by Kyle Schmitt
Jumping over a firehose that extended halfway down S St. NW, I got in line outside the Black Cat on Thursday night and offered my extra ticket to the person right behind me. He didn’t already have one, which was good, and then he started looking familiar. Glasses, paperback novel, small notebook …
“Ehh … David?”
My new friend in line is my current editor! This happy coincidence gave me someone to talk to next to the sound booth as the Loud Boyz kicked off the show. These DC-based punk rockers were on the money with their no-frills opening set. They call their best song “Loud Boyz Anthem” and that’s a straightforward, self-aware decision. The Loud Boyz brought a solid, unrelenting attack to the Black Cat stage, and they’re playing H Street Fest in two weeks if that sounds enticing and you missed them here.
The Buzzcocks began their set with the same three songs they opened with (“Boredom”, “Fast Cars”, and “I Don’t Mind”) when I saw them twice in Chicago about a decade ago. While these songs are punk classics, the apparently immutable setlist started the evening in a rote manner. The group eventually caught fire with intense, extended endings on “Sick City Sometimes”, the standout track off their 2003 self-titled album, and a nasty “Nothing Left”. Pete Shelley’s voice retained a clear-eyed earnestness on the pop gem “You Say You Don’t Love Me” and the newly released “Keep On Believing”. This tune and “Chasing Rainbows”, which sounds like a Joey Ramone song enhanced by a wiry, ascending Shelley guitar line, prove that the Buzzcocks’ songwriting chops remain potent as always.
In contrast to his more reserved, gray-bearded bandmate, Steve Diggle unleashed his inner 18-year-old guitar hero throughout the set, playing to the crowd and bumping fists with the punters. His enthusiasm clearly inspired the audience, which he implored to “Blow the fuckin’ roof off!” and “Keep rock ’n’ roll alive!” Diggle walked the stage hoisting a microphone over the crowd during a singalong version of “Harmony in My Head”, and seemed to invigorate Shelley as the band rolled through “Noise Annoys” and “Oh Shit!” during the set’s latter half. Crediting rocks’s standard bearers at night’s end, Diggle said this music was “about Chuck Berry, the fuckin’ Ramones”, and despite his accent, I’m 90% sure he threw in the Buzzcocks at the end of that listing. After their set, it’s hard to disagree that his own band belongs in that rarified company.