Negative Approach weren't just the cornerstone of my earliest forays into hardcore, they were also the dividing line that kept me on the side of the good stuff like The Abused, SS Decontrol, Agnostic Front, Negative FX, Void, and The F.U.'s, and away from the sissified stuff that the likes of MRR and Flipside were usually championing. Why Laughing Hyenas weren't my thing I'm not sure, but I think it also kept me from checking out Easy Action for the longest time... that, and Easy Action's records have never been all that easy for me to find. It took last year's "She Ain't My Girlfriend" single on Shake It to bring me around, and so I was pretty pumped to see Easy Action at the "Touch and Go book release show" at Cafe Nine on Saturday-- far more pumped to see them than the faked-up Meatmen, who were also on the bill.
I'd already seen the "real" Meatmen (the Judas Priest-copping heavy metal one, at least) once before, at the Anthrax back in the '80s, with one or the other of either Lyle Preslar or Brian Baker in the line up, or possibly even both of them, I forget. Not to discredit Tesco Vee in any way, even though the prop-rock thing he's been pushing for the past 25 years kinda blows... although "War of The Superbikes" was sorta awesome. Now that the early Touch and Go's have been reprinted for the third time-- I seem to remember buying "best-of" reprints at least twice before, back in the '80s and '90s-- it's pretty telling that most of the book's reviews have been carefully sidestepping the most important point, which is that there were a lot more zine writers back then who had the guts to say right up front whether a band sucks or not. I'm glad that reading the likes of Tesco Vee, Gerard Cosloy, and Jimmy Johnson is what taught me how to write (even if it doesn't show very much), instead of the reviews-comparing-records-to-advancing-clouds and horses-jumping-over-fences crap, which is the way that everybody writes now. You should start using shorter fucking sentences, too.
Easy Action's set was delayed while the guitar player used a screwdriver and a 9-volt battery to jumpstart his wah-wah pedal, which I don't think he even used once the rest of the night. I spent the few minutes waiting by joking around with John Brannon off to the side, and he's actually one of the nicest guys you could ever talk to, despite his seriously-fucking-scary onstage demeanor. Easy Action were relentless once they got up and running, kicking things off with "I'm Waiting", which has a riff that could shoot holes in the floor. They didn't slow down a bit until about 4 songs into their set (John: "We'll play this next song when that girl over there shuts the hell up"), and then after a hellacious "Can't Kill You" and "She Ain't My Girlfriend", John growled "here's a good one for you guys" and they broke into a cover of the old 10CC chestnut, "I'm Not In Love". It's not often you see a band where all four guys are this kick-ass, especially the drummer, who was totally nuts, even as his kit was seemingly falling apart right out from under him.
I never got to see Negative Approach, but I used to have a soundboard tape of one of their last shows in '84 and to this day it's one of the most brutal-sounding things I've ever heard, with the guitar distored way out to here and Brannon's vocals amounting to almost nothing but an inhuman shriek. That tape definitely made a huge impression on me as far as the type of sounds, hardcore and otherwise, that I would seeking out for a very long time afterwards. (I've still got a tape of another NA live show from '84, but it's just not the same.) I waited around to buy some stuff after Easy Action's set on Saturday, and for me, watching John Brannon casually spreading out Negative Approach records onto a merch table (the re-issue of the first 7" plus a CD EP of the unreleased stuff that's coming out on Taang) was like being around when they were inventing the bible.
Tons of old-school people were at this show, too-- a couple of the guys from 76%, Shaun Sheridan from the Anthrax (maybe his brother, too), Bruce Wingate, John Coletti (Sex Bomb), Al Pist... I even saw Rich Stremme (Brutally Familiar, The Deacons) for the first time in about 20 years. The Meatmen played after Easy Action, but I only hung around for maybe four songs-- "Tooling For Anus" and "Dumping Ground" being a couple of them-- before I left. Tesco did throw out one good line, though: "We keep coming back every couple of years to prove to people that punk rock isn't that crap like The Riverboat Gamblers." Tesco's got the guy from "Man vs. Food" playing bass in the band now, I don't know how he managed to pull that one off.
"Friends of Rock & Roll"