Saturday, November 20, 2010

Show Review: Chronic Submisison reunion show

The Chronic Submission reunion show was on Friday November 19th and I was at the show thinking it seems like a year ago we were all seeing each other for the first time in a decade to check out Youth Youth Youth reunion. Tonight was YYY's younger counterparts. I was reading a review of Chronic Submission in an old Ottawa zine called No Cause for Concern. They wrote the most accurate description of CS which likened Ripley’s vocals to Brain Taylor’s. I have to agree. I have always thought that Tyler sounded like a younger Brain Taylor. Well aside from taking cues in vocal delivery, CS and Brain Taylor have had a long standing partnership. Brain recorded both tape release by the band. Brian released both cassettes on his label NRK. And now Brian is getting set to release vinyl collecting both tapes. Given how well the “T.O. Hardcore” comp came out I am excited by this release to come. But I digress. When I first got into the scene I never had the chance to see Chronic Submission. I was at shows that they played but I always seemed to miss them. So it was with much anticipation that I waited to catch this band. I would say I have been waiting 25 years to see Chronic Submission. I did get a bit of a preview through the radio show, but it was months ago and they were still re-learning their material. Seeing a band in a studio is not the same as seeing a band play live at a show. And in the time I have gotten to meet them I have realized that the Chronics are possibly one of the most important hardcore bands in the Toronto scene. The Chronics can be credited for ushering in a North American sound to hardcore in this city. They were the first band that I know that played a stop and start style of thrash that bands like MDC and DRI would become known for. Chronic Submission were playing it at the exact moment as these hardcore giants. Once Chronic Submission started playing this sound all sorts of local bands followed suit. Bands like BFG, Micro Edge, Wrath, Negative Gain all owe some thanks to CS for the influence. Now I think it is pretty impressive for a band to have one major impact on a scene but that’s where Chronic Submission are different. The band has often been described as having a metal influence. This came later and in some ways I believe that Chronic Submission were the precursor to the crossover scene. I was listening to “Empty Heads, Poison Darts” you can start to hear metal creeping in. There are points of reference that Sudden Impact picked up on. Chronic Submission paved the way for bands like Sudden Impact to come about. But enough analysis.

The show took place in the basement of a new Parkdale dive called Parts and Labour. Actually upstairs is a pretty swank restaurant. Downstairs is a punk club with a low ceiling that would give Larry’s a run for their money. But how perfect is it that we are watching Chronic Submission play live in a basement club in Parkdale? Chronic Submission played with the same kind of intensity that the neighbourhood demands. They channeled the energy from the “Sick of Reality” tape meanwhile playing with the proficiency of guys who knew better than “Empty Heads, Poison Darts”. As Tyler got into it he sported the crazy psycho path stares that he sings about. Christian planted his feet transfixed on his amp and could not be distracted no matter how hard the crowd tried. Johnny McNabb filled out the guitar punishment. And Hamish rode the bottom end like he was taming a rodeo bull. Ruston called the shots from behind his kit making everyone take the leap at the same time.

Launching in song after song like it was a Guinness competition to fit as many songs in as short a period as possible. Look it up and see if 22 songs in what felt like ten minutes is a record. The band started off with “Urban Violence” and went right into “Four Points”. By the end of their set it felt like they were just getting started. And most of us could have heard the set two or three more times.

They covered all the favourites like “Go 4 It” which saw Dave Buchannan from Micro Edge engaging in a little Huntington Skank for that particular part of the set. And how fitting was it that Ken Huff and Anthony lead the charge to get the pit going. John Hale and Steve Milo bounced all over the place like the deft skaters that they are. Jill Heath watched from the stands. Everywhere you looked it was 1984. I was glad to see Chronic Submission get this kind of support. Ruston closed out the show by letting us know that a Chronic Submission LP was going to be released in December and that they would be playing again in a few months time. The rumour is that it will be with a reunited Terminal Rage. It’s like the class of ’81 has taken over the latest round of reunions.

Gunnar Hansen also came out of retirement for this show. They opened things up and their brand of 9 Shocks Terror sound which was not lost on me. They have reunited to do a record release show with Urinary Tract Infection sometime when they split LP comes out. This was a trial run. But the singer also told me that they might be playing with Haymaker at a reunion show in the Hammer. Haymaker have just had some stuff released on Regurgitated Semen Records in Germany so I think that is what the Haymaker reunion is about.
And Al Nolan’s new band, Iron League played after. Al used to play with Ruston and Johnny Mcnabb in Triggerhappy so it was a reunion for these guys. Al hyped everyone up with special messages for different scenesters. Then he made fun of himself saying I guess this area rock hype doesn’t work in a basement club. Iron League belted their way through a set of blown out garage inspired hardcore. The songs were super good and melodic and the speakers were so loud it was a fuckin’ mess. But you could tell that they could rock in a bulldozer kind of way.

Adam Sewell’s new band, Bastard Child Death Cult finished off the night. A bit more Motorhead inspired. They are tight as fuck too. I had to split after the first song. It was way past my bed time. All I can say is these hardcore kids have not forgotten how to blow it all away. It was a great night all the way around.

Photos by Rob Ferraz

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