Oh boy, how time flies by so quickly just like that… it’s already been two years since Atlanta grindcore trio Dead in the Dirt visited the country and yet it feels like the band performed just last night. I was still rather new to the local hardcore punk scene at the time and only knew very few people in it but what the heck, right? I went to the show anyway which was held at Black Kings’ Bar in Quezon City (near SM North EDSA) on a Sunday night (November 24 to be exact) – surely not the most convenient day to go to a show for someone whose days off fall under the weekend same as most in the working populace in the Metro but given that DITD was the first ever band from the highly respected (and one of my personal favorite record labels since the late 2000’s) Southern Lord Recordings to hit the shores of Manila, it was too good an opportunity to miss out on.

Unfortunately cannot recall anymore how some of the local bands who opened the show sounded to me at the time with the exception of two who still stand out for me until now: Jahannam and Tinimbang Ka Ngunit Kulang who represent the polar opposites of guitar-based aggressive music, the former with their slow-burning sludge and the latter with their totally frantic powerviolence.

Jahannam are still around and playing the occasional gig here in Bulacan where I’m still residing right now (though there are currently some plans to move to the Metro – which has been way too long overdue already but it was only now that I was able to raise what I deem to be sufficient funds to really start acting on it before next year’s flood season strikes again); their vocalist Raymond is also a good friend of mine who has seen me hang out with the folks from the Malolos punk scene back in my college days so yeah, Bulacan represent, yay! The band has yet to release a proper recording of some sort though so hoping they’d get to it as soon as possible.

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Jahannam

Tinimbang Ka Ngunit Kulang (whose name is taken from a well-loved Lino Brocka joint that has earned recognition and critical acclaim both here and abroad) on the other hand might not be around as of the moment but they have at least a couple of proper releases under their name: a self-released digital demo available as free download and a split tape with Sister Bastard on Nine Iron. TKNK hit it really hard with songs that mostly do not go beyond an average length of 2 minutes, which I think marked the very first time I’ve watched a band whose set lasted for only less than a total of 15 minutes.

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Tinimbang Ka Ngunit Kulang

I believe it was also my very first time seeing a foreign band (and one signed to an acclaimed heavy music label at that) carrying their own equipment and peddling their own merch which was how I became aware of the entire DIY aesthetic in the hardcore punk scene, something that left a lasting impression on me bigtime. Not only that, all three members of Dead in the Dirt were more than nice enough to sign my “The Blind Hole” CD released that same year which I brought along that night and game as well in having a really brief chat with yours truly about being on Southern Lord and other stuff – that despite having a beer bottle in tow which is markedly in contrast to the band’s vegan straightedge philosophy they’re espousing through both their music and lifestyle, though I’d like to believe Blake Connally, Hank Pratt and Bo Orr surely didn’t mind my drink of choice that night at all.

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“The Blind Hole” CD as signed by all three members of Dead in the Dirt
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Dead in the Dirt setting their gear up on stage

I also got to mosh right in front of the low-floored stage of BKB and shout along to “No Chain”, a personal favorite from “The Blind Hole” most especially after finding out that the spoken word intro of that song is actually a poem called “Barking” penned by Jim Harrison. The full text of “Barking” can be read below:

The moon comes up.

The moon goes down.

This is to inform you

that I didn’t die young.

Age swept past me

but I caught up.

Spring has begun here and each day

brings new birds up from Mexico.

Yesterday I got a call from the outside

world but I said no in thunder.

I was a dog on a short chain

and now there’s no chain.

That poem right there is probably one of the most liberating pieces of literature I’ve ever read in my entire life as it finds the author celebrating his having weathered a very rough life rather successfully as he spends his old age living the simple life in the plain countryside and being very much free from the shackles of the chaos of the city (or at least that’s my own interpretation of it). If that’s not the most uplifting poem anyone has ever published thus far, then I honestly don’t know what is.

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American poet Jim Harrison and dog with no chain

For those who would like to relive the experience on video, here’s local punk archivist Crapsalad’s entire show clip for everyone’s viewing pleasure:

Too bad though that no follow-up to “The Blind Hole” has been released yet so just in case anyone’s wondering, Bo Orr has since fronted a band called Arbor Labor Union (formerly known as Pinecones) who had already released two tapes and was very recently signed to Sub Pop. ALU’s sound is closer to The Murder City Devils than DITD but interesting listen just the same. While ALU has yet to put out a record under their new name, their stuff as Pinecones can be checked out below:

No word yet though on what Blake and Hank are up to these days other than the former liked my “The Blind Hole” CD photo right there when I posted it on my Instagram account a few days prior to this post.

So there you have it, my first ever “Blast from the Past” show review in which I recall to the best of my current memory some unforgettable shows I’ve been to when I was still lazily typing post-show accounts on my Facebook timeline and before this entire WordPress blog came into existence. While publishing posts of this ilk would only be rather sporadic at best, it sure feels good reliving those moments that were very memorable for me as someone who goes to shows both big and small whenever possible.

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