Subhumans’ vocalist Dick Lucas celebrated his 2,000th gig performance at the (soon to be moving) Showcase Theatre in Corona, California. “This is the greatest place in the world!” he shouted to the packed, sold-out house of eager, stinky, and mostly young anarcho punks.
Rumors abound, but the fact of the matter is that the long-lived Showcase Theatre is going to move—IT IS NOT CLOSING DOWN—to a new location which has yet to be determined. Reliable sources have informed me that the new Showcase Theatre may be located in Rancho Cucamonga, but no decisions have been made at the time of this writing. In the meantime, a slew of great shows have been coming down the pipe for those of us who have grown to feel that the Showcase is our home away from home.
First on the bill was a band called Hit Me Back. Ehh…it was sort of okay. To me, it sounded mostly like four dudes playing annoying mullet-crust with a few bright moments. This band would do better to play the chunky riffs and quick beats that sounded good, rather than the…never mind…it was annoying mullet-crust with possible potential.
Second on stage was a five-piece called Intro5pect. Isn’t that cool how they spell “introspect” with the number five? This was some pretty good stuff. It made me think, “What if Subhumans and Epoxies had an offspring named ‘Epox-hum-ans?’ It would be something like this band and that’s pretty cool. Unlike the Epoxies, and much like Subhumans, Intro5pect takes a very serious approach to its intense, and 8th note-dominated music. So much so that the alluring female keyboardist gave me a dirty look when I playfully shouted, “Control-alt-delete!” in reference to her onstage computer setup. Whatever. It sounded like hard, melodious, and harmonic Nintendo punk with a lot of verse-reply-verse-reply-chorus and a few headbanging moments. It was nice and tight, and kept chugging quickly along, but after a while, the songs started to sound alike. Standout moment: The band’s cover of Shelter’s “Just Another Drug.”
“Fuck yeah!” I said to myself as the four dudes known as Criminal Damage began their Black Flag and Blitz-inspired, big guitar, punk-as-fuck set. Raw, fast, intense, and tight with lots of cool sing-alongs is what we got. This is one of those bands that make you feel like you are part of a movement even though you don’t know the words. Overall, it was gruff, tight, and manly with short, excellent, and well-placed guitar solos. The cover of Black Flag’s “Jealous Again” was right on! Say “Fuck yeah!” for yourself by visiting: www.myspace.com/criminaldamagepdx - but I don’t think these guys ever check the site.
The anticipation was as thick as the body odor wafting up from the legions of crust punks and other related stinkers while waiting for the U.K.’s Subhumans to take the stage. The Showcase staff led Dick through the crowd and lifted him onto the waist-high stage to a roomful of cheers and applause. After a few words of praise to the Showcase staff and ownership, Subhumans ripped right into “Parasite.” All night long, the crowd sang each and every lyric to each and every song. Well, the voices dropped a bit with the tunes from the band’s latest release, Internal Riot, but the intensity and enthusiasm never dropped one bit. The band’s set consisted of twenty songs, including the encore, culminating with the epic and hauntingly ominous “Religious Wars.” “In the name of God, they left you to diiie!” The long set also included, “Nothing I Can Do,” “Who’s Gonna Fight in the Third World War?”, “Waste of Breath,” “Mickey Mouse Is Dead,” “Drugs of Youth,” and a whole bunch more. Even though Subhumans only plays occasionally, the band was tight and sounded just as good as it ever did. I stood next to the bass player all night and came to realize that Phil’s extraordinary and adroit finger-work is absolutely incredible and essential to the trademark Subhumans’ sound—just as much as Dick’s distinctive voice.
The ripe-smelling, bespectacled Mr. Lucas was completely drenched in sweat within the space of three songs. The room was thick with the scent of energized, sweaty kids and the exhilarating feeling that comes from a shared sense of sticking together in the midst of ugly reality. The slam sessions were going in full effect and a smaller, but equally intense slam pit started up off to the side under the balcony. The occasional stage diver flew by, but most people were too focused on the show to go about calling attention to themselves. The few older fans like myself surely noticed the sad irony of how Subhumans’ lyrics are just as relevant today as when they were written two decades ago. Some things never change; governments start bullshit wars so the rich can get richer, the masses are mindless, conditioned sheep, and punk rock can make you feel good about feeling bad.
Afterward, a couple of dozen giddy fans gathered around the dripping Dick (get it?) lauding him with compliments, admiration, and requests for autographs. Dick obliged the autograph hounds for a short time, but soon became uncomfortable with the celebrity treatment. Surely, he enjoys being an anti-celebrity, but true to form, our beloved anti-hero took a hasty exit while quickly suggesting the autograph seekers to give autographs to each other. I laughed, looked around, and took a few moments to savor the feeling of being in the hominess of Showcase Theatre. Thanks to everyone for another great time! I’m gonna miss this place when its gone, but I can’t wait to see what they build next.