I shot my first show of 2023 and I’m more than thrilled that it was a DIY show in a dive bar, first and foremost the kinds of shows my heart always lives for and the place you’ll find me happiest in.
For this show, I found myself heading a hundred miles north of NYC, to the quiet upstate town of Catskill for a nice break from the city and a chance to be a visitor in a small town scene, honestly some of the best and most welcoming places to see shows. I’m spoiled living in NYC getting to see shows almost any night of the week (and I generally do between work or going out and about) but it is always my forays into these pockets of creatives and politically minded folks shaking things up that make the most impact on me (and by extension, the communities around them).
I also love a mixed bag show genre wise, which oftentimes comes as a means of necessity in these smaller scenes since there may not be a ton of bands playing the same style/genre in these areas like there are in cities. I come from small town scenes like this and still always appreciate it. (It does happen sometimes in NYC, but not enough and I certainly wouldn’t mind seeing more of it.) This show had that in spades with seven overall artists, and though I unfortunately wasn’t able to see the entire show, I was able to catch four of the bands who each brought their own flavor to the night. I was more than pleased to get to see friends (who I don’t get to see often enough) play in two of the bands: first, the ska/hardcore fusion greats, RBNX, who always put on a super energetic set and get the crowd riled up and dancing.
And the reason I made the drive, my “supreme forever homies,” political thrash metal powerhouses, WORLDSUCKS. I have spent countless hours in the van rolling to shows (while listening to Arnold Schwarzenegger prank phone calls) with them in the US and Canada; I always revel any chance I can to be at one of their shows. They were also playing their first show as a trio, having just made the addition of a bassist, Mike Sorensen, who added a dynamic element to the band not just with the bottom end, but with some experimental glitchy noise effects. I’m very excited by the new direction the band has been going in with their song writing in general, adding more nuanced and quieter instrumental passages in their newest (as of yet unrecorded) material, and can only see the addition of Sorensen allowing this to flourish even more.
Standouts of their set were “1312 Overture” (which will be on their next album, something I anxiously await), “Unlivable Hell,” and the always incredible fan favorite, “Punch Yr Local Nazi,” which got the crowd fired the fuck UP with some help from 50 Ft. Furies vocalist Tracy Noel.
WORLDSUCKS debut show as a trio
I also always love these kinds of shows to discover new stuff and I was able to take in the sounds of Icebox Cake who have a “K Recs circa 1992 twee/post punk” vibe going for them (and who sadly seem to have zero online presence that I can find to check out some of their recordings; someone please point me in the right direction if you know) and crusty punks, Phantom Sleeze, who put on a set of traditional punk rippers that reminded me of bands I saw at shows of my youth when I was first discovering and falling in love with punk music and culture.
If you want to have a great 2023, do yourself a favor and take a look at the DIY communities in your own backyard. Some of the best bands in the world are right there in under your nose, playing shows on Friday nights at the dive bar for a couple of bucks, no tickets required. You just might discover a whole new world, ready to embrace you, along with one hell of a soundtrack.
Scroll down for photos of the show (photos by Kate Hoos)