Preach the Punk 

“Roi” punks Skint: Is their message loud enough to get through?

Steer clear of the grate, my ass'so much for the hot tip from the junior punk pundits. Although I’m far from the Avalon Theater’s maw and its rusted braces, a gangly, mohawked teen’s elbow has just caused this delicate (sniff) flower pain. More is on the horizon; the pit is tumbling like Maytag’s Big Daddy Roth model clothes dryer, and Skint are barely a chorus into their first song.

nn

Tonight the Roy (Roi?) punk band is opening up for Seattle’s The Briefs and SoCal’s The Casualties, the latter just a bit senior to Skint on the ladder of Exploited-influenced oi! punk bands. Our local heroes don’t have the Casualities’ all-around street-punk aesthetic'only singer Joe Luis sports a proud ’hawk; the other guys are mostly buzzcuts and blue jeans. Skint are nonetheless philosophically right on with extra-lefty flair (“They! Lie! Troops! Die!”), and sonically, they’re about par for the course: trebly-distorted guitar, stomping rhythms, shouted choruses. And 200 or 300 gyrating, stomping, dervishes are eating it up like it’s Sunday afternoon at Chuck-A-Rama.

nn

It occurs that this particular strain of punk has one message it repeats loud and fast. It’s like preaching (in the Avalon Theater, née Community Church, no less) and definitely to the choir. But for the anti-Nazi viewpoint of those in attendance'and the obviously healthier upshot, it’s Sieg Heil aerobic edification.

nn

“I would agree to an extent [that it’s like church],” says Luis. “The music has always been about stepping outside of society, doing and saying your own thing. Its just good to be with people of the same idea.”

nn

Luis is confident and capable leading the service. He prowls the stage with a strange blend of showmanship and humility. As he shouts, he either flips off the crowd, offers them the mic or stoops down as if to do the punk-show equivalent of A Prairie Home Companion. He spins snarling yarns about decline and resistance in hopes that the young ones will in turn pass them down the line. Some of the kids are listening attentively while others already indoctrinated'or clearly romantically linked to a band member'blow off steam in the pit.

nn

“I go to shows for my own reasons'same as anyone else,” says Luis. “Some go to hear what’s being said onstage, some go to get in the pit and let out their aggression in a somewhat, should I say controlled, form of chaos? Others just go to be there or to be seen. I know our band uses the music to blow off a major amount of angst and anger toward the system. I mean some [kids are making the scene], maybe, but they’re the ones that come and go'some go and come back and with a whole new attitude.”

nn

Skint’s second and newest album, Falling to Decay (MySpace.com/SkintUSA), is a fist full of rebellious aggression that blows off a mushroom cloud of steam. In a cool dozen tracks clocking 37.5 minutes, the band rails against capitalism, war, abuse (of power, constituencies and ourselves), mall punk, propaganda/flackery and hypocrisy. Like the album title, the song titles (“Go Down Fighting,” “Decline,” “Chaos,” “Wrong Enemy”) let you know it’s the same punk, different band. Much easier to digest, though, when it rocks so hard. It’s loud, it’s fast, and it kinda rules. Can’t blame everybody for letting their bodies become conduits for the music, but still … you can’t help but wonder how many of the kiddies in this crowd are missing the point. Or listening at all.

nn

Everybody here, to some extent (and including yours truly) is making the scene. It feels cool to be here, waging war in double time and telling ourselves that the robo-stomping and elbow-throwing, the rebellious mosh-pit piggyback rides, the veganism (and accessory contradictory chain-smoking), and'in way too many cases, deodorant avoidance'is toward such an altruistic end (be that intellectual/political edification or just emotional purgation). Especially when there are so many youngsters committing the mortal scene sin of wearing the insignia of the band they came to see. Whatever; Skint and their ilk are just preaching the word. If somebody listens, cool.

nn

“I think it’s our scene’s responsibility to the younger ones to inform them of the social and political values,” Luis opines. “To look at both sides, left and right, with a open mind then come to their own conclusions. All while trying to build the scene. And there is always that chance that someone out there may be hearing what you saying for the first time.”

nn

Truly, there were enough alert tykes up front, holding up walls, or slumping in the former theater’s remaining three rows of seats. And it’s good they’re hearing this from Skint, whose sincerity can’t be doubted. (It’s like they say on “Not a Label”: It’s not a label/ This is our lives/ This is our struggle/ This is our strife.”) Some of these kids might just implement some of the ideas they hear tonight. Failing that, they can start an even bigger pit.

nn

SKINT
CD Releases
Burt’s Tiki Lounge
Friday, Sept. 29
10 p.m.
Brewskis, Ogden
Saturday, Sept. 30
10 p.m.

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