Heartbreaking Bravery

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Radioactivity – Live at Baby’s All Right – 7/30/15 (Pictorial Review, Live Video)

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At the end of July, just a day after the great Girlpool show, Baby’s All Right once again played host to a band I’ve loved for more than a year. This time around, the headlining slot fell to Radioactivity (whose self-titled effort was reviewed in one of this site’s first 10 posts)With two strong openers in tow, the night quickly turned into a frenzy of hard-hitting punk from a variety of corners. Honey Radar kicked things off with a relentlessly shambolic set of incredibly scrappy punk songs that constantly bled into each other and managed to frequently fall short of the 60 second mark. Played with vigor and an odd sense of somewhat detached joy, their set managed to be the perfect set-up for the evening’s remainder.

Flesh World followed with their own distinct brand of punishing post-punk, not bothering to give the audience much of a reprieve with a volume and intensity level that far exceeded the preceding set. The quartet followed their darkest, noisiest impulses and seemed to temporarily lose themselves in their performance, one that was greatly aided by Baby’s iconic backdrop setup, which managed to match Flesh World’s steeliest sensibilities to a frightening perfection. All the pieces fell in place and the band’s set came across as oddly triumphant before ceding the spotlight to the night’s headlining act.

After a brief tuning session- and with literally no warning- Radioactivity took a sudden headfirst dive into a marathon set that wound up equaling (and possibly exceeding) both Honey Radar’s recklessness and Flesh World’s intensity. Utilizing a myriad of seamless transitions and incorporating the strongest tracks from their latest effort, Silent Kill, the band brought just about everything they had to the stage. Old songs bled seamlessly into new songs (and vice versa), there was an astonishing determination on display, and a dynamic that saw both band and audience feeding off each other’s careening levels or energy.

By the end of the set, the bulk of the band’s still-building discography had been covered and everyone in the building looked deliriously happy and entirely exhausted. Impressively sharp and extremely high-impact, it was the exact kind of set that guarantees return visits, just as it was the exact kind of set that functions as the perfect reminder that Radioactivity’s earned- and fully deserves- their status as one of the best bands in punk.

Click over to the full photo gallery of the show here and watch some of the evening’s performances in the video below.

Strange Relations – Panther’s Conquest (Music Video Premiere)

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Photograph by Kate Essick

Back in March, Strange Relations quietly released the excellent -CENTRISM, a collection of songs teeming with a variety of great influences (indie pop, post-punk, new wave, no wave, hardcore, etc.). It’s an album that deserved greater circulation than it initially received- but, like all great bands that have the tenacity to reach wider platforms- they’re staunchly refusing to be dissuaded by something as trivial as small reception. I’m honored to be hosting the premiere of the music video for the shortest, sharpest, and fiercest song on -CENTRISM, “Panther’s Conquest”.

On -CENTRISM the song feels even more vicious than it does as a standalone piece, thanks to the sequencing choice to have it follow the record’s most gentle moment. Freed of sequential boundaries, the Lewis Wilcox-directed clip is allowed both a freedom and a fierceness that feels intrinsically tied to the spirit of the song. Utilizing striking visuals, great framing, brilliant editing, and a strong turn from Isabel Hendrix in the video’s central role, it plays on an unnerving sense of pulp to great effect.

Intercutting performance footage, cleverly placed snippets of lyrics, an empty, foreboding chair in a parking garage, a photoshoot, and more, “Panther’s Conquest” ultimately comes off as an exploration of personal identity, rendering it an accurate presentation of one of -CENTRISM‘s largest overarching narrative themes. As everything rapidly builds to what feels like may be a horrifying climax, the clip subverts expectations and ends with a different kind of powerful statement. It’s an elegant and graceful punctuation mark that makes the sentiments preceding it even more intriguing. Provocative, thoughtful, and full of beautiful neo-noir touches, it’s not a video to be missed.

Watch “Panter’s Conquest” below and order -CENTRISM here.