Live Review: Corrosion of Conformity at the Hawthorne TheaterPosted by Aaron Sharpsteen
As children we are told not to judge books by their covers. If there is an analogous proverb for judging bands, it would probably be “Don’t judge a band by their fans.” Not that this would be possible for Corrosion of Conformity. During their live set on Tuesday at the Hawthorne, a quick scan of the audience revealed a crowd as diverse as the band’s sound itself. Shirtless, muscled, tattooed bros, punk kids complete with curved up brims, fans that had obviously been fans of CoC since the 80′s and even an older gentleman that honestly reminded me of George Castanza, if he were ever to go to a rock show. This diversity is probably to be expected after 30 years of existence. They started out energetic with some thrashier material that got a pit going and the crowd excited. Then, they offered up some slower rockers. Whenever it seemed that the slower material might have been having a sedative effect on the audience, they were always ready to pull out some more songs from their punk days and get the energy flowing again. The art of preparing a set-list was certainly not lost on these guys, and once again, after 30 years of doing it, the degree in which they held the crowd’s energy in their hands is to be expected as well. Perhaps the only thing that could have made things more interesting is if the skeptical and bespectacled hipsters, who most likely showed up for one of the opening bands (including yours truly, guilty as charged) had joined the fray.
Torche seem to be on a mission to prove that metal isn’t all scowling and howling, that somehow happiness can find its way into even the deepest chasms of sound. Even when playing songs with ridiculously sludgy and doomy guitar, vocalist/guitarist Steve Brooks always seemed to have a smile on his face and some pep in his step. In between releasing Meanderthal and Harmonicraft (they really like those portmanteaus), Torche lost a guitarist but seem to have found a replacement who made sure their signature pummeling sound was as full as it always is on their records. Set highlights included “Healer” and “In Pieces.”
There’s just something impressive about two-piece bands that can rock as hard as bands with more members. San Francisco’s Black Cobra are definitely in that category, and it showed while they pummeled the crowd into submission with chugging riffs and non-stop drum blasts. Seriously, drummer Rafael Martinez is a freak of nature. I’m not sure he took a break from his constant battering during the entire set. Jason Landrian also somehow always manages to fill the space that one would assume comes with not playing with at least a bass player. There was no point during there set where a bass seemed necessary, however, and that is surely the mark of a two-piece that knows exactly what they are doing. Plus, they played an oldie but goodie (and my personal favorite), “Chronosphere.”
Hailing from Salt Lake City, Gaza brought their own unique style of progressive crustcore. You really can’t argue with a band that is on the fringes of hardcore with lyrics like “Dumber than a bag of Hatebreed fans.” After a couple songs the vocalist got down and decided that he was going to perform the rest of the songs on the floor with the audience to give the set a more authentic feel, and so much the better. There’s nothing quite like a very tall, skinny man screaming in your face to start off a good night.