Subhumans, The Enemies, The Voids: live, at the Roxy, Hollywood, CA 03/31/03 By Donofthedead

Apr 09, 2003

It's been one year short of twenty years since I have seen the Subhumans. The last time I saw them, it was at the Olympic Auditorium and even though I was young, I worked as a bouncer with a bunch of skinheads. It was an easy way to get into gigs for free. Also, I had to prove myself by being overly energetic and willing to jump into the crowd to keep people off the stage. I am, by the way, not the most intimidating person you will ever meet.

It was one of those days that I felt a little anxiety and things were not going to go as planned. The email confirming my attendance from the publicity person for the Subhumans' upcoming release was a bit vague for me but confirmed that I would be attending this gig. Things didn't go as planned. I got to the venue early to hopefully avoid what is inevitable in my psyche. I was with my handy date, Matt, who always comes thorough when my wife doesn't want to go to a gig with me. We bumped into friends next door at the Rainbow Room and hung out waiting for the box office to open. Once the box office opened, I went to it and told the lady that I should be on the guest list with my usual +1 and a photo pass so I could take some pictures. The lady scanned the list and, low and behold, I was not on the guest list. What a surprise! I kept myself calm and was told that they might receive more names soon. I scanned the parking lot to see if anybody from the band or the label might be available for help. Not a fat chance. I went back to my group of friends and told them of our predicament. One of my friends received a phone call on his cell and reported to us that one of the group couldn't make the gig. He had rear-ended a van and his car was totaled. One extra ticket was then available. I told my long-time buddy, Matt, to use said ticket and I'd go home if I couldn't get in. Since I had driven to the gig and said friends lived close to him, he could attend the gig and get a ride home. My date decided to hang with me for awhile and felt guilty that he decided to go into the venue. I reassured him that it would be fine if he went in. I would have felt bad if he didn't go in. I was the one who had invited him to the gig in the first place.

I stood out front while the helpful lady in box office tried to contact the stage manager to go try and contact the band about my situation. I was told to wait while people inside were trying to work out my problem. I had waited outside alone, missing the Voids and most of the Enemies' sets. Luckily, we were having unseasonable weather and it wasn't that cold at night. Feeling like a complete loser, I was just about ready to leave when I heard the lady in the box office yell for my attention. She said she had the booker on the phone and she wanted to talk to me. The booker was very sympathetic to my plight and offered to put me on the house list since she was told that I was waiting outside for a long time. She said that the label did not send her any guest list for that night but had received one for the following night. I was grateful and thanked her. What a turn in luck! I proceeded through the gauntlet of security measures to go in while the Enemies played their last song.

I got in and the place was packed! Why did they decide to play at this venue when they could have easily booked a larger venue and still sold the damn thing out? The last time the Subhumans played in So Cal, it was out in buttfuck nowhere and the large hall sold out and brought out people from all parts in between. I went and found my friends and told them of my lucky outcome.

With plenty of time to spare, I went up to the stage early to stake a starting spot to take pictures. What is it with many of the high-end clubs these days that you can only take pictures during the first three songs? That puts unnecessary pressure on a non-photographer to get shots that will most likely be unusable. The band got on stage and the crowd surged forward. At the position that I was standing, I waited as the first chord is struck. When melody hit the air, my finger started depressing the shutter release on the camera. After a few shots, I moved in a counter-clockwise motion through the crowd and took photos to the best of my ability. Getting banged around (my back still feels the pain) by the crowd, I continued to fire my camera overhead, hoping that a high percentage can be used. By the third song, I miraculously finished a roll of film. I headed back to the perch my group had claimed. Then I focused on the music.

As I stood in the back of the club, relaxing, soaking in the music. I came to the realization that the Subhumans are one those unique bands of our music genre. They take the elements of punk rock and make it their own. The guitar sound is very distinctive while they infuse elements of jazz, rock, and ska to express the lyrical intelligence of singer, Dick Lucas. The guitar comparison is important because, like the Dead Kennedys, their music is very identifiable in a short amount of listening time. It's hard to make comparisons to the Subhumans because their sound is used as a reference.

The set was amazing! They took tracks from their massive catalog and played with conviction to the audience. There wasn't a dull moment throughout. The audience responded and showed their appreciation by dancing, singing, and giving back the energy they were receiving. The energy level was close to being out of control when a fight amongst some inebriated audience members came about. Dick, being who he is, called those who were fighting and proceeded to sing about idiots like those who were fighting and joining the armed services to be controlled by some leader. Dick also addressed the crowd about his opinions of the current war and told everybody of his theories about the current situation. The crowd cheered and they progressed along through their set. The set ended and the crowd wanted more. A chant of "Subhumans" lasted for over five minutes. The band members must have been tired. They reappeared on stage. For the first song of the encore set, I heard the opening chords to my favorite Subhumans song, "Rats." I felt a chill run though my spine. The hairs on my arm stood at attention. The sweat from the over-abundant heat that was swashing around my butt cheeks didn't seem to matter. I was in my personal euphoria. I jumped up on a chair and sang to every word like it mattered. As they finished the three-song mini set, I was satisfied. I no longer felt the grief that I had endured to get into this gig.

I am stating right now that I am not an expert of the Subhumans. I probably couldn't name more than a few songs off their catalog - but one thing for sure, I have listened to most of what their output is throughout the years and that is because of my friends. And because of my friends, I enjoy seeing them live. On their on again, off again, over twenty years of existence, they showed to me that they are icons and important piece of the large puzzle we call punk.

I wonder if they ever will do a Culture Shock reunion.

To check out The Subhumans more, try this link: