Hemogoblin, who opened at Pat’s Pub on the third night of Music Waste, stood on-stage in silence for twenty minutes before the first sounds finally came out of the speakers. Oddly, it wasn’t a guitar riff or snare hit, though. Rather, the wall of noise that started the gig was that of a PA dying. Hemogoblin did their best to combat the technical difficulties — the duo played a hi-gain set packed full of goodies that made me frustrated to have to listen to it all through the in high-pitched squeals and exploding bass fuzz of the mangled sound system. Guitarist Ian Kinakin had more than enough six-string prowess to mash up surf, thrash, and garage rock into a proper rock ‘n’ roll performance. Seeing him work a loop pedal to add in bass lines and other backing tracks was a treat, and added depth to the stellar performance.
The New Values attracted a lot of front-line attention as the crowd squeezed in tight to get a look at the threesome, a feat considering the intense volume at which the kick drum was (unintentionally) coming across. The group channeled a strong Cali-punk vibe with raking guitar riffs and steady bass lines — think the Germs with a heap more talent — but the real draw was the smarts with which the trio played their tunes. The almost academic combination of art-punk and L.A. crunch made the New Values an easy act to enjoy.
To say Cowards “took to the stage” would be inaccurate, since vocalist Keith Wecker spent most of his set among the audience, screaming at the crowd like he’d gargled whiskey before the show. Cowards played a fairly traditional hardcore set in the vein of Fucked Up — a big, bearded guy shouting angry lyrics atop post-punk guitar riffs. Maybe the sound guy was drunk, but the terrible, grainy quality of the set didn’t help Cowards stand out, even if Wecker was standing on a table by the end of it all.
Womankind’s Scott Malin looked slightly uneasy getting onto the stage, which was understandable given the state of the PA system. Despite the high potential for failure, Womankind sounded great and played a raucous, if short, set. Like a rumbling, drop-top convertible version of Pissed Jeans, the band tore through all four of the songs on their new self-titled record — “2 Out Of 10,” “Five,” “Miami Tan” and “Fang Fang” — before moving on to material both new and old. That Womankind were able to defeat the demons plaguing the sound setup for long enough to thrash the crowd into exhaustion might lie in Malin, who sung with such passion and anger as to be genuinely intimidating. At the end of the night, the pub emptied quickly as the audience went home to rest up for the next night of Music Waste — or maybe, like me, they just needed to give their eardrums a break.