UNHINGED: For Pissed Jeans, “hardcore” meant slow, low, and loud.
On the rain-soaked lawn outside the Oxfam Café at Tufts, two geniuses are punching each other in the face.
“Why don’t you guys just jerk off?” a girl screams over at them. They stop.
“I hate hardcore,” sighs another girl with a swollen eye. “I was in there watching the show, and I punched myself in the face. By accident, of course.”
To be sure, this first of two shows in one day from Pissed Jeans is more hardcore an affair than their particular approach might warrant. The Allentown (Pennsylvania) band are a lot slower and sludgier than the New Lows, Rival Mob, and Waste Management, all of whom precede them. Yet they’re way more brutal, unhinged . . . maybe even more hardcore?
Standing atop the kick drum with his head pressed into the drop ceiling, Matt Korvette grinds the mic into his nips and gives the diminished crowd a slackjawed glare before hollering “I feel like a giraffe!” and dropping into the mess pouring from guitarist Bradley Fry’s amp. In what could have been a show of hardcore solidarity, the Jeans keep their songs short and neat (especially set opener, “Night Minutes” — a song about cellphone plans off their first seven-inch), but it doesn’t stop the small klatch of kids from swooning into one another as though aboard a capsizing boat.
Later, at the Middle East, the band load in as the ever-lovable Reports set up. After an offputting set from Gerty Farish, the Jeans (visibly worn, no pun, etc.) fling themselves into 40 uninterrupted minutes of howling feedback, stick-splitting drum freakouts, and Corvette’s vocals, which approximate a freshly tranq-darted David Yow.
Things remain relatively calm on the floor until the snarling guitar line of “I Don’t Need Smoke To Make Myself Disappear” emerges from the formless din on stage. Then the room of mild-mannered indie-rock types begins heaving in all directions, dropping beers, tossing waters, throwing hands up, and ecstatically revisiting a happier time when more bands opted for the slow, low, and loud.