It’s been a weird month. Not Dead Yet fest, I saw a couple other shows, got a turntable upgraded and running… and there’s been a few new things released. Instead of doing something on the worthlessness of Cassette Store Day, or Hallowe’en themed (although the Equalizing Distort theme episode is great for that), I’ll do a little bit about things that happened this month.
Chronic Submission — Empty Heads Poison Darts LP
The demo from 1984 finally makes it’s debut on vinyl. People have always said that early Canadian hardcore has a sound, and I tend to hear it — but I can never tell if it’s something that I am hearing because the band is Canadian and from the era, or if it’s a suggestion that’s planted in my head and I then hear it. Either way, if you like DOA-Hardcore ’81, you’ll dig this hyper, faster, and frankly in my opinion, tighter release. This is the band’s second demo pressed to vinyl. The first demo had 25 songs, so that’ll give you some sense of where the band was at early on in their lifespan; with this one not skimping on the quantity either (18 songs).
Basically, the Canadian Circle Jerks, if they were something like 16 when they recorded Group Sex. That same snotty delivery, but firmly in the hardcore camp, with classic fundamental hardcore punk. Can’t miss release.
I also went to Not Dead Yet to see the release of the Tomorrow Is Too Late book release, a book about early Toronto hardcore. While I was on the peripheral edges of Toronto punk and hardcore in the late 80’s — pretty much I started going to Toronto in 1988 or so, and saw some shows at the Apocalypse Club in 1989, I missed a lot of the killer bands that existed just a few years earlier. The book was part nostalgia — as I remember some of the stuff that was going on that the book talks about, but hearing it second hand (or third hand) in Hamilton. I’m glad that not only bands, but zines, and some of the surrounding areas got the attention they deserved. Hamilton’s own Problem Children, who ended up all over the posters of Toronto, got a bit of coverage. The book is mostly great, but with some minor quibbles. I hate the layout — lots of black pages, empty space and small fonts make for a tough read. I’d be happy to buy a second version with a more cohesive, and traditional, layout. Other than that, you should take the time and effort to drink this one in, because it’s a great read on a city who’s role beyond 1978, The Viletones and The Diodes need to be explored more.
To coincide with the book release, many of the bands from the era, and many of the people of the era, got together at a show during Not Dead Yet Fest — it was great to see some faces that I hadn’t seen in probably 25 years — Anthony, who was a huge man when I was 14 and treated me to a handshake that shook my shoulder out of joint, was still the same essential person — shaking hands in the most loving and physical way.
Not Dead Yet have been instrumental in helping get older Toronto bands out of the basement (or retirement homes) they did it a decade ago with Youth Youth Youth — this time Creative Zero, Microedge, Chronic Submission, Sudden Impact and Negative Gain did the honors. I won’t belabour a retelling of the night, suffice to say all the bands, despite some of their significant rust, were great. Sure Negative Gain played a bit long, sure Sudden Impact were a touch slow, but it was pretty awesome. On a personal note, I had never seen Sudden Impact (always thinking they were too metal in my earlier, much more opinionated days) and was really pleased that those songs have aged really well, and my attitudes towards metal must’ve softened. Chronic Submission were great as well, and I’d be happy if they kept doing one-off shows every couple years. Oh, yeah, it was really awesome to be one of the youngest people in the show by far, and to have it all over at midnight.