Review: OFF!, Negative Approach bring a night of hardcore punk to the State Theatre in St. Petersburg
If punk ever evolved beyond the 1980s, you could scarcely tell from State Theatre’s show Tuesday night.
There were two supergroups composed of punk musicians from decades past, still-standing hardcore heroes Negative Approach and OFF!, featuring one of the all-exalted elder statesmen of punk, Keith Morris.
Morris, now 57, doesn’t look much different from his days touring with Black Flag and Circle Jerks. His frayed and ripped-open jeans are still present, as are his dreadlocks —albeit slightly betraying his age in graying and balding spots. Yet showing little signs of age is his howl, which is near-indistinguishable from that on Nervous Breakdown or Wild in the Streets.
Following a rather un-punk and unpunctual two-hour start, the three bands blasted through their sets in not much more time than that. The first group to take the stage was Raleigh’s Double Negative, featuring former members of Scared Straight, Subculture and Polvo. Their ’80s punk-throwback sound helped define the night’s noise, with singer Kevin Collins’ vintage hardcore howls.
Speaking of double negative, the next band to take the stage was Detroit ’80s punk pioneers Negative Approach. Singer John Brannon, with his wavy, thinning black hair, barely talked beyond a brief aside about visiting the Salvador Dali Museum. Instead, he plowed through their discography with a guttural growl and thousand-yard stare.
Finally, there was OFF!, which also includes Redd Kross bassist Steven Shane McDonald and Burning Brides frontman Dimitri Coats. Their appearance raised the question: How does a band whose combined output over two albums totals about 30 minutes play a headlining set?
The answer: by playing nearly every song on those two albums. They blazed through most of their self-titled full-length’s one-minute blasts, like Wiped Out, Cracked and I Got News for You, while Morris wildly gestured during songs and McDonald’s impressively long hair swayed to his bass rhythms. They also played much of their debut First Four EPs, introducing Hermosa Beach by listing off the area’s most notable bands and Jeffrey Lee Pierce by talking about the late Gun Club singer.
Yet mostly, the band left little time for banter in between each blistering assault. The notoriously avid ranter Morris mostly relegated his comments to imploring the crowd to vote in November — which was met with mixed reactions. While some cheered at Morris’ profanity-laden tirade that only those that voted could complain, others shouted “The electoral college is a scam!” and “Why do only they only they get to complain?”
Overall, the show was a quick shot of ’80s-style punk into the St. Pete area. Once it got to a start, it had little time for chatter — and even less for nonsense.
-- Jimmy Geurts, tbt*