Power Chords and Blast-Beats Pound the Walls of the Union

By the CCNWSS (Jeremie Jordan)

About eight years ago Reversal of Man proclaimed that “internet and indie-rock are killing hard-core.” Certainly Dayton’s own once prolific extreme music scene has since reached a very stark low. With punk rock bars and venues closing their doors, all-ages shows practically ceasing, veteran hipsters moving away or settling down, and the attempt of major labels to cash in on the pseudo-post-heavy watered down trendy music that passes as punk, metal, and hardcore, the younger bands in the local scene that have any ties to, or play any true form of these styles are very far and few between. Once upon a not so distant past, Dayton was synonymous with creative and ground-breaking music. Our city was known for the quantity of quality music that emerged in the nineteen nineties with such gems as Brainiac, The Breeders, Guided By Voices, The Amps, Twenty-third Chapter, and countless others leading the way and bringing much attention to the energetic scene. The past few years, however, have been marred by bad luck, tragedy, and loss of resources.

On Friday, December 8th, Antioch opened up its doors to the small minority of acts left carrying the extreme music torch.

The college’s own three-piece throw back to the old Stapled Shut, Despise You, crusty genre, Drive By Schiavo kicked off the night, unleashing their variety of “ornithohystari- core.” Next to take the stage was the raw buzz-saw guitar and blast beat barrage known as Mugger, followed by the technical prog-metal Harlots, straight off a national tour. The final act of the evening was the instrumental, experimental wall of noise Romance of Young Tigers, who punished the ear-drums of all present with what Caroline Debevec called music for a “punk rock funeral.”

I want to thank Samson for throwing the show, Melody for putting up with the headache, and everyone else who was open minded enough embrace the unusual chaotic soundscape. I am personally grateful for the opportunity to catch up with some old friends who drove into town from Columbus, Dayton, and elsewhere, including one Kevin Gamble, of Twelve Tribes fame, who had just rolled in off a European tour.

It was great to do some catching up and share plans for the future. Over a few beers, Seth, Todd, and Jeremiah, of Romance of Young Tigers, revealed some of their stories about dealing with the changing climate in Dayton’s independent music scene, including their hysterical experience at this summer’s ‘Dayton Music Fest’, at which they played the Tumbleweed with a bunch middle aged cover bands. They were apparently heckled the entire time and encouraged through drunken shouts to “get a singer!” Needless to say, they were quite appreciative of the chance to come and play for crowd with less prejudice toward the bizarre. I purchased a copy of their new CD and cannot say enough about it. Not only does it sound like a beautiful, more brutally ‘romantic’ Godspeed, You Black Emperor comes in a gorgeous hand-crafted, book-like layout with silk-screened animals all over the inside and the image of a prostitute stabbing a police officer on the front. I can’t wait to see where they take their sound in the months to come.

Harlots and Mugger members were also optimistic about the overall outcome of the event. Tipp City kids came out in force, to support their hometown hero’s. Through conversation with Mugger’s drummer, Kenny Jones, I learned he is planning to apply to Antioch next year, inspired by the political conscious of our community. Current students who weren’t at Lauren Hind’s art show in Cincinnati and who could withstand the volume, were surprisingly receptive to the performances, which exemplified an understandably acquired taste. Erin Cisewski said after getting a bump on the chin “I haven’t moshed since ’01!”

The show was something of an experiment. Promoter Sampson said he was “glad to put the rock back in Antioch.” All the bands said they would love to come back and play for the Antioch crowd, which they felt were welcoming. They were also appreciative of the open-mindedness of the community toward their music. I feel a cooperative relationship between Antioch and the Dayton music scene would be a culturally beneficial connection to all involved. Cheers to the future!