Corrupted (from MRR #308)

I’d say it happens once or twice a year. A show that reaffirms or re-inspires why punk is important and relevant, one that fills you up, carries you through the shit we call life. One you can really say makes it all worth it. Some of these moments get added to the annals of punk history, repeated and made legend. Some are only remembered tenderly by those few who were there. Some others are made into memorable moments in post production, given a glossy sparkly sheen by time, and remembered more by those who were not there, than those who were.

In search of the past

The night before, I worked a smaller show, one that deserved a bigger crowd, but it was a cold blustery night, and wintery rains will keep punks home with hot cider here in California. (To those accustomed to trudging through snow banks to get to the show, I know you think California is perpetually temperate and that we are just crybabies, but it isn’t so! It gets cold and miserable here, I swear, and not a single person I know has a decent rain jacket. But I do wish we had more of your fortitude sometimes.)

I was listening to the dark hypnotic post-punk/death rock of Swann Danger, wondering why they aren’t a cult sensation yet, when a reporter from the Daily Californian came to ask a few questions for his article about the 20th anniversary of Green Day’s first show at Gilman. I should have given a fake name, told half-truths, or refused to comment… but I never think of these things in the moment, and I can slip into an overly helpful mood while working.
He asked about my feelings about Green Day, and was clearly disappointed that I had none. I told him I was six at the time of their first show at Gilman, and didn’t know anyone that was there for it. He asked angled question after question, until he finally just asked what he’d hoped I’d say all along.
“Don’t you think they sold out?” he said with his pen poised to write in his little top bound notebook, like a kid playing reporter.
“I wasn’t here when it happened. I wasn’t even punk yet.“
“But you can still have an opinion about it…”
I’m not one to turn down having an opinion, so I told him, “You have to have stood for something to begin with to sell out. And maybe I could blame them for spawning countless horrible pop-punk bands or for mainstreamizing punk… but they weren’t alone. I hope you understand they just aren’t on my radar at all.”
“But don’t people talk about them here?” he said slowly putting his notepad down, tucking his pen in his shirt pocket.
“Only tourists and reporters.”

He shook my hand and left, saying he’d be back to try and find someone with an opinion or more insight. I was angry, mostly at myself for bothering to talk to him. Then at him, and every other reporter who shows up to get a good line to put in their article about the mega-band, trying to craft a narrative where there is none; either trying to paint the club as a bitter ex or a proud parent. It never occurs to them that we are too busy running a club to be constantly contemplating the past, and that some of us have never known a scene that included a punk Green Day. To us, it never happened.

I stayed a little mad at myself for talking to a reporter, knowing he could probably find a fraction of one of my sentences to use the way he wanted. I went home, went to sleep, and dreamt about the apocalypse.

Try not to blink, or sleep

It can be any combination of things that make a show amazing, but there is something extra, something like magic that can push it over into the realm of perfect. Everyone you want to see is there, people you haven’t seen for years came out or drove in for it, there is an air of excitement, the bands are not only playing well, but playing as if they are playing for posterity, playing how they want to be remembered. (Add to that the hundreds of vegan tamales, and something truly magic happens.)

After an amazing set by Stormcrow, and a pretty interlude by Amber Asylum, Asunder took the stage in total darkness. I don’t mean it was very dark, I mean the stage was a pitch black void, and they played so well, so tight, that it seemed impossible (without some sort of night vision or extrasensory abilities). All three bands played short sets (for them) of about half an hour or so, so that Corrupted could blow everybody’s minds and play for two hours.
Let me guess, you’re thinking, “Two fucking hours???” You’re right, I exaggerate. They actually played for only an hour and fifty-four minutes. An hour and fifty-four minutes of the heaviest, slowest, most epic drone/doom/sludge; shit that can be a mindfuck even when you aren’t beyond tired and hopped up on too much coffee.

I’ve been waiting a long time to see Corrupted. After hearing their split with Phobia, I had a friend tape me a copy of their Llenandose de Gusanos record. I was nineteen, and walked through the forests of Santa Cruz listening to that record, eating too-strong weed food, and in the process scaring the shit out myself. For a few hours I forgot I had a walkman on and just figured this must be the sound a forest at sunset makes. I was out of my head, but it was the first time I actually enjoyed living in that weird burnout, forested beach town. To see them now, sober, but older, was much the same as then, only not scary, just transformative.
To see a band carry out an epic vision, see a show transcend into event, and to know that what is happening is special the moment it happens (not years later while reminiscing), is really all that you can ask. Particularly for a band that you’ve been waiting to see, hoping you would get the chance to see.

You can talk all you want about what was. About what must have been the perfect moments in our shared punk history, you can even write trite articles in local newspapers, but don’t be so hung up on the past that you miss the moments that are now, with current bands and current faces. Don’t miss your chance to say “I was there”.

Thank you to Jay for all his hard work putting the Corrupted show together, Karen for all the glorious food, Pat for keeping shit secure, and to all of the other Gilman staff/volunteers that make a show like this possible. Thank you to Corrupted, Asunder, Stormcrow, Amber Asylum and Swann Danger for providing the soundtrack to a weekend I won’t forget.

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