support Lack of Interest + Xibalba + Theories + Sleep Walkers
author MGA date 21/02/12 venue Aladdin Jr. II, Pomona, USA

I haven't been contributing to RockFreaks for too long, so a brief, two sentence recap is probably in order. I spent the final four months of 2011 studying abroad in Copenhagen, where I covered all things fast, brutal and destructive. Now that I've returned to my native Los Angeles, I'm back to spewing out text and photos related to the extreme, albeit of shows within the LA area.

This particular show -- a benefit concert for the daughter of ACxDC's singer -- was in Pomona, an artsy city just a few packed freeways east of Los Angeles. The venue? A Mediterranean/Middle Eastern restaurant called Aladdin Jr. II, a nice little place that doles out the pita while the hardcore punks overrun the sideroom that's devoted to DIY shows. If it sounds like a strange mix, that's because it is. But if powerviolence from a place more known for its humus than its shows sounds like it's just weird enough to be up your alley, read on.

Sleep Walkers

The show was slightly delayed, leaving black clad attendees huddled around tables next to innocent families eating dinner that made the wrong dining decision that night. When things finally got underway and Sleep Walkers took the stage, the vibe remained subdued. It's not that Sleep Walkers were bad... they sounded pretty much exactly like what you'd expect a hardcore punk band with a guitar player in a Nails shirt to sound like. It's that the band's live performance did very little to ignite a crowd that was clearly killing time before powerviolence legends Lack of Interest and ACxDC picked up their guitars.

The performance can be summed up best by the timid banter of Sleep Walkers' vocalist: "You guys can move up closer... if you want." With a bit of time, and maybe a beer or two (unless they're straightedge, a huge thing in the US hardcore scene), Sleep Walkers should be able to garner the experience and performance necessary to move up the bill. But for now, they're right where they're supposed to be: first.



Theories was a step up, but not by much. The band played a mix of death metal with hardcore, though that's not to be confused with deathcore, a bastardized version of the two with no place at this show.

But again, the crowd was treated to a vocalist that wasn't as energetic as they wanted him to be. While the Sleep Walkers vocalist seemed outright shy -- like that younger cousin of yours that your mom urges you to take to the movies to get him out of the house -- the vocalist from Theories was simply more content to scream his lungs out from the solitude of the stage.

Things got a bit awkward up front when a hardcore kid urged him to step off the stage and join the crowd on the floor, only to have the vocalist refuse with an awkward laugh. It was harder to refuse when halfway through their next song, the same hardcore kid yanked the vocalist onto the floor himself. He finished the song as best he could, did one more from the floor, then slunk his way back up onto the stage. Competent and capable describes Theories, and nothing beyond that.



Next was Xibalba, a band that clearly a great deal of the crowd had come out for. The hardcore scene in California is much different from the one I saw in Copenhagen at Ungdomshuset. While Ungdomshuset catered to the crustier hardcore kids with Black Flag tattoos, hardcore in California has developed into something that hardly even resembles that, with Xibalba leading the charge of what I like to call brocore. These are the bands that produce the pits that consist of a few people wildly swinging their arms, karate chopping imaginary foes to the sound of breakdown upon breakdown upon... what a surprise, another breakdown.

It's like spinning two tops at the same time, and then watching them slowly inch towards each other until light contact sends them flying in opposite directions. I do not like this. I actually outright hate this. But to each their own.

Xibalba immediately got the crowd karate chopping with a sound that was pure heavy. I may not respect this version of hardcore very much, but anyone with an ear that's been honed by extreme metal knows heavy when they hear it, and Xibalba fits the bill. That the end of their set ended with a kid bleeding from the face, leaving drops of blood scattered across the floor was no surprise.

Lack of Interest

My deardeardear Danish friend Anders, who urged me to attend this show (true friends look out for each other when choice powerviolence gigs materialize a continent away), describes Lack of Interest as the Slayer of powerviolence, and the label is a good one. Reconvened for raising money for the heart surgery of the daughter of ACxDC's singer, Lack of Interest sent the karate choppers for the doors, bringing California's true hardcore kids to the front.

The band hammered through songs lasting less than a minute in the way only powerviolence bands can: extreme speeds reminiscent of grindcore, minus the precision riffs. In their stead are filthy riffs that chaotically travel all over the place, sending arms and legs flying. This is what I'd signed up for when parting ways with my eight dollars at the door: 100 percent intensity from start to finish. My companion for this show is a friend of mine named Grace whose musical repertoire is made up primarily by Beyonce: this was her first show featuring extreme music of any kind. That Lack of Interest sent her backpedaling to the back of the room in the name of safety immediately after starting their set is testament to the ferocity that Lack of Interest both plays with and inspires in their audience.


And now, for the beneficiaries of the aid. ACxDC's vocalist, Sergio, made a brief speech before Anti-Christ Demoncore's set where he thanked all of the bands and fans for their overwhelming support of his daughter's heart surgery. He then mentioned the fact that he's straight edge, but being straight edge doesn't mean you're a better person. Life isn't about what you don't do: it's not about not smoking or drinking or doing drugs or not eating meat. It's about the kind of person you are, no matter what you put into your body. This was appreciated by those with and without sharpied X's on their hands, and without farther adieu ACxDC launched into 10 songs played in less than 10 minutes.

ACxDC fully embodies what it is to be a powerviolence act. They were the only band to play off the stage, and it wasn't just the vocalist; all members, even the drummer, were on the floor, surrounded by punks. As Sergio screamed about God knows what, the crowd screamed about it right along with him, their proximity allowing them to share the mic whether Sergio wanted them to or not. After one quick encore song (the begging for one more track lasted longer than the actual song, and that is not an exaggeration), the bands packed up for the night, and Sergio went back to manning the merch table, feverishly trying to raise funds for the life of his daughter.


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