Gut reaction: Hardcore punks pack the house

"The Intrinsic Virtues and Values of Death Metal," was a common topic of discussion between the ad hoc debate teams The Icarus Fallen (Me), and Mazor's Razors (my friend Brian) in the hallways of our high school. Brian with his long (dyed) black hair, black t shirt, and jeans– would always argue the pro-death metal position, while I– with my short-then-long-then-short-again hair and pop-rock affliction would, of course, argue the negative position.

I bring up our conversations because they give some support for my claim that, in spite of being regarded by their audience as punk acts, two-thirds of the bands at last Thursday's Tokyo Rose show had more in common with the former genre than with the latter.

You could argue that the two bands in question, For All Time and Riot Act, are actually hardcore punk groups, akin to Minor Threat and their ilk, rather than the comparatively pop-oriented Sex Pistols. But to me, the guttural vocals and frequent tempo changes of both young groups spoke more to my colon than do your typical pierced rockers.

Possibly this is why the audience seemed to love both acts. The Rose was packed– more than I think I've ever seen it, even for even big-name touring acts– with mohawks, chains, and the requisite mosh pit all making fine appearances. Hardcore, or whatever you want to call it (death metal), has never been quite my cup of tea, but I have to give the groups credit for drawing such a crowd of like minded devotees.

The other third of Thursday's bill was something quite different from the ear-splitting acts that sandwiched it– the first show of Damani Harrison (who, when he isn't playing music, is a Hook ad rep) and multi-instrumentalist Jon Dzermejko's hip-hop project, BEETNIX. This was the act I came out to see after getting a CD containing three tracks from the group's upcoming release, Homesick.

In all truthfulness, this is some of the best music I've heard come out of Charlottesville, and hip-hop is by no means my chosen genre. Damani's smooth smoker's voice laid down rhymes and melodies in the relaxed fashion locals who've seen his work with Man Mountain Jr., or some Chocolate Workshop performances, will be accustomed to.

Emcee Ra Da Rugged Man, who joined BEETNIX on stage that evening, was much more schizophrenic in his rhymes– he had an almost maniacal fervor, and the fact that he got more than half-naked on stage during the course of the set only added to the feeling.

BEETNIX's true coming out party is on October 5 at Starr Hill, where they will be joined on stage by Andy Rowland, John D'earth, Richelle Claiborn, DJ Chew-E, DJ Ducktape, DJ Mikemetic, and Ryan McClellan (Man Mountain Jr.) playing some of the parts they performed on the group's CD.

Yeah, Damani is a fellow Hook-er, but I swear I'm telling no lies– they are great. Don't believe me? Come to the show on the 5 and find out for yourself.