Ann Beretta, New Mexican Disaster Squad, Cruiser Weight: Tremont Music Hall in Charlotte, NC, 10/04/03 By Chris

Oct 24, 2003

I had been eagerly awaiting NMDS's return to my area ever since I first saw the Orlando band open for Strike Anywhere in March at this same club. I liked their live set just fine at the time, but it was only after repeated listening to their first CD, Abrasive Repulsive Disorder, that I became converted. Their follow-up, which is self-titled, appeared on A-F Records in August and is even better with an attention to recorded sound that does them justice without making them sound slick. The album it most reminds me of is Minor Threat's Out of Step. Few punk bands ever progress to that level of higher musical complexity without losing their aggression and energy. If these guys had been born twenty years sooner they would most likely be as well-known as Minor Threat is today, but times have changed for roots punk bands.

I mentioned NMDS at length in an earlier review I did of Henry Rollins/Keith Morris doing their Black Flag song tour. No, NMDS didn't play on that tour. I just thought that some of the older punks out there should give newer bands like these guys a listen. The younger, emo kids probably aren't going to get this band, which is a shame.

The first group on this show, Cruiser Weight, is from Austin and made me think of a slower Tsunami Bomb. Their singer has a high voice that recalls some of those K Records female-fronted bands. Their songs didn't consistently carry the energy that I look for in a punk band. Maybe if I listened to their recordings I'd hear a decent K Records-style indie pop band.

NMDS was next and I felt bad for them as the "crowd" had now reached its total for the night. There were about twenty people there. Nonetheless, the guys delivered as if the room were packed. From their first album they played only the incredible "Born Razed" and mostly concentrated on their newer songs. "Tax Return" and "Ride the Crest" are probably my favorites from their new one, but I can't find any song on it I dislike. I certainly felt that I was watching a great band in their prime. They got a good response from the crowd, but I wish more people had been there.

Ann Beretta is a long-running Richmond band that I first saw live in Jan. 1998 on my birthday. I don't know how many original members are left in the band as I haven't exactly followed them, but I've always admired them. They work hard, seem sincere, and don't seem to get a lot of breaks. They have a new CD out that I haven't heard so I can't really judge the depth of their current songwriting. They played a solid, enjoyable show, but my attention to their music was irrevocably distracted about four or five songs in when a couple of guys in the crowd started "dancing." They didn't start a pit or anything predictable like that. They mostly seemed to jump on each other's back and one would ride the other piggy-back around the floor. Richard, NMDS's drummer, got jumped on quite a bit when the Piggyback Locomotive wanted to swap out members. Sometimes the two guys would grab another guy and the three would lock arms around shoulders and spin continuously in circles until their union collapsed and each member spun out of control. They were taking up so much floor space that I had to constantly watch them to make sure I didn't take a hit. I don't know what Ann Beretta thought of them, but, at least, it wasn't a dead crowd.

By the time you read this NMDS should be touring Europe with Strike Anywhere. I eagerly await their next visit to my neck of the woods, as should you.

Chris Peigler