Your Gateway to Music and More from a Christian Perspective
Slow down as you approach the gate, and have your change ready....
State Showcase West Coast
Bands: ZAO, Stretch Arm Strong, Third Root, Born Blind, Society's Finest
Where: The Chain Reaction, Anaheim CA.
When: June 3, 2000
by Justin W. Jones
Take 500 people, put them in a room meant to hold 180, turn off the air conditioner, throw in some dancers, start some circle pits, add a touch brutal hardcore, and let it simmer for around 5 hours. The outcome is the world's hottest Solid State Showcase.
It was blazing hot outside, and people were getting antsy from the heat. By the attitude of the people waiting in line (the door opened one hour late) I could tell this would be an intense show. People were yelling, running around, mingling, and trying to be more "in" than the person behind them. I could tell that there were a lot of non-Christians due to the swearing, attitudes, and smell of alcohol evident but that's all right. It makes for a much better show when there is a variety of fans. Besides, a couple of the bands on the roster don't consider themselves Christian bands. Looking around the crowd I saw lots of Christian music celebrities. Members of .rod laver, Sick of Change, Project 86, and Training for Utopia were hanging out in the crowd. Punk rockers, hardcore kids, indie rockers, goths, and your average Joe were there too.
The first thing I noticed when I entered the venue was the space, or lack of. The place was about the size of half a basketball court. And after the show I heard the maximum occupancy was for 180 people, but the people running the place weren't denying anyone entrance. By the end of the night there were 500 people there. The more the merrier.
Bill Powers made an opening remark, welcomed everyone to the show and wished them well. The first band was Society's Finest. They were unfamiliar to the crowd, but as soon as they started playing their first song, the place erupted. Circles formed and the hardcore fist swinging, leg lunging, sky punching ensued. Angry smiles were everywhere as the kids rocked out to this Texas-based band. Since the split album that they did with My Spacecoaster, they have improved so much. They were amazing and deserve a higher billing. Their stage performance is not one to miss, and I eagerly look forward to their new album.
About the time the first set was over, the heat began. It didn't get a little warm, this heat was intense. The air conditioners weren't working and body heat sent the temperature sky high. We went out to catch some air for a little while and cool off. I would have to come out to this spot many more times throughout the night to cool off. While outside I heard of people that drove there from Las Vegas (6 hours), and others that were there hours before it started to ensure that they would get in.
The next band up was the San Diego-based Born Blind. The lead singer took off running across the stage, the bald, tall, tattooed, middle aged drummer started the old school hardcore beats and once again the fans began the dancing. More people were familiar with their material and the occasional group chorus broke out. In between songs the lead singer told of his love for the LORD. I heard people around me mocking him for doing so but for the most part everyone was cool with it. It seemed that people were there that had nothing to do with Christ, but at the same time respected the bands on the level of performance and musicianship. As they ended their set, a good vibe was in the air, a vibe somewhat reminiscent of a good rave vibe. There was unity. Everyone was moving, whether by choice or force. It was as though the crowd was one huge body swaying from side to side. Born Blind left the stage having represented San Diego to the fullest.
Root was the next band up. They are also from San Diego but their style
of music didn't really mesh well with the rest of the show. The short,
dread locked, lead singer sang his lines too much and occasionally he would
emit an annoying shrill scream about one key flat. By the time they were
Stretch Arm Strong was up next. They sound a lot like the classic hardcore of Good Clean Fun and they send out the same positive vibe. The lead singer has a high pitched but very clear yell. Stretch Arm Strong describes themselves as "putting the nice guy back in hardcore" and they promote those ideals at their shows.
During their set something changed. The place went nuts as a 400 person pit broke out. Usually there are a few people that are "too cool" to move around, but not this night. It was all for one, and one for all even though by this time the floor was slick with sweat and people had to be more cautious with their dancing. I had heard about Stretch's energy on stage, but never imagined that they could get the results they did from the crowd.
next was the moment everyone had been waiting for. Zao was going to take
the stage. Even watching them set up had emotional lows and highs. Dan
Weyandt (lead singer) set up to play bass, a huge disappointment
because Dan wouldn't be free to be the madman that he's known for. The
The first song, "Lies of Serpents, a River of Tears," set off a chain reaction. I was pummeled from all directions. It was nuts. I noticed that Dan took his vocals down an octave and sang more like a death metal vocalist which wasn't enjoyable to hear, but as he sang, spit was pouring out of his pierced lip, dripping all over the stage, which was great. Zao captured what most hardcore fans were looking for, a brutal performance.
put on a great show playing favorites like "Savannah," "Autopsy," "A Fall
Farewell" and trying out some new songs that will be out on the new album
that went over well. One song was minimalistic; mainly drums and bass,
but it still portrayed a bleak sound, the dire style that they are known
As they were winding down Dan announced that they wanted to let their friends' band play. They said they were called Simian Circle, and they were in town from Iceland for a photo shoot. The crowd booed. Nobody wanted to hear these guys, but as Zao stayed on stage and switched positions it was clear that Simian Circle is just a Zao side project. Russ was the drummer, and Jesse sang vocals. This wasn't anything like his other side project, Through the Eyes of Katelyn. This was chaos, something similar to the psycho hardcore of The Locust. Russ' drumming skills also amazed us. As the song ended and the concert came to a close, Dan bashed his bass to shreds and walked off like a true rock star.
that, the concert was over. I rate it as one of the best shows I've seen.
Walking outside was also great. I could finally stop sweating. I got some
great souvenirs, T-shirts, CD's, stickers, many bruises, and one damaged
ear drum. But I'll do it again next year.