Monday, November 15, 2010

Rations & Hjertestop at La Casa - almost, but not quite, Coke Bust

On Thursday, I went to the Coke Bust record release show at La Casa. Coke Bust did not end up playing. The show started with Rations playing to a full house. As the band performed its final two songs, people jumped and sang along. Flinging his cast around, even Jason Toner paced across the mosh pit. (He was speeding down a hill on his bike a few weeks ago when someone hit him with a car door. The collision shattered the bones in his arm - a metal plate; I don't remember the exact details of his surgery.) No additional arm injuries for him.

Cop Stabber played and, bored, I retreated outside. I was talking with some friends while, near us, a drunk, homeless man laid on the sidewalk and a drugged-up, dirt-encrusted kid stumbled into clusters of people talking. A business on the block called the police. Mark Anderson from Positive Force, who acted as an envoy for the space, pled with the homeless man to accept help and go to a shelter. An expressionless officer stationed himself next to the homeless man and watched Mark try to convince the man to leave. Meanwhile, the drugged kid stared at his shoes and swayed slightly for several minutes before reeling over. A trouble seeker, who is banned from a few clubs in DC, told a police officer that the band playing was called Cop Stabber. The police went inside.

For the audience, it was probably surreal seeing cops enter while Cop Stabber played. I don't know their lyrics and was just glad that they hadn't started some anti-cop diatribe while the cops dealt with underage drunks, the drugged up kid, and the homeless man. One of the officers left La Casa pointing inside and saying that the band had a stupid name, but the guys were alright. The officer smiled and said that he shook the singer's hand.

Mark Anderson was flustered and someone important from La Casa had walked by, witnessing the chaos. I got the impression that the La Casa representative was angry to the point of prohibiting future shows in the spot. Mark broadcasted that the show must be over by 10:15 at the latest. The time was 9:40 and Hjertestop, from Denmark, and the headliner, Coke Bust had not played. Yes, Coke Bust are from DC, but it was their American record release. Chris' (the drummer's) mom had come to the show. She told me that she'd seen Chris' other band, Magrudergrind, but she'd never seen Coke Bust play.

Coke Bust yielded to Hjertestop, who played an absolutely amazing, tight set. I saw Hjertestop play last year (?) at WMUC with Government Warning and Sick Fix. Hjertestop lacked the flare and confidence of Government Warning. At the 2010 show, Hjertestop attained a better balance between the volume of the vocals and the instruments. Their songs channeled passion and they played with spirit. So worthwhile. I'm glad that at least Hjertestop played their amazing set before the clock stopped on the show.

Chris gave a brief speech before Hjertestop played, explaining how people need to respect show spaces more. He emphasized that underage drinking shuts shows down. He advised that it isn't about being straight-edge, but is about a duty to the community. Otherwise, bands won't have a place to play music. He told the crowd that he knows it's only a handful of people causing problems. The same people repeatedly. He complained that if those people insist on drinking, at the very least they could avoid swinging a beer bottle around in front of the venue with the subtlety of a runway flag drawing in the police. Even if the flamboyant drinkers are the minority, they can end shows for everyone. I heard Chris' mom telling Chris as I left La Casa that she was sad the one band had to play so long and that she didn't get to see Coke Bust play. Coke Bust, of course, will play again...

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