F-Minus, A Global Threat, Full Blown Chaos, Minority Party: Live, Aug.13, 2003 at Tremont Music Hall, NC By Chris

Another Wednesday night punk show in Charlotte! We don’t get that many touring punk bands here, but when we do they usually play on Wednesday night. I know a guy who used to run a club here and he said once that touring bands like to play DC one weekend and Atlanta the next, thus explaining why our geographic location nets us the middle-of-the-week punk show.

First up was Minority Party. They’re local and this is where I have to do that full disclosure thing that Todd Taylor does so well. Minority Party’s drummer, Dave Loebs, is the younger brother of Chris Loebs who played drums in the band I’m in from 1999-2003. We got Minority Party their first show at this club and have enjoyed playing with them ever since. If you can judge their music by their clothes, I know that I’ve seen bass player Russ wearing his Leftover Crack t-shirt almost as often as I’ve seen drummer Dave wearing his Operation Ivy hoodie (though I’ve never heard any ska in Minority Party’s music) I know that they all like Rancid so that should give you some idea of where they’re coming from musically. Russ and Dave are an absolutely killer rhythm section and Adam and Jeff spazz out nicely on guitar. Everybody sings.

Tonight’s show was as solid and as fun as all their shows I’ve seen with the only difference being that Adam was more wound up and demonstrative than usual. From what I can make out of their lyrics, when they’re not hating Republicans they’re complaining about “rotten twats” and girlfriends who “smell like fat people”! For what it’s worth, all of the members are sixteen years old except for the old man of the group, Dave. He’s nineteen. They have an accelerated sense of rocking out to go along with their heightened sense of smell. Oh, and Dave has a pompom sticking out of the hole in his kick drum. His rapid, old-school hardcore beats get the pompom shaking mightily.

Next up was Full Blown Chaos. These guys were so big and burly that I felt I did not have the sufficient testosterone level to get into their equally tough guy music. Their fans were also big, burly guys who liked to dance alone, swinging their fists wildly except for when they were doing this dance that I believe one of my old PE teachers had us do as an exercise called “picking cotton.” I didn’t think of their music as punk, more like macho-metalcore.

Although they’ve been around for some time and have lots of releases out, until this show I had never heard A Global Threat. The intro to the first song had a mid-tempo, 77-punk flavor to its slashing guitar chords that felt like a cool breeze washing over me compared to the Mr. Clean scent left by Full Blown Chaos. Once that song kicked in, it reached an early ’80s Brit punk tempo and that’s where most of the set remained. I enjoyed them just fine. Had I been familiar with their music, I’m sure I would have liked them more.

F-Minus played last and their music I am familiar with. I was lucky enough to find a used copy of their Suburban Blight CD about a week before they played their first Charlotte show, opening for Agnostic Front in Oct. 2001. I listened to it every day before the show, but it didn’t prepare me for the onslaught of energy and power that they put out live. I thought they were the standout band of that four-band night. (I think the other two bands who also played were All and Kill Your Idols.) The next recording I heard of theirs was their incredible version of Middle Class’ “Love Is Just a Tool” which I found on a Suburban Voice compilation but is also on a split CD that F-Minus did with Crack Rock Steady. My favorite of their three lead screamers was Jen Johnson, also their bass player at the time. I loved her banshee wail so much that I tried to get her to sing back-up on my band’s last CD, but my e-mail to the clothing company she now runs (www.ecstar.net) went unanswered. When I heard that she had left the band I thought I might not like the group as much anymore. While I still have not heard their new album, Wake Up Screaming, I can tell you that after seeing this show, F-Minus can still kick harder live than most bands I see. I had watched all of tonight’s bands from out front, but for whatever reason I gravitated to the side of the stage for F-Minus and I’m glad I did. I love the thrill of being that close to such a powerful band on a good night. I was so close that new bassist Joe Steinbeck almost clocked me in the head three times. The lead screaming is now split between guitarists Brad Logan and Erica Daking. I think they only did one song from Suburban Blight, so I assume that the rest of the set was new material. Some of their new songs hooked me immediately. They played with such fierce intensity that despite Jen’s departure they are still on my A List.

Sadly enough, a few days later on the F-Minus message board the group posted a notice saying that their longtime drummer, Adam Zuckert, would be leaving the band because he is unable to tour anymore. In other words, F-Minus is looking for a new drummer. I hope they can find the right person and keep this band going. I know from personal experience that playing in a punk band can sometimes seem like a thankless task. Hopefully, they can continue to get the positive feedback and support they need to keep going. I know how much I appreciate them.

Charlotte has gone back to a serious lack of touring punk shows. The next one I’m interested in is New Mexican Disaster Squad on Oct.5 (that’s a Sunday, how’d that happen?). Next weekend Minority Party will be playing a record store. Dave and Chris’ youngest brother Andrew (he’s ten) will be debuting his band, The Blamed Monkeys. I will be there… along with all the kids!