ONE Violent Reaction. Munoz Gym. Bakersfield, CA. April 2014.
Munoz Gym was a place that only existed in my dreams of sketchy 240p videos on youtube before getting to shoot this photo. After seeing footage of bands from HATRED SURGE to THE SHITTY LIMITS, via. CRAZY SPIRIT and MILK MUSIC all playing actually in the ring, when VIOLENT REACTION and our band (THE FLEX) were booked to play there as part of our USA tour in April 2014 I was absolutely buzzing to experience it first hand. To set the scene, you pull up out of a small, somewhat dilapidated neighbourhood onto a gravel driveway and you are faced with nothing more than a shack. Inside are empty window frames, a couple of haggard punch bags, one entrance/exit through the back, no toilet (aside from the tree outside), no ‘merch’ area (aside from a bench we set up under the tree outside) and the boxing ring. By the time we played there was maybe 100 people packed into this wooden hut going wild for both our bands. Of the 100, 20 or so were crammed into the ring with the band, moshing hard from side to side, bouncing off the ropes, I think at one point there was even a stage dive off a turnbuckle? Who knows, it was a total blur, hopefully worthy of the legendary footage I’d seen of the shows there beforehand. Unfortunately, the gym had to close earlier this year but not before the almighty INFEST got to play a benefit show for the space that ultimately turned out to be one of the venue’s final shows.
TWO Stand Off. The Boiler Room. Boston, MA. April 2015.
For those unfamiliar with Boston’s Boiler Room (a far cry from boilerroom.tv) the clue is in it’s name. Legend has it that it was actually the original boiler house for a rug factory on Rugg Road; an uninhabitable wasteland of dumped toxins and the rotten shells of industry. But in a new lease of life it was taken over by a small but super dedicated collective of punks and regularly hosts shows, often well into the early hours. This particular show was nuts for STAND OFF from Washington, DC. and I think one of the first crowning moments for the NWODCHC (New Wave of DC Hardcore). Bodies everywhere packed into a space not much bigger than my living room covered in dust, mould and damp. Hardcore for the hard core.
THREE Harris. Austin, TX. April 2015.
This April we were lucky enough to play with GLUE at the Mohawk in Austin, TX for the 2nd year in a row and this year frontman, Harris, went totally all out during their set. About 10 minutes in he picked up and smashed a glass bottle over his head, yelped, and dropped heavily to the floor. Not even a minute later his white shirt is glowing red with blood and an inch-wide gash above his eye is visible even from the back of the room. Song by song went by, blood covered half of his face and by the end of the set covered half of the stage too. I have another photo taken at one point during the set where Harris looks through the blood, past the microphone and directly down the lens of my camera with this crazed look of desperation in his eyes. Directly after the set I chased him up the stairs of the venue, flashing my camera over him as much as I could (sorry mate) and shot this portrait before helping peel off his new mask of clotted and congealed blood.
FOUR Obstruct. The Parish Hall, Brighton. September 2014.
One of the most perfect and powerful things about DIY hardcore punk is how it can thrive in places you’d never expect. This was taken in a packed church hall in Brighton city centre as part of a day long festival showcasing the cream of the UK hardcore scene (and Negative Approach) hosted by CTW Records. This is how a ‘pit’ should look. The kinetic energy and visible rhythm of a room full of fully charged, reckless punks both young and old from all over the continent. Pounding from side to side to a simple, solid, hypnotic, 1-2-1-2 beat.
FIVE Pissed Jeans. The Brudenell Social Club, Leeds. July 4th 2013.
PISSED JEANS (PA) in one of my favourite venues in the world on American Independence Day 2013. At this point during the set while the rest of the band were tuning up, frontman Matt Korvette took the stars and stripes that was draped upside down over the front of the stage and through an impromptu and teary eyed rendition of something that I think resembled the Pledge of Allegiance cast it over his half exposed body before tearing it off and stamping it into the stage as the next song began.
SIX Mary Jane. Leeds. July 2015.
Continuing what’s becoming a running theme of punk singers with head injuries here’s a shot of Mary Jane from VEXX immediately after cutting their set a little short at the Wharf Chambers in Leeds. Everything was going as planned, the band are raging, the audience are pumped, then Mary Jane runs from the relative safety of the stage and into the mob only to emerge no more than ten seconds later covered in blood. After swiftly thanking the crowd and wrapping an already bloody shirt around her head she was rushed outside with an entourage of concerned onlookers one of whom, luckily, was an off duty nurse who dutifully examined the wound under the glare of an iPhone flashlight.
SEVEN Warsaw, Poland. August 2015.
This was taken the morning after OBSTRUCT played with a host of other bands from all over the continent and as far away as Chile at a squatted military hospital in central Warsaw. The show was a party celebrating I think the 10th anniversary of the squat’s opening and was especially busy. Everyone was animated, drinking Poland’s best and cheapest beer all night, the disco after the show was pumping out only the premium psytrance bangers, and it wasn’t long before things got weird. As the sun came up around 5 or 6am after staying up all night chatting to people from literally all over the world, I noticed a few of the locals decide on taking a dip in this rancid paddling pool in the garden of the venue. People shed their clothes and got completely naked, there were strange naked mannequins everywhere, and instinctively I started taking photos of this mental situation I found myself in. Granted it was somewhat insensitive of me shooting photos of these naked people I barely knew, but I’d been up drinking with them all night so at that point through my hazy viewfinder I thought nothing of it. All until this one nutter grabbed my camera with one hand and my face with the other and tried to push me down a flight of stairs. Luckily the situation was quickly resolved after he was pushed in the pool by a kind resident of the venue and I was declared as ‘English and OK’. After that I hastily took myself to bed and woke up to this beautiful sight from the balcony of our sleeping quarters.