A little over a month ago, the legendary underground band ‘AntiSeen’ was set to play a couple weekend shows in my proximity. Not getting the chance to see them that often, I made plans to attend both shows with my friend Owen.
Now, here’s a little disclaimer: My dad has know these guys for a long time. Almost 30 years I think. I’ve been to shows from time to time throughout my life. And my dad currently plays guitar for the band. AntiSeen has always been a household name for me, quite literally. I’m biased, so be it.
Time: Friday April 7th. Place: Spartanburg, South Carolina. Ground Zero Club.
Owen and I (heretofore ‘we’) plan on heading to Charlotte right after work to pick up my dad, Mad Brother Ward, who is carpooling with us to the show from there. However, plans change. And usually they change for the worse, but this time is a different story. Jeff Clayton (vocals) and Todd Goss (merch) will be riding up separately from the rest of the band so the band van had extra room. We are invited to go along for the ride and eagerly agree.
The van is Barry Hannibal’s (bass) and is spacious enough to hold 7 comfortably with gear (and who knows how many uncomfortably!). Owen, Barry, Mad Brother, The Gooch (drums), Brandon (roadie and occasional body-guard), and I load into the van and head on toward Spartanburg.
Traffic was bad, fast food was okay, extra sleep was awesome, and roughly 3 hours later we pull up to the club and unload the gear. Ground Zero Club is a medium-sized venue somewhere between The Milestone and the now-defunct Tremont Music Hall (both legendary Charlotte venues I always intuitively use as my points of reference). Four bands are booked for tonight, but Dirtbag Love Affair had to drop the date last minute. This is unfortunate as I like the band a lot more than most local groups that try to pass themselves off as rock and roll. The guitarist has a glam-Johnny Thunders look and guitar style and the band is tight. Besides, they were booked for both tonight and tomorrow’s shows. On the bright side, this means a shorter show and an earlier eta getting home.
While waiting for the show to start, I study AntiSeen’s merch booth and eye a T-Shirt with my name on it. I ask how much one costs, and Jeff Clayton gifts me one as well as a copy of ‘Destructo Maximus’ (https://www.amazon.com/Antiseen-Destructo-Maximus/dp/0967662222), AntiSeen’s restrospective tome of articles, reviews, write-ups, photographs, and lyrics (Seriously, get yourself a copy if you haven’t already). Elated, I automatically turn to the first page and begin reading its contents until the first band soundchecks, at which point I drop it off in the van for safekeeping.
The opener is a group called The Municipators. They are, I will find, the tightest group to play either night this weekend. But I’m a little dismayed with the pop-punk they’re producing because, well, its pop punk (a horrendous genre that takes the worst of both forms and tends to infuse unhealthy doses of pub rock chanting and ‘pseudo-political bullshit’). All the same, their songs aren’t about politics and they close the set with a blistering (if not altogether note-for-note) rendition of Molly Hatchet’s “Flirtin’ with Disaster” that knocks me out of my stupor. Its a good, solid set.
The second band, The Casket Creatures, is something of a genre band as well. This time, horror punk. Horror punk is difficult to get right in the same way that most genres with hooks and choruses are, because very few people have a great pop sensibility. But where other genres may have multiple great pop songwriters, in horror punk, it seems like only The Misfits do. The Casket Creatures do not have this ability. But they have camp and a healthy following, so more power to them.
Finally, AntiSeen soundchecks and takes the stage. Some of the members of the opening bands are really into the set as evinced by some moshing and singing along. The turnout wasn’t as high as it could have been, but those that are here generally leave the bar and come watch the band play. AntiSeen is raw and aggressive, and tonight they are running on all gears. The Boys From Brutalsville encore a few songs including a new track off their upcoming LP ‘Obstinate’ and deliver the buzz-saw, desctructo goods in the way only a COS (Confederacy of Scum) band could.
Jeff Clayton makes some sales at the merch table, and Brandon and we (still following?) load out the gear. The ride back is long, but riding in the van allows me time to get some extra much-needed sleep. We ride into Charlotte, drive with Mad Brother Ward from Barry’s place to Gooch’s where we drop him off for the night. We then drive back to MBW’s apartment, get into Owen’s car and ride back into Wingate, North Carolina sometime around 2 or 3 am (Confusing right?). In three short hours, I wake up and head to work for my 8-hour shift. As I rub the sleep from my eyes and shake off my grogginess with a hot shower, I realize that we’ll be going out again tonight to see the boys play Hickory. I comprehend how drained I am and imagine how much worse I will be the following day. And I don’t mull over going, not for a second.
(To be continued: Here)