Rotture — Portland, OR — 22 May 2012
Photography by Mitchell Wojcik
Enter Retox, the next sonically rebellious outfit of The Locust’s Justin Pearson. Clearly the most overworked co-conspirator of the night, I’m sure you’re just fuming at me for not listing his myriad of other projects. But the truth is that if you enjoy the The Locust, or its next of kin, you will enjoy Retox, and there is no need for the incessant shuffle of name dropping. What you can count on: songs of short duration that feel like being shoved off a cliff onto sharpened glass, only to be saved from your plummet with a the merciful gasp at conclusion. To see a set from Retox is to see Pearson give in to the dirtiest, most vile upheaval he could envision while still reaching cathartic plateaus — or so his limber yoga poses that night suggested. Pearson’s yappy shouts were far more audible then my previous run-ins with band, as in smaller spaces the vocals can easily be swallowed up by the band’s bursting guitar low end. “Retox is a very good name!” one fan offered in between songs, to which Pearson calmly replied, “I don’t think so, but thank you for saying.” Pearson and drummer Gabe Serbian (The Locust) who also performed on Ugly Animals, may seem like targets of constant hero-worship, but that may just be because the pair remain pertinent in the music scene no matter the vessel they choose. It may not be the most popular route, to make an even more raucous advancement of extremity than before, but giving too much of a shit about music’s profitability simply isn’t in the Retox decorum. With or without Serbian behind the kit, Retox establish themselves as disparate yet equally maniacal to The Locust and Some Girls. Well done.
Narrows was formed by Botch vocalist Dave Verellen in 2008 and features These Arms Are Snakes guitarist Ryan Frederikson, and Unbroken/Some Girls bassist Rob Moran. When big mathcore/punk names of this ilk decide to mate, then it is a band like Narrows that is their willing surrogate. And much to my delight, the bands’ favorable genetic traits were all there: the frenetic rhythm of hardcore, the stinging pulls of diminished minor, and of course, Dave Verellen’s searing growl. Narrows have honed their influences of hardcore and punk for a set unlike Retox’s blistering fast tumults, but with more of a display of each member’s unique playing style and sensibility to the genre. The differences in tempo from song to song make evident the band’s ability to play a set of deeply contrasted moods and influences while not forgoing heaviness. “Chambered” is fresh out of the gate guitar dices, while “Newly restored” is a dooming build of choppy breaks, keeping out of the 4/4 timing bands so regularly choose to go with in hardcore. Although veterans of their craft, the band still doesn’t take the stage without their fair amount of irony and humor.
“I was reading the Hardcore Singers’ Handbook today,” jests Verellen. “It said it is okay to thank everyone after a song, but not every song.” He raised a hand and continued, “But I’m going to thank you after ever song. Thank you for coming out! Page 68 of the Hardcore Singers’ Handbook; check it out.”
Narrows were brought together from a team of A-List hardcore talent, and supposing they continue to play shows like this, they will not become grandpas of the art any time soon.