The Rival Mob
Friday, March 8, 2013
1-2-3-4 Go! Records, Oakland
Better than: Everything. (Mob Rules All)
Brendan Radigan, the charismatic frontman of the Rival Mob, took the stage, picked up the mic, and delivered one of the most passionate political speeches in the history of hardcore.
"Steel toed boots? Check. Wild party animals? Check. . . Boot Party!"
And with that, the hardcore superstars known as the Rival Mob tore into the start of a wild set inside a jam-packed 1-2-3-4 Go! records in Oakland.
"Boot Party," a defiant "I'll do what I want" type of anthem that tells politically correct punks and Nazis alike to collectively "Fuck off," was the spark that lit what was soon to be a raging fire inside the capacity crowd. Like most concert fires, trampling ensued, but this wasn't in a rush for the exits -- it was willful. The band and crowd collectively erupted into a hardcore fury, with everyone from Radigan to crowd members throwing wild punches at the air and each other.
There is a certain raw energy embedded into the Rival Mob's pounding hardcore that made the crowd, made up of mostly males 18-30, revert back to their most primitive nature. It was like the stomping breakdowns triggered the base of their DNA. Crowd members lost all consciousness and were left with only their most animalistic mosh instincts.
If you asked Radigan what the band's new LP, Mob Justice,
sounds like, he would probably tell you (in a thick Boston accent) something along the lines of, "It transcends all forms of music. From the first sounds fucking cavemen started making with dinosaur bones and shit up 'til this record is nothin'." We're not sure if that's true, but when the Rival Mob plays, it causes a scene just as barbaric as cavemen dancing around a fire.
Maybe the savagery arrives because after showing up early to the show, packing into the storefront shoulder-to-shoulder to wait in line before being herded like cattle into the tiny performance space, and waiting 30 minutes for the show to start in the (now) sweaty hotbox, there really wasn't much "human" left in anyone. Just a gang of sweaty, disgusting angry youth waiting for the Rival Mob to play so they could punch each other in the face.
At times punk and hardcore, especially here in the Bay Area, can become overburdened with regurgitated political ideologies and mentions of things like "radical communities" and "safe spaces." By coming to town and playing Oakland and then San Francisco in the same night, the the Rival Mob provided the Bay Area with a much needed shot of "hardcore for hardcore."
Because come on, "what the fuck else?"
There are some people who dislike The Rival Mob for their approach to hardcore. Radigan addressed those concerns very seriously on stage.
"They say we're jocks because they want our bodies," he said to the crowd, shirtless.
Never Healed, a tough-as-fuck band that hasn't played a show in several years, got back together to play before Rival Mob. Their intense, dark, and heavy brand of hardcore got the crowd moving and singing along to the singer's wailing vocals. The singer had this great palm up and out stance that looked his insides were screaming "Why!?" One of the lyrics we could make out was "forever!" The way the frontman and all his friends were screaming it, you could tell they meant it. Also, it's important to note that the guitar player from Ceremony (yes, the one with that haircut) was a member.
The show was opened by Lies playing its first show. The music was down-tuned hardcore featuring an ex-member of Ceremony (No, not the one with that haircut). But honestly, we could hardly hear any of the songs after their frontman decided to consistently put the microphone up to his nose instead of his mouth while screaming. It was, without a doubt, one of the funniest/coolest/most unique stylistic choices we've seen. Critic's Notebook: Why did you bring me here?
Hardcore, particularly straight-edge hardcore, or hardcore that can be perceived as "macho," has the tendency to draw mostly male crowds. That was very evident at this show. Don't get me wrong: There were some girls tearing it up in the pit and stage diving, but they were very heavily outnumbered.
I didn't really notice this too much until I looked back in line and saw this one young lady's face. It said it all. I didn't talk to her, her boyfriend, or any of their friends, but her face told the whole story.
In fact I would argue her facial expression described not only the show, but hardcore in general -- we're freaks.
She was wearing that classic mix of discomfort, horror, and anger that one can only see on a girlfriend's face when you bring them to a perfectly freaky show.
It's the delicate balance between "Oh my god, where am I?" "Why don't these people shower?" and "You said we were going to a concert, not Comic-Con."