D4th of July, 2014: At The Triple Rock Social Club, Minneapolis, MN By Daryl Gussin

Oct 28, 2014

If you can do it, summer is a great time to get out of Los Angeles. First, the heat makes people insane. Your bike’s inner tubes start popping if you leave them outside too long. The beer kind of has a way of evaporating before it even goes down your throat. I know there are plenty of harsher environments all around the world, but the bullshit is always easier to deal with when you’re somewhere that you don’t call home.

When the idea of heading out to Minneapolis to visit my wife’s grandfather and uncle popped up, deciding when to make the trip seemed obvious. “Well, let’s see. We can do it when nothing in particular is going on, or we could go when my favorite band in the world is playing back-to-back shows at the bar that one of them owns!” Within minutes, flights were booked. We were going to D4th of July: the annual two-day celebration of Dillinger Four and a diverse selection of bands that they had chosen to join them, all housed in Erik Funk’s own Triple Rock Social Club. It’s an inspiring and intoxicating event. A fleeting pilgrimage for those of us who live many miles away and want to absorb as much as possible in a city we have only known through the bands that it has birthed. The pop punk, the power trash, the most tantalizing hardcore, all seeped out of these basements and changed our ears forever. Could I really do it any justice with the little time I had?

The answer was no. It ended up being a pretty unfortunate visit, with most of the time spent with my wife in a hospital at her grandfather’s bedside. But being there for a family member when they’re going through a crisis is not something to take lightly, and I did get to spend some time walking the banks of the Mississippi when I needed a break from the IVs and smell of hand sanitizer. Each night we got in the car and tried to rationalize the situation; there wasn’t anything we could really do to improve his condition, and if we didn’t go to these shows we were going to regret it.

This year’s D4th was separated by subgenre. The bands playing Friday were varying degrees of melodic, while Saturday’s roster was on the more aggressive side of the spectrum. A real Midwestern blend of fuck-it-all-let’s-party. Local Minneapolis band Lutheran Heat opened up the night with some twang and the weekend had officially started. People went totally bonkers for Direct Hit and Masked Intruder. A quartet of Belgians known as The Priceduifkes put on a pretty hilarious show, decked out in USA jerseys and talking plenty of shit. Canadian Rifle and The Brokedowns were as amazing as you’d expect them to be. Sure, these bands definitely belong on the melodic show, but these are savage melodies. Relentless in originality. They were the perfect openers for Dillinger Four’s Friday night set.

Contrary to popular belief, I’m not stupid. I’ve seen D4 more than a handful of times and I never take it for granted, but sometimes they can be a lot tighter than other times. In the back of my mind, I knew it might be possible for them to not play the tightest set. But I also figured seeing them twice in one weekend increased my odds for seeing them at their best. Well, Friday night, they were fucking on! Like a freighter drunk on diesel, they cranked out the hits, even playing C I V I L W A R’s “The Classical Arrangement” live for the first time ever. It was a truly powerful set. Even though our trip wasn’t going how we had planned, we were glad we were there.

Saturday’s lineup consisted of a good amount of bands I had never heard of, but I was informed that it was a pretty accurate representation of the Minneapolis punk scene, so I definitely paid attention to what was being dished out. Full-bore crust punk thrasher-time as bands such as War//Plague, Zero, and Architectis Death Spiral ripped through their sets. Then came the doom, courtesy of Vulgaari. Nary a moment of peace for those who looked upon. It was heavy and dirty and the ideal soundtrack for hanging out and drinking beer.

The Night Birds played before D4 that night, and their live shows are well documented for a reason. They know how to knock out a fucking energetic set! I’m sure Brian was driving the sound guy crazy when he’d stick the mic up to the guitar cab during PJ’s scalding hot solos, but everyone else thought it was awesome. So goddamn loud.

Before D4 came on, I knew this was going to be my last time enjoying some Midwestern beer for a while so I went and got a tall boy of Old Style and Grain Belt. My selections ended up being the proper accompaniment to D4’s set. While it was definitely a loose one, it didn’t matter. Most of us had seen them the night before. I went from not seeing them in five years to not seeing them in twenty-four hours. Things had changed. They could have botched every note of every song and sang the lyrics in ways that didn’t rhyme or make sense, and I still would have enjoyed it. Just watching them do their own thing in their own home was enough.

I don’t want perfection. I want character. And I like it when shows are fun. For their final song of the weekend, they crashed through a version of “Sally Maclennane” and everyone hung on for dear life. I stood in the center of the room trying to catch the chaos and beauty with my piece of shit digital camera. It was not possible. The damage that had been done was on a scale which one has to live through to see. People started trickling out, the show was over, and it was time to head home.

While I look back on this weekend with mixed emotions, it isn’t without resolve. The struggles of aging will never end, both in the decisions you're forced to make and the ones that your body makes for you. We strive for independence, but can never escape the shackles of our physical bodies. This is all the more reason we must work for what we believe in. All the more reason to spend your days wisely. I feel inspired by what the D4 guys have created. A physical shelter to house their passion. An event that would look ridiculously conceited if done by others, but they pull it off. The resilience of growing up with punk, rather than growing out of punk.

Hanging out before one of the shows, someone told me they had never listened to the D4’s 2008 release, C I V I L W A R. I tried to explain to them how important some of those songs are. The part that immediately comes to mind is the bridge in the track “Gainesville.” For just three lines, these sentences cut deep. “Time was wasted, we’re moving way too slow / Let’s go before we’re old / Time doesn’t wait for me.” Life is urgent. Never forget how quickly things can change, for the good and the bad.

Get up and go!