Negative Approach, Bad Antics and Guantanamo Dogpile
February 9, 2013
Great American Music Hall
San Francisco, CA

Tickets. We had them. Two of them. Yes. Yet (sadly) our jitters of excitement turned to puh-shaws of despair: Candice and I had tickets to see Off!, the amazing manifestation of Keith Morris (of Circle Jerks, etc.), Demitri Coats (of Burning Brides), Steven Shane McDonald (of Red Kross), and Mario Rubalcaba (of Rocket From the Crypt and Hot Snakes). Indeed, a perfect storm of some of Punk Rock’s musical masterminds. However, Mr. Morris had buckled under the unfortunate weight of his Diabetes two shakes before of the beginning of their tour and Off! was quickly unavailable for such a thing. Their tour cohorts, Bad Antics from Orange County and Negative Approach from Detroit,  must have decided to say, “Fuck It The Tour Shall Commence”, and reached their hands out to the towns which dotted their next couple weeks of debauchery, and the bands therein who may be interested in helping them fill Off!’s rather sizable shoes…

So there we were, my love and I, two ships anchored and floating in the night. Each of us were running on fumes. Our previous evening had taken a considerable toll on our wherewithal and, with our excitement at seeing Off! having been dampened by their withdrawal, it soon became a question of whether we had the stamina to go to the show at all.  Guantanamo Dogpile had stepped up to open for the show here in San Francisco. Plus, The Great American Music Hall had refunded our money and said that anyone who still wanted to go would be charged a paltry $5 at the door. So there was that. But as night descended, we felt the waves of last night’s succumbings, and well, as rad as that show promised to be, it also sounded punk as fuck to order Chinese delivery and watch Runway Moms at home. Finally, with only an hour until doors opened, I pictured us getting up the next day and seeing photos from the show on any number of today’s time-rape contraptions and knocking our heads together for not going.

“Fuck it,” I said. “Let’s just go. It’s gonna rule.”

Candice, bless her heart, simply replied, “Alright. I’ll call a cab.”

And so we went.

We met up with our friend Kandle and the three of us jaunted our silly asses to The Great American Music Hall, quite pleased with our decision to motivate. There were all kinds of broke-ass dirtbags who had flocked to the $5 cover charge, so I felt right at home. We found a spot up top to do our obligatory pre-show people-watching. There were all kinds of characters in there. We saw a 15 year old version of Sid and Nancy sucking face like it was going out of style, a whole slew of punk rockers that reminded me of my older sister Rachel’s East Bay crew in days of yore; and these two little dudes who were already jumping around out of sheer anticipation. I went down to check out the caution-tape-strewn stage and these two little guys immediately started talking to me about how excited they were about tonight’s show. They couldn’t have been much older than 14 and possessed a fire that I can vaguely remember having before it was snuffed when I came down with a case of adulthood.

“We saw Guantanamo Death Party at The Gilman. They’re so good!” They both chimed. “Have you ever been to The Gilman?”

“I went a few times many moons ago but by then it was already kinda wack,” I responded.

“Yeah,” they agreed, like seasoned veterans. “It went through kind of a lame time. But it’s getting good again! We live pretty close and just about every weekend we’ll be like: ‘Wanna go down to The Gilman?’ ‘Sure!’ And we’ll go and there’s almost always some good bands playing. Punk and stuff.”

Those guys made me feel that future generations won’t at least be a total wash. I went back upstairs just before the lights lowered and the mind-boggling insanity of Guantanamo Dogpile ensued. All off a sudden, six dudes and three Islamic ladies tornadoed onto the stage wearing army fatigues and hockey masks started kicking two shirtless and handcuffed prisoners. There were flashlights, guns, guitars, all kinds of shit. There was even a machine-gun-shaped guitar. It was awesome from the word “Kill”. They were all yelling at us stupid pussies and informing us all that a kick in the teeth would do us just fine.

Guantanamo Dogpile

Guantanamo Dogpile

“This is bad to the ass!” I said before bounding off downstairs to where the action was. And action? I don’t know who invited Jean-Claude Van Damm’s aura, but action was suddenly aplenty. The floor got pretty wily once the music started. My new little Gilman buddies were circling around in the mosh pit. Guantanamo Dogpile screamed their political banter at us, strewn with an abundance of swear words, all at a heart-gyrating beat. The whole stage was just this big pile of choreographed mayhem. These guys didn’t even know they were gonna play until two days before, but that would never be evident in their performance. It was a well-oiled machine of chaos and destruction. I can’t recommend enough seeing them if they’re ever fuckin’ shit up in your town. Cripes almighty.

After they were done I went back upstairs and Candice and Kandle were both voicing the opinion that tonight was going to be one for the books. I kept flashing back to this tiny venue in my hometown Nevada City where I saw so many great bands in the early and mid-90’s like Swingin Utters, A.F.I. (pre-popularity), No Empathy, C-Monsters (which was one of Hunter Burgen’s bands before he joined A.F.I.), Screw 32 –the list goes on and on. Not to mention a whole shitload of bands that I never heard anything of again but still ruled the school. My eye shed a single spiked tear of gratitude for those youthful shows of yesteryear. Tonight reminded me of that though, just a bunch of us dirty idiots getting together and beating the tar out of one another with big goofy smiles on our faces and good music on the stage. I love it.

Bad Antics took the stage as the place was starting to fill up a little bit. These guys immediately got shit moving on the floor. They definitely inspired dancing of the slam variety. Bad Antics have such a raw power it was impossible not to feel it and want to bounce off of somebody. Plus, they all have long-ass hair, so that helps. Four of them altogether and boy, do they bring it. The guitarist was picking off leads like they were on sale two-for-one. The dude’s a master too, clean shredding and a speed that’ll hike up your eyebrows. The lead singer won the hair-jousting award and was a big factor in the pumped-upedness of all us heathens. He’s got one of those voices that can carry a tune like he’s holding them in a basket made of wicker-screams.

Bad Antics

Bad Antics

Candice pointed out this guy in the mosh pit who was sort of like the fallen guardian angel of everybody. He had a sweet liberty-spike Mohawk and would closely watch his fellow moshers to scoop one up if they were to fall. I saw him circle around to retrieve a fallen hat, and then barged around carefully until he was able to slam it down on its owner’s head. The best though was when, between songs, he motioned for the singer to step forward because his shoe was untied. Punk Guardian leaned up and tied it for him, thus deeming said punk officially radical.

After Bad Antics was done, I ran down to buy a CD and found (to my delight) that they only had cassettes and records. I joyously bought a record from their bass player and it rules. There are all of these great pictures of them inside holding sacks of weed and playing video games and shit.

I headed back upstairs and could already tell from the influx of heads on the floor that things were about to turbo the gnar. Negative Approach stepped up and people were already stage diving to the “music” of them tuning their fucking instruments. The over-crowded floor ripped at the seams, pushing to the feet of the band like worshippers after their messiah. Then the singer took the stage and they started to play. I’ve been to many rock shows in my life, my friends, and I can safely say I have never seen such a cluster-fuck of belligerent enthusiasm. From up above, the entire floor looked like the writhing entrails of a living thing. It was all one big merciless mosh-pit from which there was no escape. It was clear that even if The Great American Music Hall had tried to contain it (which I didn’t see evidence of) it would have been a laughable attempt. At any given moment there were about three people on stage awaiting the perfect moment to dive off into the fleshy oblivion. There were crowd surfers atop other crowd surfers. No joke. A couple people even jumped off the balcony. It was like a pack of hyenas going after the slaughter.  Negative Approach plays the kind of music that takes you by the throat and forces you to listen, then it makes you enjoy yourself cause their music is so tits.

Negative Approach

Negative Approach

Although despite all the ruckus, I didn’t hear of any serious injuries. Everyone was just enjoying a kick ass band within a happy riot. Among all the slamming pushing jumping I saw more smiles than anything (though a few may have been grimaces) and there were countless times where I’d see a huge dude smash into someone smaller than them and immediately, without breaking stride, give him or her a buddy-hug to make amends. The moment anyone would fall to the floor, the nearest person would swoop down and pick them up.

We were talking to the bartender after the smoke had cleared and she said that she’d been working at The Great American Music Hall for six years and had seen a whole lot of crazy shows, but had never seen anything quite like that one. It boggled the mind. If you ever get the chance to see these guys, get down on it. They’re from Detroit Rock City so keep an eye out for them if you’re out there. Chances are if they’re playing anywhere within three miles you’ll be able to hear the carnage. I just hope for your sake you’ll have a spikey-haired guardian to watch after you.

pit guardian

Spikey-haired Guardian

2 Responses to Off! Was Off. Everyone Else Was On! Fire

  1. chris garcia says:

    hey in
    m the orange gretsch guitar player from guantanamo thanks for the kool words was a sick show

  2. chris garcia says:

    hey im the orange gretsch guitar guy from guantanamo thanks for the words that was a sick show