Unnatural Helpers at the 1-2-3-4 Go! 10th Anniversary Shows: Oakland Metro Opera House, Oakland, CA, July 22, 2011 By Federico

Sep 19, 2011

For those of youse unawares, record label (and store) 1-2-3-4 Go! celebrated its 10th Anniversary by having a weekend full of shows (and some other fun stuff) at the Oakland Metro Opera House a few weeks ago. They made gorgeous posters for the shows that were posted up all over town.

I bought my tickets and headed over. I won’t write about all the bands (some of which—the Bananas, Rock N’ Roll Adventure Kids, for example—I have written about in the past), but I did want to mention a few:

Unfortunately, I missed Uzi Rash (http://www.myspace.com/uzirash), the first band on the first night, which I was interested in checking out. They seem a bit weird and discordant. Try as I might though, I did not manage to get over there in time. Curses! I did not despair too much as they seem to play around a fair amount and I think I can catch them another time.

Unnatural Helpers (http://www.myspace.com/unnaturalhelpers) from Seattle, Washington was the first band I saw. I’d never heard them before but I quite liked them! Right away they grabbed me like a friend playing Jaws in the river and they pulled me under. The bass was what first caught my ear because it was fierce. They are four guys—two guitarists, a bassist, and a singing drummer. The guitars were really sharp and clear. I liked the singer’s voice. There were just a couple songs that I was not super into and those seemed to be the “easier” ones, if you get what I mean. To Unnatural Helpers I say, “Embrace your weirdness!” Yes. I liked when they got weird and when they stretched out these banging, repetitive rhythms. This may seem like a serious stretch (because they really don’t sound the same at all), but in one of their songs I actually heard a little “Deathface” by Some Girls because of the repetitiveness (in a good way). They sounded great! I picked up a 7” with really nice artwork. I love the song “Shakes” along with the slower “Waiting Such a Long Time.” Check it out.

Cute Lepers (http://www.myspace.com/thecutelepers), also from Seattle, played a fun set (as usual). I don’t think I’ve ever mentioned them before, although I am a fan. I am not positive, but I think it is likely they often get compared to the Briefs (because there are a few guys in the Cute Lepers that were in the Briefs), and that is probably annoying. So let’s set the record straight here. I love the Briefs, but they are not the Briefs. They are way poppier. That doesn’t mean they aren’t good, unless you don’t like pop music. They do have some faster songs and you can hear the punk in there, but it’s not the same. Okay. Personally, I love Steve E. Nix’s voice. I especially love “Prove It,” so I was glad they played that. Thanks, Lepers!

In between sets there were some guest DJs and some good tunes were heard by all.

Another couple bands I will mention: Street Eaters (http://streeteaters.com/) from Oakland, featuring Johnny Geek (Fleshies, Triclops!) on guitar/vocals and Megan March (Before The Fall) on drums/vocals. The more I see this band, the more I like them. Socially conscious lyrics, hard-hitting drums, duel vocals, fuzzed-out guitar. Good stuff.

Arctic Flowers (http://www.myspace.com/arcticflowerspdx) from Portland, Oregon. I had been hearing a lot about them so I was glad to get the opportunity to check them out. To me, there is a lot of old Cure and Siouxsie in their guitar/bass and they have a kind of post-punk sound. They have a female singer, but she has her own voice and does not just sound like a Siouxsie copy, which is great. I liked them.

Zero Boys (http://www.zeroboys.net/) from Indianapolis, Indiana. First of all, over this weekend I learned that 1-2-3-4 Go! is actually named after a Zero Boys song (“New Generation”). Cool! I missed Zero Boys when I was growing up (a smidge too early for me), but Vicious Circle (1982) is a totally excellent hardcore record. In my opinion, it stands the test of time quite handily. I was really looking forward to seeing them and they did not disappoint! At the beginning of their set things seemed a bit worrisome for a minute because they decided to play some new songs (who knew they even had new songs?). Suffice it to say, the crowd was not very excited. One guy actually threw a bottle and hit the guitarist, who decided that he was done and started to walk off the stage. This was during the second song, so it would have really sucked if he had left! The singer spoke to him for a minute, though, and he stayed. The singer also called out to the crowd to see who had thrown the bottle and this guy to my right, Max, claimed that he did and went up to the stage. Max and the singer had a bit of a disagreement. Max said their new songs sucked and the singer basically said it was only their second song, they can play what they want, and he should cut them some slack. Then Max was escorted out, while the singer cheekily pointed out they would now go on to play Vicious Circle in its entirety. “Hope it sounds good from outside, Max!” Ha! I don’t know how it sounded from out there, but I can confirm it sounded just fine from the inside, just fine indeed. There was a big old pit and the songs were fast and tight and people were happy.

Lesson: If you’re going to be a dickhead and throw a bottle, at least wait until a few songs in.

Happy Anniversary 1-2-3-4 Go!