June 20th | Highbury Garage, London
We’ve been granted a huge treat at the Garage tonight, with two of California’s finest and most ferocious punk bands coming together under one roof.
As ever, Sacramento’s Trash Talk look the perfect hardcore outfit, as if they’ve been drawn up in some cool comic book about the LA scene (check out Slander‘s animated video for proof). Garrett Stevenson and Spencer Pollard snarl on the wings, thrashing at guitar and bass respectively, and drummer Sam Bosson is a total animal. It’s frontman Lee Spielman who cuts the most imposing figure though. With mad eyes peering out from behind long, sweat-soaked hair, he’s off the stage and throwing his weight around at the first opportunity during doomy opener Hash Wednesday. Spielman is relentless throughout, his only respite arriving when he demands a circle pit of his audience before calmly sitting down in the centre of the chaos. The aggression with which Trash Talk commit their assault beggars belief at times, almost to the point of being comical. If their tunes have an average length of 90 seconds on record, tonight that average drops well below the minute mark, with Explode and Walking Disease serving as highlights of one of the most savage sets you’re ever likely to see.
Watching Trash Talk is fucking knackering (in a good way, of course), but Off! are more than capable of picking up tonight’s crowd and pushing them even further. Whilst the age gap between the headliners is significant, the two share the same desire to tear the gizzards out of their audience. Having fronted Black Flag and Circle Jerks in past lives, Keith Morris is a dirty old prince of punk rock. In trademark fashion, he slowly and politely introduces each member of the band before opening with a downright nasty rendition of Panic Attack.
With the rest of the band having played in the likes of Redd Kross, Hot Snakes and Burning Brides between them, Off! are seasoned campaigners, and as such, hold the unique combination of knowing exactly how to work a crowd with all the energy that comes with being part of an exciting, emerging punk band with a debut album of fresh material to work with. During I Got News For You, Keith controls the place with the effortless nature of a man who’s done this so many times before, yet still relishes every second. Evidently his love for the DIY approach still burns bright; he takes the time to heap praise on local support bands Tropics and Blasted before enthusiastically thanking everyone for turning out, adding that they were genuinely unaware whether they would be playing to the twelve people they arrived to at 8 o’clock or the full-house that has since materialised. Indeed, by the end of this muggy evening, the Garage is sweatbox of smiles and beer-hair, beaming endlessly as Off! tear them to pieces.
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Words: Jack Bolter