AntiSeen Live and Obstinate (III)
AntiSeen had just played a set of weekend shows in Hickory, NC and Spartanburg, SC. I had made out it out to both shows and had a great time hearing new bands and watching AntiSeen play live. Fast forward a week later, it was Saturday, April 22nd, 2017: Record Store Day.
I meet up with Mad Brother Ward in Charlotte just after finishing my shift at work. We sojourn over to our local record store to check out this year’s Record Store Day vinyl and to prepare for the show AntiSeen will be playing here this evening. Jimmy ‘Repo’ of Repo Records is doing business slinging vinyl at a breakneck pace and the store is packed. Nonetheless, I manage to wade through the cacophony of voices and waves of bodies to find some pretty cool merch. First and foremost amongst which is a pretty killer re-release of ‘Psychotic Reactions’ by legendary 60s garage rock group ‘The Count Five.’ Score! After picking up some re-issue Link Wray and Music Machine, plus a Robert
Johnson cd boxset, I scope out the room and found that my friend and bandmate Owen Sykes had arrived. We shoot the bull, look over some more merch, and catch up with our friend Alex Stiff, frontman of The Fill Ins.
The show is set to start at 5 pm. So at ten till, we stand watching the band do a quick line-check before disappearing into the back room, where I can only surmise they are mentally preparing for the show. The store is even more packed than it was just half an hour ago and it seems subtly quieter. As the minutes tick down, anticipation from fans and a slight impatience from first-timers compound into a palpable atmosphere of uncertainty. I have never consciously ‘read’ a room before, but I find myself doing so now and intuitively understanding crowd psychology on some level.
AntiSeen enter the room and begin to launch into their set full-force. Thousands of teeny-bopper power punk bands claim lineage to The Ramones. But this intensity, this no-nonsense approach during the first act of the set demonstrates it, lives and breathes and revels in it. The past two nights contained only one major hiccup musically, a sonic false start on the same track both nights. Tonight, this issue is remedied and the songs are all played perfectly as far as I can tell. All the same, the crowd is understandably less energetic than if the show were in a large, open space, but many audience members (me included) belt out the lyrics track after track and have one hell of a time. Although its a hot day, AntiSeen’s energy never wavers. The Gooch goes full ambidextrous octopus on his drum kit, while Barry Hannibal lays down steady, driving grooves, while Mad Brother’s aim rings true, launching a surging sonic assault. All this, buttressed by the deep-fried soul-punk groove intermittedly escaping the indomitable Jeff Clayton’s vox.
At the end of the set, a break occurs in my thought. No one is yelling loud enough or directing chanting well enough to warrant an encore. The crowd diffuses quickly and waits to buy some AntiSeen vinyl. People stand around talking about how great of a show it was, or how great the band was, or how they wanted to hear a particular song. They just stand there and let possible experiences pass them by. And I stand there and do the same damn thing. Spiritually hangdog and disheveled, something clicks and a new vista opens itself to me, a thing to which the ramifications of will not become fully manifest till weeks later.
AntiSeen is releasing a new vinyl today: The Complete Drastic Sessions. The release of these early versions of AntiSeen’s first EP stands as an important event for Charlotte music as Bill Cates, the original bassist of AntiSeen is present. This day marks the first time Cates and Clayton have seen each other in over 30 years and the album’s signed by the two of them will definitely become highly sought after collector’s items.
Before making my departure I catch up with one of AntiSeen’s biggest fans, Matthew Vaine, as well as Eddie Ford of ‘The Self-Made Monsters,’ who proceeds to school me on early garage rock and punk bands I should check out asap. I find myself writing a decently long list of band names like ‘The Action Swingers’ and “The Cosmic Psychos’ whose depths I am currently in the process of plunging. Barry Hannibal, Mad Brother, Eddie, Owen, and I head out the The Tipsy Burro, put on some great music on their free jukebox, get some grub, and head our separate ways.
I find myself grasping for words when writing about an AntiSeen set. I have seen too few good rock and roll sets in my as yet relatively short life. This is due, in large part, to the low levels of popularity r’n’r enjoys these days. There were times in the 50s with the black fathers of rock and roll, the late 50s and early 60s with their popularizers and later garage rock, early punk and glam in the 70s, and arguably a revival of rock for a very short period in the late 90s and early 2000s, and during these times the music was vital. But only because it was immediate, true, and above all else, fun.
Now, I and a small group of disaffected, alienated, and generally pissed off youth are taking The Boron Heist multimedia. There is a time for all things commercially. This a time to force the hand: https://www.facebook.com/TheBoronHeist/
(For information on AntiSeen’s upcoming LP ‘Obstinate’ or for upcoming shows near you check out AntiSeen here: https://www.facebook.com/ANTiSEEN-82559392576/ )