Obnox - This is a one-man punk band from Cleveland. Live, Lamont Thomas fleshes it out with a drummer and an electronics guy, allowing him to handle guitar duties and vocals. These guys nail a great punk rock sound right away with thick, chunky chords, straightforward power drumming, with the electonics subtly putting some thickening agents underneath. The vocals are good in a detached Howard Devoto sort of manner and this is the type of creative punk rock we don't get enough of these days. But then, the guitar goes away and Thomas starts rapping, although the hip hop vibe created behind him is quite powerful and as the songs go on, starts merging punk and hip hop in a unique conglomerate, which makes perfect sense. These two genres don't sound terribly alike, but their priniciples of starting from nothing to scream out your feelings and environment with the role of the underdog have always been there for each. And although Thomas switched styles through the rest of the long set, the songs kept coming together more and more until some unique creature was born. This magical set is one of those that may inspire others to try to do this sort of thing, but most likely will stand alone as a profound vision reminding people like me who really have 'heard it all', that there still is undiscovered brilliant originality out there.
Death - Speaking of visions... here is the band whose one single in 1976 sank with a trace only known among collectors. But of course, the rediscovery has been on for a few years now and even though founding member David Hackney passed away in 2000, his rhythm section brothers finally have Death as a going concern again with a new guitarist. I did not take a note during this show (rare for me) as it really was not about this set, more about paying tribute to a deserving band who belatedly are claiming their rightful spot as a link between the Detroit protopunk of the Stooges and MC5 to the 1970s and 1980s punk and hardcore scenes. What made no sense to the thick ears then, makes perfect sense now and not only did they have a near sell-out of excited rock fans tonight, but they also had the Smithsonian's (upcoming) African American Museum representative here who introduced them and worked with them earlier today, getting their story ready to be a part of the museum when it opens next year. So this was a mindblowing show on so many levels and the band were clearly having a great time. Oh, and they rocked the house down, especially with the incredible 'Politicians in my Eyes', a song for the ages. I could write so much more, but there's a book out now about them as well as the essential documentary, 'A Band Called Death'. And they tell us they love it here and want to come back. So until then, dig into their music and learn their story if you have not already.
Quote of the Night: Lamont Thomas was a hoot all night, but I was really thrilled that he was dropping names of people I wasn't sure he was connected to such as John Morton of the Electric Eels and Barry Henssler (and to answer his question, yes I've heard of these guys and even met them over the years, being a first generation Ohio punk rocker myself). Cleveland punk history still moves forward!
but his quote is about opening for Death (and the lost classic buzz created by the discovery and release of their studio work in a fortuitous attic search)... "Someone played Death and I didn't know what that was--I thought it was fake... but 'Politicians in my Eyes'? Shit!"