Negative Approach Brings the Punks Out to Great American Music Hall, 2/9/13

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Chiara Corsaro (all rights reserved)
Negative Approach @ The Great American Music Hall
Negative Approach
Bad Antics
Guantanamo Dogpile
Great American Music Hall
Feb. 9, 2013

Better than:
Anything else you can buy for $5

As the last chord of the song rang out, John Brannon's grimace took center stage. The front man of pioneering Detroit hardcore outfit Negative Approach stood still, looking out into the crowd with pure anger, depression, and hatred. His right hand, gripping the microphone, slowly began to make its way up from his hip toward his mouth as feedback rang throughout Great American Music Hall.

His upper lip twitched, like a dog threateningly showing its teeth.

The mic continued its slow climb towards his mouth as the packed house looked on. Once the mic reached its destination, Brannon uttered only a single word through his teeth in a fierce, subdued tone.


That's when the bassline came in, and people lost their fucking shit.
(Skip to 21:23 to see this moment:)

The energy generated by the band was almost unbearable. Negative Approach doesn't just "still have it" -- the group never lost it. Saturday's set was song after song of unstoppable madness. No bouncers, no barriers, just chaos. People jumped off the balcony, annihilating bystanders below. Stagedivers flew through the air left and right, caught by a frenzied crowd. One guy lit balls of napkins on fire and threw them off the balcony onto people (he was ejected).

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Chiara Corsaro (all rights reserved)
Negative Approach @ The Great American Music Hall

The music, however much it is relished by the punk community, isn't the most sophisticated. But that's not what is important here. Negative Approach live is more than music -- it's pure emotion. Emotion that starts with the band, but ends up moving everyone in the room.

Brannon, who's voice has changed into a more scream-heavy style than in the past, doesn't sing all the lyrics exactly how he used to, but his facial expressions transmit the meaning of the songs better than words ever could.

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Chiara Corsaro (all rights reserved)
Negative Approach @ The Great American Music Hall
The band executed its songs with the same ferocity and vengeance that it always has, giving attendees a rare peek into hardcore roots now immortalized in books and documentaries. But more than that, the audience on Saturday got a peek into what it's like to be a really pissed-off dude from Detroit who hangs drywall for a living.

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Chiara Corsaro (all rights reserved)
Negative Approach @ The Great American Music Hall
The show was originally supposed to include OFF!, Keith Morris's new band, as the headliner. But when OFF! cancelled due to sickness, the price of the show dropped all the way to $5, which is cheaper than most local shows in Bay Area punk. With only a day's notice, word that Negative Approach was playing for $5 spread like wildfire. So weirdly enough, OFF! dropping off the tour probably ended up bringing more people out to the show.

So many Bay Area punks were there. Taylor Todd of Secret People soared through the air. RJ of Living Eyes was tearing it up. Jasmine of Neo-Cons was right up in front. Scotty of Tankcrimes was up in the balcony. Davey Havok of AFI was hanging out. Scootch of Side Effects was there. Anthony Anzaldo of Ceremony (the guitar player with that haircut) was there. Cyco Loco of Oppressed Logic opened the night. Mikey P of Crucial Cause and Brace Belden of Warkrime rose from the grave and made appearances. It was like the punk Grammys or something. Hell, Jello Biafra even got a stage dive off, and he's like a hundred years old! (Actually 54.) Can you say "lifetime achievement award"?

Here is a video, filmed by Leasa of Instant Asshole, showing some of the stage-diving action -- including your author:

So it was a very special night. If you are punk living in the Bay Area and didn't come, you should be ashamed of yourself. Or better yet, just turn in your badge and gun, cause you're officially off the force. Negative 10,000 punk points to each and every one of you who chose to stay home. All of your opinions are void for at least a year because you obviously have horrible decision-making abilities. It's Negative fucking Approach for $5. That's practically free. You can't even get a burger for $5. This is a band from Detroit (aka on tour) that started in the '80s (aka time machine). Do you have any idea how many miles a time machine gets per tank of gas? I'll tell you right now -- it's not a lot. So do everyone a favor and just stay at home forever, because you are obviously not fit to function in the real world.

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Chiara Corsaro (all rights reserved)
Bad Antics @ The Great American Music Hall
Bad Antics from Orange County were the main support for the night. This riff-heavy skate-punk 'n' roll band has been around for a very long time, and have never given up on its brand of punk. These guys sound like a band that should be on the soundtrack of Tony Hawk's Pro Skater, and with the work ethic they have, I have no doubts that one day they will be. They got the crowd moving, creating the first large circle pits of the night.

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Chiara Corsaro (all rights reserved)
Bad Antics @ The Great American Music Hall
Guantanamo Dogpile, the opener, is an all-covers band whose members dress up as soldiers and abuses prisoners on stage. They also have some women in burkas that degrade women in the crowd for wearing immodest clothes, and make stereotypical terrorist-like noises. It's meant to offend, similar to The Womentors. 

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Chiara Corsaro (all rights reserved)
Guantanamo Dogpile @ The Great American Music Hall
Critics notebook: Snap!

After a stage dive, I found myself towards the front of the crowd singing along. I was looking straight ahead when someone came crashing down on the top of my head. My neck released a loud "pop! pop! pop!" and my head slammed all the way down against my shoulder before I crashed to the floor.

"Oh my god, I broke my neck like all those people at the Cro-Mags show," I thought to myself.

My stomach sunk and panic set in.

Is it broken? It sounded like it snapped. What does a broken neck feel like? I can feel my feet. That means I'm fine, right? Is being paralyzed the same as breaking your neck? Maybe I just have a hair line fracture?. Oh god I can't feel my hands! Wait, yes I can, I thought to myself.

As I made the punk walk of shame towards the back of the venue, holding my neck, some of these thoughts were probably coming across on my face, because Certified B-list punk celebrity Meghan of Punch came up and asked me if I was okay.

I said I was. I didn't know at the time, but I'm pretty sure I am now. We'll see how sore I am. It was worth it. Don't come to the show unless you're ready to die for the cause.

-- @MattSaincome

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