Sometimes I’ve just got to be the last asshole.
I was the last person to leave The Pinhook on Easter night, following an epic evening of furiously energetic local punk. Of course, I did not intend to be the last asshole, but that can sometimes be a side effect of letting the night decide how you will spend it…
Just prior to arriving at The Muslims Album Release show at The Pinhook, I experienced a very rare thing: I found free money. Cash is king at local shows, so naturally I visited an ATM on my way to the venue. While waiting for my cash to be dispensed, I noticed a $20 bill had been sitting in the dispenser… someone had left it behind, apparently for me to find. Found it I did. Into the wallet it went, and joyfully I moseyed on over to what I had hoped (correctly) would be one of the best local punk shows I have seen so far this year.
I arrived at The Pinhook shortly after 9PM. Dressed in my usual black and sporting the most dapper hat I have ever owned, I entered the venue in victorious stride and used that free money to drop my $7 at the door, and to grab a PBR and a shot of Jameson (keeping it classy). A few minutes later the first act took the stage.
Sister,brother is a Durham-based noise/punk band. For roughly 30 minutes the animated duo crushed my ears and tore into my soul. So of course, I was absolutely delighted. Using samples ranging from political to pure noise, sister,brother brought their definitively unique sound from the stage and into the audience. Vocalist Mark waded into the crowd several times during the set, gracing us with his demonic laugh, and injecting his intensity directly into the crowd. With their heavy riffs, screaming vocals, and their general rageful splendor, I expect nothing but continued bodaciousness from sister,brother in the future.
The female-fronted Raleigh punk trio, Pie Face Girls played the second set. I had been looking forward to seeing this band play after listening to their entire bandcamp page on one angry afternoon recently. Then after reading staff writer Zoe’s excellent write-up of PFG’s show at The Pour House last week, I was even more eager for this particular set. They did not disappoint. Playing songs like “Fuck you, I’m Pretty,” and “Washed Up,” this sparkly ultra femme punk band captured a breed of rage that for me, as a woman, made me revisit the anger I have felt in the innumerable frustrating encounters with some of the captious, dismissive men who have crossed my path over the years. PFG is decidedly unapologetic, as punk rock ought to be, but in a fiercely empowering way for women.
The slow-growing but continuous movement within punk to push aside the long-reigning white male punk rocker and replace him with the rest of us is one of the best things to happen to punk rock since the genre first found its legs back in the mid-1970s. This particular bill of local talent at The Pinhook on Easter night was a testament to this movement and the authenticity of its sound, its anger, and its message.
The night culminated with the much-anticipated set from the Durham-based punk trio, The Muslims, who were releasing their first album. After sound check, the group huddled together on stage, seemingly conspiring (about what I do not know), and then dove directly into their crushing heavy sound and apt political satire. During the set they even dedicated a song to the “white male [piece of shit] assholes” who think they know everything better than the rest of us, especially when it comes to punk rock. Reminded me of my ex… who is very much this breed of asshole, but that is a story for a different setting… Still, the brand of anger that The Muslims represent is that of marginalized peoples, especially those living in the United States where “you’re free as long as you say nothing about pigs killing people because it’s un-American to not kill black people,” the lead singer raged into the mic. It’s true–America has been a force of evil in the lives of countless people who have lived and died here over the centuries. Only recently has the political climate in this country reached a point where the privileged many have been forced to look this evil in the face and acknowledge the extraordinary pain their fellow humans have had to endure. So what better time, what better place for this rage, this contempt, this pain to be expressed than in punk rock, a genre whose sound is inherently aggressive, loud, and, for many people, cathartic. The Muslims are a unique band for many reasons, but what makes them stand out the most is that they are particularly suited to our times. They are very much in the right place at the right time making music that resonates physically, emotionally, and existentially. I, for one, will do everything in my power to make sure this band is heard.
By the time I left The Pinhook on Sunday night, I was feeling quite relaxed, although suffering from a mild tinnitus, to be sure. When I am old, I imagine I will need hearing aids. Knowing me though, I’ll probably point to them and say, “See? Evidence of all the fun I had,” thanks to nights like this and bands like these.
An original photo series by Staff Photographer Larry Jones.