Text and photos: Bobby Cochran
There are so few bands that, after a 15+ year hiatus, can still tap into all that made them groundbreaking and distinctive in their heyday. Refused is one of those bands, and it was a treat to see them rise again in all their glory.
Opening the show was San Francisco’s Wax Idols, who brought a 80’s goth sensibility to their set. Though their sound is totally contemporary, there were definitely shades of mid-80’s Siouxie and Joy Division in there. Frontwoman Hether Forutune explained to the crowd that she punched a security guard at the 2012 Refused show at the Warfield, then bonded with singer Denis Lyxzén over the fracas after the show. They continued a friendship, and he invited her band to open up for them this time around.
Next were Vancouver’s White Lung, a band I’d heard about but never listened to or seen before. With hardly a breath between songs, they barreled through a 40 minute barrage of early 80’s LA punk-style joyful noise. I’ll definitely be seeing them when they come around next time.
I have kicked myself numerous times for having missed Refused on their 2012 reunion tour, and once I heard they were coming back around I knew I wouldn’t allow myself to miss out again. From the opening notes of “Elektra” to the finale of “Worms of the Senses/Faculties of the Skull”, Refused did not let up for one minute, which is exactly what we’ve come to expect of them. Even though I was there as a photographer, there were numerous times where I had to just put the camera down and rock the fuck out, screaming along with some of my favorite songs. The crowd was nuts, the band pummeled through song after song, and the energy in the room rose to a fever pitch with the encore’s one-two punch of “New Noise” and “Worms…” It makes me so fucking happy to see this band reunite, not as a shadow of their former selves, but as a force of nature that cannot be tempered by time.