If gang wars were this fun…..

Fort Reno has started it’s summer time showcase and this past Thursday was the perfect day to go check out some local talent. After the last couple weeks of constant humidity and general discomfort, the 1st of July was the quintessential summer evening. There was a clear sky and a cool breeze blowing through the new renovated park and I for one had a smile from start to finish. That smile only got bigger as “Gangland Buries Its Own” (GBIO) took stage.

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At first glance I found the accessibility of bands such as “Cursive.” They had a strong prog-punk glimmer that briefly winked at the alternative sound of the 90’s. However after the first two songs I saw the real substance of this band and that was pure melodic-hardcore. I am well aware of the district’s history of hardcore music and I am not going so far as to say that these guys are bringing it back, because let’s face it the time for that type of inventiveness has past. What GBIO does, and does so well, is revitalize the form in modern terms. Without claiming a strict formula they allow themselves to venture into ground that might not be new, but is still captivating and promising.

Enough with my scene deconstruction… the final point is that these guys rocked the hell out of Fort Reno. Zoey Rawlins has a voice that is just awesome, her lyrics are amazingly personal and give you more to chew on than most bands. Melding the coyness of Astrud Gilberto and the brash wisdom of Kim Gordon she could sing on one note the whole song then bust into a melodic whisper that was both haunting and memorable. One song I found particularly engaging was “Get the F Outta Reno.” The lyrics were about addiction and wasting away in the desert mirage for which Reno has become famous. I honestly felt like I was hearing an episode of the A&E show Breaking Bad.

A solid front woman is a key element of the band’s successful formula, but the band would not be much with out the skills of the rest of the band’s members. Ben Reese’s guitar work is solid and has just the right amount of shimmer. One thing that has always bothered me about some hardcore bands is the over use of distortion. I mean really what’s the point if you can’t hear the chords. Ben must share this same opinion because he balanced the natural sound of his killer SG with just the right amount of crunch. Being as this show was outside it was even more evident that he has a masterful grip on tone and this talent made the dynamics of the songs perfectly pitched.

Then there’s that rhythm section. At one point in the show Zoey commented that their drummer Matt Heden had arms like a gorilla in response to an impromptu drum kit break. He certainly had a forceful style of playing. Some drummers break sticks others break drum heads. I would venture to say that Matt would fit into both categories. Every strike was made with purpose and perfectly in time. Matt could strike just as well as he could finesse. The softer parts of the songs would never have worked if his strength were not accompanied by a great amount of restraint and thoughtfulness.

And then we come to Chris Verdak. I am guessing he grew up with bass strings instead of rattles because he is a master of the thick stringed instrument. Bassist’s often do not get enough credit, but Chris damn near stole the show with his phrasing and awesome stage presence. The highlight of the show for me was the song “Destroyer” in which Chris’s bass lines dance with Ben’s guitar to create a most engaging and surprisingly danceable tune.

So if you have gotten to this point in the review and you haven’t searched for them yet, here is the link. I recommend seeing them soon and make sure you get one of their stickers. It just might be the best piece of Star Wars art I have seen yet.

Till later stay cool and keep the noise alive!

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