Superpower, Milo's Syndicate, Middle East Upstairs, July 16, 2007
You’ve gotta hand it to the Middle East Upstairs for understanding a little thing called volume. I don’t mean the spatial quantities of its physical layout (I failed physics), but rather the sheer magnitude of LOUD the venue is consistently able to reach. Using “loudness” in that sentence, though more grammatically proper, seems to weaken the point here; I say “Wow, that’s loud” as if I’m pointing out an acquaintance (I aced English). But if I’m the Marty McFly of small-fry live music reviewers, then the MidEast-Up is Michael Bay, stopping at nothing to ensure that by the end of the night, you, the humble seeker of entertainment, have been physically beaten by a barrage of sound, your ears bleeding, your glasses shattered, your tonsils somehow swallowed and floating in your gut.
All of which is entirely relevant because it pretty much ensured the success of Monday night’s show. It may be summer, but the scene didn’t have a lot in its favor going in, press-wise. It was a Monday night, it was a local-headliner, it was hardcore, and Mr. Butch had just passed away. Marks of nightlife death? Unless we’re quoting Slayer lyrics, bullshit. The small crowd, fitting nicely into that perfectly sized space as most crowds do, was there for no other reason than to make their Monday night a little less quiet, their Tuesday morning a little more deaf, to throw back tallboys, the aluminum vibrating in their hands, and to scream along with angry dudes who were there to do the same. Loud is good. Loud is community.
Superpower certainly proved this beyond a whimper of a doubt last night. The Allston-based band has been at it since 2004, but vocalist Dave Tree famously honed his chops in the early-90s hardcore scene with the aptly named Tree. Superpower continues to honor that band’s legacy by keeping things fast, pissed, and tough, with no pretense, as much swagger as beatdown. They don’t make ’em like they used to, but Superpower ripped their way through a set that pleased fans both old and new: unforgiving, metal-tinged hardcore-punk, fast-when-it-wasn’t-slow kind of stuff. Very matter-of-fact, but not without invention. Guitarist Terry knew his way around the fretboard, slicing his strings with razor-wire precision. Tree spat out lyrics to songs like “I Believe in Nothing” and “Force Fed” with a Jello Biafra-level of spastic intensity. Loud? Yep. Sincere? You know it: nearly every song was prefaced with a shout-out to the “late, great Mr. Butch.” Tree even related a story about how the famed Kenmore Square staple once snuck him into the Rat in the ’80s by prying open the back door (“What do you mean you don’t carry ‘round a screwdriver?”). The crowd nodded, laughed, raised their drinks in memoriam before the next song took off.
: Live Reviews
, Michael Bay, Jello Biafra, Marty McFly