The main reason that I went to this show was that I wanted to meet Reed Mullin, the former drummer for the Raleigh band Corrosion of Conformity, who now drums (and sings) for Man Will Destroy Himself. I wanted to show him a letter that he had written to me eighteen years ago when I was ordering a demo from his other band at the time, No Labels. Being the pack rat that I am, I had stashed the letter inside the jacket of the first COC LP. Oddly enough, I'd never met Reed. The Raleigh punk bands had trouble getting booked in Charlotte in the mid-80's due to a feud that I'd heard was started by a then-influential Charlotte punk whose girlfriend left him for a Raleigh punk. Whatever...
I almost lost all interest in punk for about ten years starting in the mid-'80s and therefore never heard any of the subsequent COC albums. I knew that they had gone in a more metal direction which was a musical style I never cared much for. So, I went to this show expecting MWDH to try my patience with more metal than punk as the opening band, Ghost Story, had done. Happily, MWDH blew me away with a frenzied early '80s hardcore punk attack. Their two covers, The Circle Jerks' "Red Tape" and Black Flag's "Rise Above," clearly defined the parameters in which their original material lives and breathes. All four members spent some time singing lead that night. One of the guitarists, Sam, (all band members are identified only by first name on the MWDH CD) is a veteran of another early '80s NC HC band, Bloodmobile, who hailed from Statesville but were more part of the Raleigh scene than part of our shabby Charlotte scene. There's even an old Bloodmobile song in the MWDH set list.
There was a decent-sized crowd at the club and they seemed responsive to the band, but I didn't feel that this was a punk audience exactly. I stood closest to the front and when I looked beside me I noticed a girl wearing an "original TSOL" t-shirt. I realized that she and I were probably the two people there that this music was affecting the most deeply.
After the show I met all the guys, and yes, Reed was quite impressed that I still had his vintage letter. I was quite impressed with the band's lack of music industry bullshit. With COC having been a major label band at one time, I was happy to see that Reed's new punk band seems untouched by the typical "we're trying to make it big" mentality. They were selling their manufactured CDs for $5. Reed gave me twelve copies and asked if I would do him a "favor" and give copies to people who I thought would like the music. From what I could tell of their lyrics (both live and on CD), their politics also seem straight out of the early '80s hardcore "trust yourself not leaders" ideology with a nod and wink to some good-natured smashing of the state. You can check out some of their ideas on their website at www.mwdh.net. I didn't stick around for Black Lagoon because I was tired and because they're local and play around here a lot.
At a time when non-clichéd, inspired, and inspiring punk bands have to work hard for an audience among the many, micro-sized punk factions, I hope these guys can carve out their niche. Maybe next time that TSOL t-shit wearing girl and I will be pressed up against the wall.