Saturday, November 17th 2018
The Bends, St. Petersburg FL
Photo cred: Matt Valler Photography
When Paul of Leadfoot Promotions announced his first gig earlier this year at Fubar (soon-to-be-RIP, what the fuck?), starring BiteMarks, Meatwound, Horsewhip and Low Season, I got the feeling there wouldn’t be any ironic renditions of Nailing Descartes to the Wall. Clearly I wasn’t the only one who found Paul’s penchant for putting on flesh-centric acts funny (even Low Season has a song about fishing and cursing the red tide), because in a delicious continuation of the joke we are tonight treated to the seitanic stylings of travelling gluten-salesman Uncle Mince, and his World Famous Seitan. In my bonus cup review of Horsewhip at Fubar (what the ACTUAL FUCK?) a few weeks ago, I made the throwaway comment that I was such a hungry vegan I could eat a seitan-assembled horse. I say we all chip in to help Mince make that happen and we wheel that sucker down to the local Food Not Bombs chapter in Williams Park.
“I’m into the version of punk that destroys barriers to entry and screams poetry of inclusion, pushes sonic envelopes and makes space to crush mainstream values based on competition and hatred,” so declared Permanent Makeup bass-voice Chris recently on the Fedbook, basically endorsing giving away plant protein to homeless folks. Well shit, dude. Way to make my task of trying to describe your ever interesting aesthetic and sound easier and/or more redundant. It’s from the Shred Shed to the Shred Submarine Base for the post-whathaveyou band, where last night Chris and drummer Susan hosted Kentucky femme grungers noncompliant and the pisspunk locals of Piss Ghost. Permanent Makeup are an act that show you can push exciting sonic envelopes without relying purely on Sonic the Hedgehog speed, and that it’s okay to be funny in your art, so long as you aren’t lazy (just listen to some of guitarist James’s live vocal deliveries). Since quality art comes with acknowledgement of The Real Shit, the band here take a brief time out to mourn the fact that Florida is now once more in the hands of a shit governor. So to speak again of Sonic, and his wild hair, bollocks to a blue wave, how about no wave! With satisfying weird interludes scattered all over! What we need is a Permanent Shakeup. Chris is looking to start booking gigs for touring musicians soon under the name Trend Decay. Always such cool names for stuff.
Industrial farming critics Meatwound from across the way in Tampa are fronted by “master race traitor” Dan, who was at one time a member of 90s grindcorers Combatwoundedveteran (as was Jeff Howe of Horsewhip actually). Tonight he is wearing a Def Jam t-shirt. If you lot were hoping to do a Beastie Boys style transition from extreme rock music to rap you might be overplaying the warm up period of your career, guys. This is pulverising, heavy shit, although I will happily say that if you’re of the timid disposition their live presence is more obviously tuneful and less scary than when played through tinny laptop speakers (even with The Bends still having their Halloween decorations floating around this late in the month).
When compared to his speaking voice, Dan’s unnatural growl helps make Meatwound feel like a plodding giant that generally minds its own business, but if you should be so foolish as to fuck with it, you will be beaten senseless. Their recent releases are spread over a meaty slew of labels, such as Dead Tank Records from Jacksonville (who also released/distributed the latest stuff by Horsewhip and Permanent Makeup, actually), and Magic Bullet Records, whose incredible gonzo bio for the band really captures what it’s like trying to survive in this orange-splattered, polluted shitmachine of a region. This horrific impression of so-called civilisation is presumably what led Meatwound to give last year’s full length the title of Largo.
The writhing, violent body of dissatisfaction lurking beneath the thin veneer of civilisation is one of the things that continues to make classic hardcore punk performances so appealing, decades after the genre’s heyday. Enter BiteMarks from Gainesville. With just enough experimental flourishes to make things interesting they feature Matt from Assholeparade (spaces between words were not cool in your mid-90s band name, okay?) on bass, and impressively rapid drumming from yet another talented James. Who needs a Minor Threat reunion? (I’ll tell you who needs it: fucking nobody.) Then there’s frontwoman Dita, hugging the walls here when she’s not leaving BiteMarks in them, and reminding somewhat of St. Pete’s own Lauren Elizabeth, flying around all over the place and into the crowd as if to ask them what they think they are doing just standing there (see here for a previous exposure to Elizabeth, along with Uncle Mince and Permanent Makeup).
There’s also something in her confident, room dominating energy of a Shirley Manson, if she had grown up in Floridurgh instead of Edinburgh. I recently learned that Manson once took a piss in the middle of a Spin photoshoot (to return to the topic of femme grunge piss punks), but the magazine, worried for their squeamish and presumably penis-owning advertisers, edited it out. Dita allegedly had a similar moment here amidst the flashes of Matt Valler magic, which a more cynical punter than me might think was a reason for the bands’ blindingly short fifteen minute set rather than their dedication to hardcore brevity. I am extremely satisfied but not at the same time. I want MORE, like the insatiable vegan that I am. Where’s that fake mac and cheese peddler?
Twelve more minutes of glory can be found on BiteMarks’ recent album Sucia, available on single sided pink vinyl with a silk screened b-side. Get it from Belladona Records. It features some hilarious fake music history nerdery in the liner notes, written by friend Mike Taylor.