’s the indie rock effect – everyone’s too cool to have any fun anymore. Promoters, pay attention: avoid the cooler-than-thou clusterfuck by throwing a rock band on the bill. Who knows, you might even be able to teach the black hoodie brigade how to have a little fun…

[Tune in to BVST every Thursday 6pm - 8pm]