Thursday, 6 September 2012
Jesus Chrust + Apostates + Nausea - live at Gilman Street, Berkeley 01.12.1990
Let's leave Britain for a little while (well, at least for a couple of posts) and take at look at what was going on on the other side of what is called "the pond". The tape we're dealing with was released by BBP Records, a label that released no less than 94 different tapes with every classic British anarchopunk bands you can think of, but also a couple of Ep's (a live of Icons of Filth and "Money and riot" by Bug Central). However, this one tape has three bands from New York from the late 80's/early 90's playing live at a legendary venue located in Berkeley.
The first band on the tape is Jesus Chrust. Now I know it is a brilliant name for a punk and there were two bands with the same name at the same time, but the Jesus Chrust we're talking about here is the listenable anarchopunk one and not the crazy noisecore band. Jesus Chrust was part of the "Squat or rot" scene ("Squat or rot" was an anarchist DIY magazine turned punk label) and gravitated around the NY squatters' movement like Apostates and Nausea. They did two split Ep's (with fellow New Yorkers Social Outcasts and Würst) and appeared on a couple of compilations I have never seen or even heard. While Nausea remain a famous band among the smelly punks everywhere, it is somewhat odd that most of the other "Squat or rot" band sank into obscurity afterwards... And in the case of Jesus Chrust, it is really a shame, since listening to that live tape makes one realize that what they did was certainly ahead of their time in the sense that they heralded the whole 90's US anarchopunk/crusty explosion. The sound on the JC set is really good and you can hear the energy and the anger of the band but also their jokes between songs as they seemed to be pretty chatty and introduced the topics they are screaming about. We are deep in anarcho territory here with songs dealing with animal experimentation, the absurdities of war, apartheid, racism and so on. The band manages to keep it very spontaneous and you can just hear the motivation and honesty behind the lyrics despite them being rather unoriginal (well, for the US they may not have been so). And they appeared to have fun playing! Musically, it is fast and gruffy hardcore-punk with two vocalists, one of them being the original Nausea singer Neil, the future Final Warning singer and the founder of Tribal War Records (definitely a busy man). It is reminiscent of some of the British greats like Antisect, Anti-System, Oi Polloi or AOA as well as some Californian anarcho bands like Final Conflict, Another Destructive System, Glycine Max or Diatribe. Some songs even have a distinct crusty feel to them (read poorly executed, filthy but catchy metal riffs) and the dual vocal attack is not unlike ENT or Screaming Holocaust at times. I really, really enjoy Jesus Chrust and if you have never listened to them, this live set is actually not a bad place to start at all. As mentioned earlier, in the light of what went on after them (they must have split up in 92), it could be argued that they musically prefigured the next anarcho wave and bands like Aus-Rotten or Antiproduct. Great stuff.
Apostates are possibly even lesser-known than Jesus Chrust. They did an excellent Ep called "Burning world of hate", had a track on one of the "Squat or rot compilation" Ep but that's it. And, again, that's a real shame because if Jesus Chrust were be the American Anti-System, Apostates might very well be the yankee version of the Mob. They have that mid-paced, earthy, dark but also bizarrely warm sound that is not unlike the Mob indeed, though it must be said that Apostates are much more guitar-driven than the Mob ever were (they were all about bass guitar, weren't they?). Anyway, there are only 6 songs of Apostates on the tape, one of which is the intro and the last one is unfortunately cut right in the middle. Judging from what I can understand and the songs' titles, they were a political band as well and they had an anti-work song (they're always my favourites, go figure) not unlike APPLE's perhaps. This is really good dark and catchy punk-rock we have here not unlike The Mob, but also Terminus or Wartoys, without ever going "new-wave".
Finally, the heavyweight of the tape of course, we have Nausea. Now I love Nausea as much as the next crusty (probably more actually) but if I understood well what Jesus Chrust were saying between songs, Insurgence were also playing that night, and frankly what the world needs right now is a live of Insurgence, or their demo, but I am pretty sure it could survive another day without another live of Nausea. This said, Nausea must have been great live despite the fact that most of their live recordings, even those that made it to vinyl, don't sound that great. This one has a pretty good sound, my only complaint being that Al's vocals are too low, which is odd since Jesus Chrust and Apostates had a great sound. The band was just about to release their great "Cybergod" Ep so you can guess that the setlist is made up of songs from the "Extinction" Lp and aforementioned Ep. This is Nausea at their very best according to me, when they played that typical English crust (late Antisect, Axegrinder, Hellbastard...) but also had faster, more straight-forward dischargey songs as well. They had that superb guitar sound, great bass lines, a brilliant drummer, a male and a female singer that really meant it (well, they sounded they did anyway), amazing lyrics, amazing artwork. I mean, Nausea really had it all and that live was recorded as the band was at the top of its game. What a great gig it must have been...
So, does anyone have any live recordings of Insurgence?