Kidcrash – Jokes
It was the middle of the summer of 2007, I was only 16 years old and going to drive to the city with a group of young punks to see our friends’ band Cougar Den play a show with Kidcrash and a solo musician by the name Keyboard.
My Dad had grown up in the city, and when he heard where the show was, he forbid me from going. He thought it was too dangerous or something. Clearly that made no difference to me and I snuck over to my friend’s house who was driving to the show. I was late and there wasn’t any room for me in the car, but I was determined to go to the show. So they stored me in the trunk of their car. My pockets were filled with just enough money for the show, a bag of weed, and a pack of melted gum.
The show was above a dive bar, in a room behind a huge wooden dungeon door that weighed 60 pounds. The dungeon door did a great job in keeping in the thick, uncomfortably hot air in the room. Cougar Den was first, and they killed it per usual. Keyboard was second and was a just a dude with a kids-style keyboard, dancing around singing songs with lyrics like “I’m dumb when I’m high, and I’m high all of the time.” It was silly and entertaining.
Kidcrash set up their gear, and I kid you not, their soundcheck was the heaviest thing I had ever heard in my entire life. I liked screamo and hardcore music, CTTS and Pg99 and everything, but Kidcrash had just put out their album Jokes and good god, I was blown away. I had never seen anything so dynamic and heavy, yet melodic and beautiful all within the same 20 minute set. Their musicianship, too, was just incredible. I was just a stoned little teenager, naive and disobedient and I knew even then, as I was watching them perform that this was something to remember, something different and special. I was inspired and felt creative and excited.
After their show, I bought their CD Jokes and it remained in my car’s CD player, my headphones, and my bedroom boombox for a good portion of the year after. I loved it and felt that I struck gold. The song “Ron Ghousley’s Fucked Up Dream (Ron to the Hills, Ron for your life)” 12 years later is something I still listen to on the regular.
Seeing Kidcrash perform the album Jokes live was life changing and that album played a significant role in my own musicianship and my drive to become a better guitar player. Hail yeah. I’m sticking to it. kcsw.
Against Me! – Reinventing Axl Rose
The first time I heard Against Me’s “Reinventing Axl Rose”, I was in high school, drinking beers with my good friends in a garage in Suburbia Nothingness, Illinois. At this point we were all trying to jump the line of conformity and started discovering the empowering yet mentally exhausting treasure chest of political activism at the peak of our teenage rebellion. When each song came on, a surge of energy pumped through me while a tear welled up in my eye thinking of the lyrics on this album. So empowering and riot inducing, with twinkles of sadness sprinkled in. The raw energy in the vocals along with the pummeling drums and guitar immediately made me rock out. This album inspired my friends and I to go to the nearest grocery store with acoustic guitars and a snare drum strapped around my chest, belting out the lyrics to the first few songs on the album. It was an experiment in breaking the norm, and we were able to get a few people from the store to join in, making my body tingle with excitement. Whenever I feel sad or worn out from all the shit going on in this world, I’ll put on this album, immediately lifting my mood making me dance uncontrollably.
Godspeed You! Black Emperor – Lift Your Skinny Fists Like Antennas to Heaven
My friend’s mom died in an accident when we were teenagers and he came to live with me and my dad as members of his family each suffered through that trauma in their own way. To cope, he smoked a whole lot of weed and sought variations of numbness and euphoria. One time he came home with a record and he basically told me stop doing homework and listen to this. So we got high and sat in the living room where my dad had a couple of Klipsch Heresy speakers and he put on lift your skinny fists like antennas to heaven at high volume. I fell in love right away. There’s so much going on and so much to parse; I don’t even know where to begin to describe it. I’ve heard others compare it to a religious experience. From the first few minutes of the build on Storm through the field recordings that evoke so much tension and unease, through every crescendo, through the quiet moments of respite, it’s engaging in an emotional way but also in a deeply political way that few other records (if any?) have ever been for me. It’s such a cliché to call a record transcendent, but it truly has been a standout since it was released like 20 years ago and it hasn’t lost any luster. The thing is so moving and engrossing and beautiful and emotionally tumultuous, and we were so taken with it that upon hearing it for the first time sitting there in the living room with my best friend, his life in crisis, all we could do was laugh.
Snag’s self-titled full length record is being released on November 9.