Bring earplugs: Hardcore bands crank it up

Preston, Forensics, and Ultra Dolphins
at Tokyo Rose
November 14

 It was an eardrum ripping, scream-intensive, and all in all pretty fabulous evening last Friday at the Tokyo Rose. Billed as "Hardcore Night," Friday's show featured a number of local and out-of-town acts that have seemingly adopted the "faster is better" credo, and surprisingly, that was all right with me.

Although I'm not normally a huge fan of hardcore (music), the exceedingly well played and tight acts I heard gave me one of those slight buzzes that only good music can create.

I missed most of the first act scheduled for the evening– local band Preston– but I can say they were the most rock of the bands I witnessed, employing a strong sense of dynamics and a penchant for well-structured pop songs.

The Washington, DC-based band Forensics was on next, with a riff-heavy sound that reminded me of the early '90s Aberdeen, Washington, metal/grunge act the Melvins. Composed of ex-members of such hardcore acts Burning Airlines, Corn On Macabre, and Trial By Fire, Forensics has the traditional rock band setup-­ two guitars, a bass, and drums.

One thing that sticks out in my mind about the group– or should I say doesn't stick out?– is how little I remember about their performance. Though I noted a sound that "sometimes went into Iron Maiden territory," and I remember enjoying seeing the group perform, either the sonic waves they were producing weren't exactly timeless, or the next group's sounds were so great that they washed previous sonic memories from my mind.

Ultra Dolphins, composed of three guys from Philly, had a spastic time-changing sound that I think will play well in the majors. I'm kidding, of course, but the group has quite a local following in spite of their being based many states away. I saw the Dolphins perform at a house party about a month ago, and though that evening's performance did not especially endear them to me (it was in a garage, and the group's crank-it-up-to-11 sound had a habit of reverberating), this time I got the message they were throwing out, lock, stock, barrel– and the other lock that keeps lock #1 in the fully locked position.

Not only did the guitarist and the bassist both sing, but they had a penchant for alternating verse lines, a highly novel stereo effect, if I do say so. With his eyes wide open and his head whipping back and forth as he screamed out velocity rants in his chipmunk voice, the guitarist probably had the best stage presence of any performer I've seen at the Rose in a while– and the rest of the band were no slouches, either.

The mostly younger audience on Friday did speak of the generally non-hardcore stance of folks over 22– a situation I would venture to guess is because one can take only so much eardrum abuse before it's time to call it a day. The younger kids are smarter than I was a few years back-­ earplugs seemed to be the evenings fashion accessory, a piece of knowledge that I'm taking to heart for future shows.

Ultra Dolphins