Hi 72 / Lo 58
|Volume 69, Issue 94,
Thursday, February 19, 2004
Arts & Entertainment
Influential punks play small crowd
Subhumans' impact on music not reflected in poor attendance at impressive concert
By Jason Gagnon
Hands Up Houston brought a great punk rock show to Mary Jane's on Tuesday that was poorly attended. When insignificant groups like the Casualties and the Exploited come around; the mohawk mafia overruns the club no matter what the night. But, the Subhumans, arguably one of punk's most important bands, drew a modest turnout that should have been a sellout.
New Mexican Disaster Squad from Orlando, Fla., started the night off brilliantly. The band sounds similar to Texas rockers Riverboat Gamblers but with a more obvious punk influence. Loud and fast bursts of punk fury impressed most of the crowd and even got a few kids dancing. There was some trouble hearing the lead guitar but this wasn't the band's fault. The sound at Mary Jane's just isn't that clear. Utilizing a Bad Brains cover, NMDS ended up winning over the entire room and sent kids with Crass shirts straight to the merchandising table.
It was obvious from the excitement around the stage that many in the crowd were looking forward to checking out Caustic Christ. Their name may bring to mind images of smelly, gutter punks but these guys were all bathed and a little older than your usual punk band.
After what seemed like a long wait, Dick Lukas staggered onto the stage in a torn Rezillos T-shirt and the Subhumans launched into a diverse set that included favorites like "Zyklon-B-Movie" and "Subvert City."
When older punk bands play today, it seems like there's no point in its return and the performance is usually boring. While the rest of the band looked glued to the stage Lukas made slid his lanky body across the stage with an angry sneer on his face screaming politically-charged lyrics.
Lukas reminded the rowdy crowd to take their anger out on the government and not each other and when kids started throwing water he told them to share it, not waste it. Plenty of songs were dedicated to George W. Bush, and Lukas took time to explain the importance of issues like animal rights.
It was great to hear the Subhumans play some of their more reggae-influenced songs but the highlight came when Lukas dedicated their cover of the Clash's "Complete Control" to the late Joe Strummer. After a short gasp for air, the band encored with favorites like "Mickey Mouse is Dead" and sent the crowd home sweaty and tired.
Subhumans/ Caustic Christ/ New Mexican Disaster Squad
Mary Jane's, 4216 Washington
The verdict: Best punk show in town
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