Show Review: The Men, Skin Like Iron, DNF and Destruction Unit

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• Destruction Unit’s on-stage antics
• Seeing the frontman of DukeNukemForever get body-checked into an amp
• Getting spit on during The Men’s intense set

This June 25th show was on my calendar for a couple of months, but it wasn’t until a week before the show that it was announced this would be the last show for this venue, the Pioneer. Hugely disappointing, given that this was one of the only outlets for hardcore and extreme music in the area. Santa Cruz needs all-ages venues to revitalize the music scene, and provide an outlet for all forms of musical expression. Musical expression is never going to go away; only go underground (or noisily setup in your neighbors garage).

dsc_0198edit The show started full-tilt with Destruction Unit’s garage rock.  Actually, garage-rock is a bit of a misnomer, as they sounded more like a primitive At the Drive-In than The White Stripes. These feedback worshipers from Pheonix, AZ, blasted a wall of psychadelic sound at a crowd that was anxiously waiting to see what would happen. Their set was well received by the crowd, and no doubt they will have some success opening for The Men during the next week.

dsc_0351Duke Nukem Forever setup next, and I wasn’t prepared for what the crowd already knew to expect. I ended up crammed in a hole in the wall (literally) trying to shoot the band between the whirring, moshing masses. They definitely fit into the power-violence, 1:30 punk blast scene; but they’ve got some great dynamics using noise, varying guitar tones and tempos to keep things outside of your expectations. The bass-tone alone is something to envy.

dsc_0496Third on the bill was Skin Like Iron, and, sorry to say, this was a low point for me. For a hardcore band, they sure sounded generic. Their sound was so straight-forward punk I was waiting for some harmonized ‘woah-oh’s to break out at any moment. Maybe it just wasn’t my thing.

dsc_0809Finally, The Men took the stage and held the room mezmerised for the next hour or so. Actually, I don’t know how long it was, I was too busy trying to defend my spot up front after being punched in the face by a stage-diver, spit on (unintentionally) by the band, and having moshers swarming behind me like bees.

The intensity with which The Men lock into a groove is something to behold, and the way they can turn even half of a riff into a seven minute song is amazing. The soloing was unique and personal, I wasn’t expecting three of the members to sing, and I was surprised to enjoy their newer, less noisy material, as much as I did.

The biggest surprise was the finesse and warmth with which Ben Greenberg navigated his bass, all while rocking out like a champ. Well done Ben, well done.

It’s now Thursday, and my ears have stopped ringing. I’m already looking for the next Pioneer show that isn’t coming.

The Men

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