GIG REVIEW: AGNOSTIC FRONT Live At The Ottobar, Baltimore
Dawn 'Mama Love' Brown
PUNK: what do you think of when you hear that word? I was a member of the Die Hard Youth back in the day. When I think punk, I think of shaved heads, Doc Martens, 2-minute songs and bad attitudes. It’s interesting to know that things have changed over the years. However, one thing that has not changed is the sheer intensity of the genre, with the screeching vocals, simplistic drum lines and ridiculously energetic fans which, combined, almost guarantee that some amount of blood will be spilled.
Luckily, not much blood was spilled this evening at the Ottobar in Baltimore, MD. First up was Optimus Prime, a band currently flying under the radar. There are several bands using the same name and it was next to impossible to find any info on them. Terror Inc followed: a positively punky 4-piece out of Central Pennsylvania billed as horror metal. They gave a solid performance, the singer quite energetic despite his impressive stature. Next was Iron Price, a five-man outfit out of the Maryland/Delaware region. Honestly, the first thing I thought upon seeing these guys was, “wow, the 4H Club formed a death metal band”. The flannel shirts and baseball caps screamed country bumpkin, but once they themselves started screaming, all doubt was gone. They were tuned slightly too loud for the room, but they were still a credible punk band with a lot of promise.
Next up were the Oldham Boys from Baltimore, MD: another group of guys who proved themselves to be yet another example of traditional punk being alive and well and, luckily for me, in my back-yard. Pain! followed, who were another horror metal band out of Frederick, Maryland. Pain! enjoyed a big fan reaction as there were several individuals in the crowd showing their love for the band through various t-shirts and patches. The band invoked an energetic pit at times and was entertaining to watch with their haphazard horror themed makeup.
Antidote however arrived to mixed reactions. It was quite odd to see the singer of a punk band hit the stage in a three-piece suit. Regardless, vocalist Drew Stone belted out the screams, backed up by Nunzio on guitar sporting his best Steven Van Zandt headgear. These 6 bands came in quick succession resulting in shorter-than-desired sets and almost frantic efforts to get the bands’ respective equipment cleared and re-set. It would’ve been great to see maybe one or two less bands in the lineup so each band could have more time on stage and slightly less urgency breaking down and re-setting.
Finally, Agnostic Front bounded onto the stage in full-onslaught mode. It may have been Vinnie Stigma‘s 60th birthday, but it wasn’t visible at all. He still had all the amazing vigor of his youth like I remember seeing back in the 80’s. Even when presented with a bona fide birthday cake onstage, he took it all in stride, with the room following up with a healthy round of “Oi, Oi” for good measure. How can you be anything but cool with a mohawk like his? With Vinnie and Craig Silverman on guitar, Mike Gallo and Pokey Mo on bass and drums respectively, and Roger Miret‘s vocals, the guys crushed it repeatedly, song after song. The pit was a mess. Add awesome punk rock, a bunch of anger and aggression and a fair amount of alcohol, and you’ll have a messy pit. I only witnessed two incidents of blood being spilled, so overall, a very successful evening.
Bottom Line: This gig was a punk fan’s Holy Grail, and it definitely brought back tons of memories of hardcore shows in smoky back rooms and basements when hardcore was still mostly underground. LOVED it.