Conquest for Death, Criminal Damage, Subhumans (UK): At Slim's, SF, CA, April 6, 2008 By Federico

Jun 22, 2008

First off, I want to let everyone in the Bay area know (in case you don’t already) that it is really handy to be on the Slim’s email list. They often have opportunities to win tickets to shows and the questions are really easy! It’s fantastic. So far, I’ve won tickets to three shows. The most recent one was the Conquest for Death, Criminal Damage and Subhumans (UK) show on April 6th.

I’d seen Subhumans twice before Sunday night’s show and they were really excellent both times. The first time I saw them was in Baltimore on election night in 2000. I remember that on the way to the show I was listening to the news in my car and it didn’t seem like (in terms of Bush winning/stealing the election) there was anything to worry about. I thought it would be fun to see a political band like the Subhumans on that auspicious evening. If I recall correctly, my friends the Goons were playing with them. It was a great show; I’d been totally impressed by how tight they were and how good the songs sounded, even twenty years later! Needless to say, listening to the news on the way home from the show was a totally different story. Talk about a major buzz kill!

The next time I saw them was in San Francisco last year and it was one of my favorite shows all year.

I was concerned that I had thus kind of built them up in my mind and that the show would end up being a little disappointing. Happily, that was not at all the case!

When I arrived, Conquest for Death, who are apparently from San Francisco, Tokyo, Emeryville, Alameda, and Milwaukee, was playing. They sounded pretty good from outside the club and when I got in they were about halfway through what would be their second-to-last song. I was sorry that I didn’t arrive sooner because I would have liked to see their whole set. They were very fast, kinda in between thrash and hardcore. I recognized the guitarist from Say Bok Gwai, who evidently plays in both bands. Before they played their last song, the singer took a moment to say a few words. He talked about the scene and how much it means to him, making the point that it was not so important to him whether you were more into metal or punk. He went on to say that they had recently played some shows in Africa, and that if we think our music scene is only prevalent in places like the U.S., Europe, and Australia, we should go check out a bunch of metal heads getting into it in Botswana. I thought that was totally excellent! There is a cool picture of that show here: I was happy that he shared that with us and wish their last song would have been a bit longer.

Afterwards, I went and checked out the merch table and bought a poster for what I think might have been the first time ever in my life. Seriously! Mike Sutfin did the artwork for it and I was just into it, I thought it was beautiful. It lists all three bands, and is in glorious red with black, white, and grey.

I love the trombone and the bass! They also had another poster that said, “Many Nations, One Underground” that I really liked, despite all the flag action. The Conquest for Death full length had a scary shrunken head monster-looking thing on the cover, and I was told that it was a model that was actually made for the record. Frightening but cool! One of their songs on the record is called, “Circle Pit, Not Prayer Circle.” I thought that was pretty stellar. I didn’t get the full length then but I picked up a 7” and I may have to get the LP later.

Meanwhile, Criminal Damage (check was setting up and I was happy to see that they have a female drummer. Great strides have been made since I was a wee lass, but I still feel like punk and its varying offshoots are too male dominated. Unfortunately, I was not very into Criminal Damage, despite having liked what I heard by them online. It seemed that a good part of the crowd was there to see them, and they certainly weren’t bad, but from what I heard it was not super interesting. Kinda street punk with typical vocals and choruses. Not that there was anything wrong with their singer, but I thought actually that if they had a different singer it might mix things up in a good way. I spent the majority of their set hanging around outside.

Subhumans were up next and I loved them. They sounded really good. At one point I noticed that someone behind me was belting out all the words to every single song and I turned and saw that it was a woman who, from her outward appearance, one might not take for a big Subhumans fan. I love that! Later in the show, she got up on stage (the only person to do so, if I recall correctly), grabbed Dick, the singer, gave him a big kiss on his sweaty cheek, and then flipped into the crowd. Totally excellent. Meanwhile, there was a nice pit throughout and a lot of good energy. I think my favorite song of the evening was “Mickey Mouse Is Dead.” When the fast part came in, I got quite excited and so did everyone else. It is just so good!

For those unfamiliar with them, Subhumans were formed in 1980 and I guess you’d cast them as anarcho punk…I think they are pretty straightforward punk, less street sounding, not super weird but not boring either. They have piles of fast songs, although they’re generally not as short as a lot of hardcore typically is. They are extremely political in what I think is a consistently literate way. They have a new album out called Internal Riot which is not my favorite by them but still quite a good effort. I think it’s very cool that they decided to put out a new album and tour on it after all these years, and I am happy to reap the rewards of them doing so by going to their show, feeling inspired, and having a great time! Thanks, Subhumans!