Live: Punk on Punk Crime
The Shitty Limits/Logic Problem/No Talk

The Shitty Limits pic #1
The Shitty Limits. Photo by Matthew Juarez.

THE BACKROOM AT THE MINK -- 8/12/2009: I'm not particularly a fan of punk music. Actually, I'm not a fan of punk music at all, but somehow I keep ending up at punk shows by accident.
There was the time that Dude Jams! played The Backroom at The Mink. I had never heard of them before, I just knew they were coming through Houston on tour and decided to check them out. I pulled up alongside a Frito-Lay truck that they had pimped out into a tour van and saw a couple of kids skateboarding by some homeless guys. I went in, got a drink, and the next thing I know, those same homeless guys and skateboarders ambled in, set up their amps and played the most stripped-down, balls-to-the-walls music I had heard in a while.
So, it's a Wednesday night, and I hear that a band from the UK was coming through town, so more out of curiosity than anything else, I found myself back at The Mink. There were various band members sprawled outside on the patio sharing a cigarette when I pulled up into the parking lot. I paid my 8 bucks and got a $2 dollar bill in change. It looked like Monopoly money, with which I promptly tipped the bartender just in case it was Monopoly money. I lumbered my way upstairs and immediately realized that I was at a punk show.
It's not that hard to tell. First, you get a decidedly long glance from everyone in the room if you're even close to wearing a button-up shirt. It's not a me-vs-you stare; it's more a are-you-sure-you-mean-to-be-here-you-do-know-this-is-a-punk-show-right? stare. Long gone are the multi-colored Mohawks, chains, and steel-toed boots of my era when I was living in NY. That's been relegated to faux pseudo-rockers who sip martinis at Rocbar and treat it as more a fashion show than a mission statement. I remember when if you were perceived as being punk or hardcore, people were scared of you; now they ask if you'll take a picture with their granddaughter and show you their tattoos. Lately if I see close-shorn hair, dirty t-shirts, jeans, and some grimy Converse, I'm like, how the hell did I end up at a punk show?
The Shitty Limits pic #2
The Shitty Limits. Photo by Matthew Juarez.

So, I make it upstairs, and the first thing I see is band T-shirts taped all over the walls, and directly below them are crates and crates of records. I'm talking actual vinyl, here. I hadn't even seen a 12" LP since before Nintendo was invented, yet the only way you were going to hear any of these guys on record was if you had an actual record player. I don't even remember what a record player looks like.
At the bar, two guys were chatting over Lone Stars and I catch a whiff of the conversation. A demure, toothpick-thin lad with beer in hand and stilted English was talking about how police in Ireland were shooting kids in the middle of the streets. It made me wonder how politically charged tonight's bands would be, not that I'd be able to understand the lyrics. Beers were drained, new rounds ordered, and then The Shitty Limits took the stage.
It would be days later before I find out that The Shitty Limits have been hailed as the best UK punk band around. They're notorious for eschewing conventional press and marketing methods. They've flatly refused interviews, don't have press photos, and only go by their initials, which makes it impossible to tell who's who or who plays what. Coincidentally, they threw down one of the best shows I had seen in years.
The singer, the same fella talking about atrocities in Ireland, did the entire set from the mosh pit. I love the mosh pit like anyone, but I couldn't imagine singing from it. With mic in hand, he barked out his lyrics as he careened into bodies, was lifted off the floor, and tossed into the rafters. The only time I saw him on stage was when he stopped to catch his breath after he climbed on a guy's shoulders and got suplexed into the ground. At one point, he apologized to his bandmates for singing out of tune and had a sardonic debate with a crowd member about how he didn't sound anything like he was from Texas. The energy from the band and the crowd was overwhelming; it was an amazing show.
Logic Problem pic #1
Logic Problem. Photo by Matthew Juarez.

Next up was the trashy hardcore of Logic Problem from North Carolina. Think sharp, razor-tinged, percussive lyrics over brash guitars and dirty drum lines. Logic Problem have much the same philosophy as The Shitty Limits -- no press photos, no names -- and their singer, who vaguely resembles Joshua Scott Chasez from N'Sync, also performed from the middle of the mosh pit. Oftentimes, he was indistinguishable from the tangled mesh of fighting bodies, except when he jumped overhead to bark out lyrics to the rest of the crowd.
He got knocked down, a flurry of hands were thrust out to help him up, the mic was stuffed back in his hand, and the set raged on. The curious thing about Logic Problem is that I've never seen a fan beat up a band member before as a sign of affection. Halfway through the set, the mic thumps to the ground as fan and singer are rolling on the ground in a full fledged WWE wrestling match.
At the end of their set, Logic Problem's singer drops his pants and displays his ass for the world to see, so same fan kicks him in it. Not a love-tap, but a full-fledged side-stomp kick that could dislocate a hip. It was brutal, but then he lifted the singer up, patted him on the back, and gave him a huge hug. One of the most awesome things I had ever seen -- I wasted my beer on myself -- and yes, I think his pants were still down when they embraced.
Logic Problem pic #2
Logic Problem. Photo by Matthew Juarez.

The final band up was Houston's own No Talk. I had heard of No Talk and the shows they put on with The Secret Prostitutes and The Homopolice, but had never had a chance to accidentally see them play. With KGBeasley on guitar and vocals, The Wulffe on drums, and Tom of Montrose on bass, this trio is notorious for their super-limited vinyl runs, with one audiophile lamenting that he had to run down his copy from Denmark.
KGB had a 'roided hardcore growl as the band spit out a flurry of gritty, mid-tempo punk tracks, and by mid-tempo I mean sometimes their songs hit two minutes. In contrast to the fellas before them, No Talk left the mosh pit for the mosh pit and mainly stayed on stage, commanding it with ballsy abandon and an underlying sense of fun.
In that one night, I was left with more memories than when I got dumped by my fiancée, totaled my car, and went to jail for a P.I. all in one week. I just might need to accidentally go to punk shows more often. END