There’s been some slight delay in getting this post out in the open because of the unfortunate burden of having a day job (that pays the bills and is also how I’m very much able to go to shows) to report to and rendering overtime work of 3 hours for a rush project involving some bank application that our current team is assigned to test, not to mention still catching up on some z’s in order to pull this off at the top of my blogging game. But enough about my reasons for the late post and on to this review of French screamo/hardcore punk band Birds in Row’s show over at Mow’s in Quezon City last Thursday night brought to us by the fine folks of Sleeping Boy Collective.
The first two acts who opened the show proper were Red John and Brickcity. Barring the fact that Red John are from my hometown (Bulacan represent!), I’d be more partial to Brickcity here since I’ve seen them a few times before and vocalist Jacques’ mic-less spoken word skit always seals the deal for me (not to mention that he looks a lot like Daryl Palumbo with wild hair and Brickcity’s sound reminds me of Glassjaw for some reason) though I also dug Red John’s brand of post-hardcore that’s a bit abrasive yet approachable at the same time without falling into either trap. Both bands automatically served as a glaring preview of what was to come later during the show.
The third band who performed was Cadenzabler, a name that definitely has a lot of recall for me since I’m hard-pressed to know what a “cadenzabler” is and yet it rolls off the tongue rather nicely (James Joyce would surely be proud of these guys to the point of thinking “Why didn’t I think of that word when I was doing ‘Finnegans Wake’?” if he were still around). Catchy band name aside, Cadenzabler’s aggressive, in-your-face metalcore with melodic and sometimes experimental tendencies is to the local music scene as Poison the Well, From Autumn to Ashes and Unearth are Stateside. My favorite parts of Cadenzabler’s entire set were when their vocalist was doing his Francis Mark-style cleans and when guitarist Brucher surprisingly pulled a bit of 80’s post-punk-sounding tone out of nowhere (at least to my ears) in one of their songs. If ever Unearth decides to return to Manila anytime soon after their relatively successful show back in October 2012, I am totally pining for Cadenzabler to become part of the opening lineup for it.
Serving as a bit of a break from all the aggression was the fourth band who performed, Small Hands. A supergroup of sorts as it has members of Game Theory, Neverdie and Typecast, Small Hands has fun written all over them from their melodic punk sound to songs about dogs (which I admit to being a bit biased to since dogs are preferred pets in our household) to our favorite Tito Tani’s often hilarious stage banter (glad to hear those song dedications to Tim of SBC once again, lol) as well as his attempt at doing blastbeats since their drummer Sep wasn’t around that night most probably due to EDSA traffic being at a standstill due to heavy rainfall which is how completely fucked up that major thoroughfare in the Metro can get; good thing Josh from the next band who performed – more on that below – was game enough to pound the skins for Small Hands. Small Hands does not forget to keep their feet to the underground that birthed the band while achieving modest success at the same time, a remarkable feat in itself.
Last Thursday night also marked the live debut of Beast Jesus, a noise-rock band formed from the ashes of the now-defunct Caitlyn Bailey. Whereas the latter concentrated more on the chaotic hardcore side of things back when they were still around, Beast Jesus is more of an entity that throws all its members’ various musical influences together inside some huge proverbial blender and comes out with a sound that they can truly call their own. Rarely does one ever get to hear a band in the local music scene that mashes chaotic hardcore, Godspeed You! Black Emperor-style aggro post-rock, shoegaze, and even surf music and gets away with it rather successfully. Beast Jesus is what you would get if METZ, KEN Mode, Converge, GY!BE, My Bloody Valentine, Nothing, and Dick Dale were all playing in your indoor home stereo all at the same time. Hoping that Beast Jesus would also sound as good on record once they get to put out one anytime soon.
Finally, Birds in Row who travelled all the way from Laval, a small town in France not just to perform but also to serve as an embodiment of the DIY spirit by selling some merch all by themselves in a pay-what-you-want system starting at 400 pesos and refusing to sign any of it (I know this because I actually asked their drummer T. if he could sign their “Collected” LP that I brought along with me but he politely declined to do so since he felt like it was a rockstar thing to do and all three of them in Birds in Row aren’t even in that level; no worries for me at all though since I instantly understood that night their stance on such things, so still ok).
The band unleashed their furious screamo/post-hardcore that’s almost surprisingly apt for Throwback Thursday since it brought back a lot of memories from the year 2005 by performing some songs from both “Collected” and “You, Me and the Violence” as well a few new ones.
For a three-piece band, Birds in Row’s sound is big enough for the audience to shout along and mosh to – so big in fact that a few unexpected things happened at the same time that night which was beyond anyone’s control. B., Birds in Row’s vocalist/guitarist, had to remind the crowd to not step on the band equipment after they stopped a minute into their last song ”You, Me and the Violence” which they then had to do a second take of.
There were also some post-show reports that a few crowd members – some of them women – got injured during the show after some dreadlocked fella bumped into them from the sides and while I admit to initially getting rather upset that a guy would just slam his way in to the area where those who prefer to absorb the music without moshing were staying (though all I saw that night from my bokeh POV (because lol, 600+ prescription eyeglasses) was this dread-haired person that I then overheard a few folks were referring to as “Mario”; it was only much later when I found out that this same Mario fella is also a member of hardcore punk band Killratio), I had to do a double take of my previous gut reaction after Francis of Beast Jesus/Sleeping Boy Collective talked to Keith Dador of Legarda who was with Mario that night and relayed back to us who attended the show that Mario absolutely didn’t mean to cause any intentional harm to anyone. Here’s to hoping that Mario (possibly with Keith’s help or something) would reach out and offer his sincerest apologies to those reportedly injured so that all is well that ends well. Francis and Tim of SBC have also ensured us all that any future shows hosted by the collective would be a safe place for everyone – moshers and non-moshers alike – to be in. I was suddenly reminded of this recent flyer I found from indie rock band Speedy Ortiz:
And for those who are still having that post-show hangover, here are some Birds in Row-related projects to check out:
First up is their upcoming split 10″ with fellow Laval, France hardcore punk band WAITC (formerly known as We Are in the Country), one song from each band already up and running below. Can’t wait to get my filthy paws on that split to be released late October of this year on Throatruiner Records.
Next are Sling 69 and Hourvari, both featuring BIR vocalist/guitarist B. and the latter even includes BIR bassist/vocalist Q. as well. Both bands’ only releases are provided below for our listening pleasure.
As We Draw
“Background/Frontside” (2009, self-released)
Available for free download via http://www.amaurysauve.com/aswedraw/aswedraw%20-%20background%20frontside%20ep.zip
“Lines Breaking Circles” (2010, Throatruiner Records/Skulltrophy Records)
“Mirages” (2014, Throatruiner Records)
“Rigorisme” (2012, Throatruiner Records)
“Forceps” (2013, Throatruiner Records)
Q. also has a solo folk outing under the moniker Throw Me Off the Bridge. Here are the two full-lengths he had recorded with some guest musicians in tow:
“Everlasting Folks” (2012, self-released)
“Blindfolded Traveler” (2014, self-released)
Oh boy, all three members of Birds in Row sure love keeping themselves busy which is more than welcome enough as we get to hear a lot more potential favorites at that.
Throw Me Off the Bridge has to be my most favorite Birds in Row-related project thus far as in an ideal alternate universe, all them hipster chicks one would frequently see in that large-scale music and arts festival would have been citing TMOTB as something that they listen to on an almost regular basis, not to mention that they’d be fangirling all over Q. because white dude and French. The stuff TMOTB puts out is sure to throw your flower crown-wearing “indie folk” crap out of the window and it also shows a more sensitive side to the whole Laval hardcore punk scene which is why it is a personal instant favorite.
So that’s two out of four shows this September… As much as I badly wanted to go out this weekend, aside from having to finish this already delayed blog post, I decided to reserve whatever energies I still have left to make it out all in one piece come Monday when Xibalba (the Southern Lord Records hardcore band, not the Mexican black metal one) would visit the country and perform over at Selda-Dos also in Quezon City (the second time for this month alone that said place has been used as a venue for hosting shows featuring bands from abroad).
UPDATE (September 13, 2015):
The previous published version of this post had the full first names of all three Birds in Row members but B. himself(!!!) messaged me earlier today via Facebook asking if I would be so kind as to crop them out. This post has been updated with the first names of all three members of Birds in Row shortened to just their respective first letters out of respect for B.’s personal wishes and what I found really good (inspiring even) about it was that his tone of pointing out that lapse on my end was nice enough instead of going beastmode all over my virtual persona. Also cropped B.’s name in this screencap of his message to yours truly to err on the side of caution:
So yeah, my FB message box is always open aside from the comments section of this blog if anyone would like to point out any factual errors on my end that absolutely need some revising as well as suggestions on how to improve this blog and/or my writing style even further and other reactions. Even dissenting opinions regarding some things I have written are more than welcome as I tend to treat them as more of a challenge on how to best either defend my own opinions/statements or get educated about something that I recognize as having absolutely little to almost no knowledge of. Learning is a continuous process indeed.