The ProblemAddicts/Kevin K Band/Silver Alert
Thursday, March 29th 2018
The Bends, St. Petersburg FL
DETERMINED OPENER: Leadfoot Promotions is here to give the Tampa Bay music scene a kick up the arse. Well, okay, there are punk gigs every two days so it appears on the surface at least to be quite healthy, and every time you don’t go to one of them your “Support the creative underground!” sensor flares up, sending pain down your leg and pangs of sellout guilt into your brain, suggesting a strong community might be bad for our personal wellbeing whether we schlep to the venues or not, but, well, is the quantity of events really a good barometer of strength, of the relationships we might be building as an alternative to an atomised society of selfish dick behaviour, and by god, where’s the headache medicine, and the beer? This began so forthright. Perhaps if kicks turn out not to be necessary, we can ask Leadfoot Paul to contribute foot massages to some of our more loyal, exhausted and seasoned punk patrons (he seems a nice enough guy).
His concern for the elders is evident from the offset here, with boisterous locals Silver Alert named after a not-at-all condescendingly titled public notification system for missing dementia sufferers. Certain members seem to relish the day they can legitimately cause such trouble. Bassist Ryan has a continuous father-son dynamic going with guitarist Chris, hinting at a desire for ageing in both, while their other guitar player Brad is mocked for having a mic that makes him sound “like the teacher from Charlie Brown,” i.e. completely indecipherable to the whippersnappers. The sheer loudness of their instruments leaves them all as incommunicado to us as Peanuts children, but that doesn’t mean their songs are childish. People Bubble is a reasoned warning against global overpopulation (a problem that the elderly are making more efforts to solve than any other age group), while another is a timely number about Condoleezza Rice, though whether it’s in relation to launching your own skin care products made from crude oil spoils and Iraqi blood is left unclear. Ryan should really be wearing a Fuck World Trade shirt in that case, instead of late Clinton administration entry Rock the 40 oz. Silver Alert’s final absurdly fast song is All My Friends Are Hipster Kids, dedicated to the clientele at The Bends, and it bears an uncanny resemblance to Oi To The World by goof-masters The Vandals. Was it ever hip to like them? You can find some of these on the band’s collection of golden oldies, White Toyota Solara.
I saw Kevin K Band here at what I will soon begin calling the Kevin K Bends just 3 months ago, but this time, perhaps because not drained by the holiday season, they’re an even more alert and confident solid block of rock than before. They make the kind of pre-hardcore punk that these days is barely considered distinguishable from rock ‘n’ roll, which, perversely, actually makes them stand out at many of these DIY gigs. Fun is what’s fun and that’s fine, but I feel a lot of bands starting out could do well to remember that there are speeds below Mach 1, that you can make something decent but different that still falls within the “nebulous big tent” of the genre (as I saw it described in a recent zine, Bleach Everything). On the other hand, Kevin is playing a particular style from his own youth, so maybe I should shut up. Sub-genre straddling visionaries Bad Religion are present on the drummer’s shirt, depicting a Trump and Putin reacharound session [see footnote for scheduled Russia commentary*]. Kevin K & co. perform Russian Roulette for good measure (maybe they could back it with their tune American Nightmare), and a true to form deafening interpretation of These Boots Are Made For Walkin’. They end as if they’re closing down an arena show, with a guitarist shredding crazily and flashing lights. The kickoff song for tonight was Justify, a cut from their new album; being careful with their MDC-style acronym-flipping, the band released Too Much Too Sun as Kevin K and the Krazy Kats in March.
Because I am a shallow fraud and apparently can’t write about a set without commenting on the artist’s threads, I’ll get it out of the way up front this time. Punk-O-Rama pirouetting to Pennywise is The ProblemAddicts’ stand in bassist, foreshadowing the revved up cover of Stand By Me that would materialise (I attempt to shout “Do it Fletcher!” at the accurate moment, but miss my chance). These incredibly thankful and friendly chaps from “Orlando-ish” Deltona do indeed face problems, such as finding out they share a name with a rap crew in Massachusetts who play with the likes of Ghostface Killah, though with the Florida act sharing a stage with Agent Orange a few weeks ago it’s hard to say who would successfully lay claim in a legal battle. Drummer Billy, fresh from cutting a hole through his finger at work the previous day, cuts thumpingly through the wall of string instruments, guiding my attention more than once, and I’m sure that’s not just the Coffee Blonde Ale in my veins making a mental connection with his Caffiends shirt (Orlando’s answer to Milo Aukerman). A kind enthusiast buys the band some beers, and amidst the tiny performance area filled with noise Paul gingerly uses his lead feet to deliver them, including all the way to the drum kit spot in the back. It’s within all these altruistic vibes that a closing rendition of True Believers isn’t overly worried about being “cool,” and you remember the DIY arena is indeed capable of making community out of nothing, even if only temporarily. The ProblemAddicts put out their EP Derailed (which sounds a lot like Pennywise when they’re doing good quality) in February, and you can hear it on Spotify.
* My disdain for the “blame Russia” narrative is high (recently vomming all over my review of Great Collapse’s Neither Washington Nor Moscow… Again!), and I am pretty sure Bad Religion used to be a band that were against war and actions that risked it. But in the moment I have myself a chuckle, because at least it’s an improvement over the BR shirt that it seems to be a take on, of two half-naked nuns making out. What the fuck is with Greg Graffin? First that whole having a wank on webcam fiasco, now this?