LIVE REVIEW: Off! + Double Negative + Negative Approach at State Theatre 09.25.12
All photos by Sean Orr ©
It was something like last year when I met him across the street at Daddy Kool – he was sitting behind a desk topped with markers and bottled water for a pre show in-store. Of all ages, they were coming up and passing him records, ticket stubs, posters – they’d be handed back with signatures and then would come the photos. I’d be summoned to aim my camera and capture the moment: an elated fan with their arms around their aging and undying hero, Keith Morris, their face breaking into a smile as his remained still and weathered, guarded by beady glasses and dangling dreads between the fist bumps and strained expressions. The crowd would die down and he would be found sifting through records – we crossed paths somewhere around the “S” section. We spoke on whatever vinyl he had in his hand, briefly – I don’t remember his words, but I recall there being five or six of them, then a long, long stare. I like to think of Morris like this – a withdrawn hero to both those who survived the stimulated wasteland of 80s hardcore and the kids who found Black Flag and Circle Jerks records as they came of age in the early 2000s.
When I walked up Central to State, Double Negative was coming on and booming from inside – Morris was by the door, talking to the security guard about his diabetes. Inside, he weaves through the crowd in a spectral motion, almost unseen amongst the eyes. But then it’s nearing eleven, Negative Approach is long gone, and Dimitri Coats is breaking into a track – the chords cut through like razor wire, shrouded in distortion and fuzz. The bass of Steven McDonald drives with a relentless, full thump over the sound of Rubalcaba’s drumkit being beaten to death – it’s a sound so omnipresent one might forget it’s there. It’s dirty – the songwriting is too the point, zero filler, all flame. The songs melt into one another and you could swear you’ve heard every riff before – and you have, years ago and then some. Over everything, a shrieking, pained Morris – all the stoicism vanishes in a baptism of sweat and, suddenly, his eyes are stretched from mouth to forehead, animated and bulging as words no one is hearing dislodge his throat in the process of being howled.
Then the music cuts outs, and there’s a pause over guitar feedback and light tom hits – Morris clenches the microphone and stares at the ground. He starts to say something about voting – there’s already yelling from the crowd and rhythmic chants of “tell ‘em, Keith” and “fuck voting/fuck you/fuck people.” He says to vote – to vote or you have no right to complain. And people are looking back, asking why. He says something like, “because voting is a right, sir.” There he was – stoic and nearly invisible outside of the right circles and away from the stage. But who was really listening? It’s all lost in a blur – the chords come back, slicing the open air, cutting through the silence, cutting through the crowd.
Have a look at Sean Orr’s photos from the show below.