As we posted a couple days ago, Refused played a secret garage show in Brooklyn to 100 people right after selling out the 3,000-capacity Terminal 5 in New York City on Sunday. A good friend of the program, Daytrader vocalist Tym (he doesn't have a last name, deal with it), managed to catch both shows. Want to know what it was like? Check the replies to read about his thoughts on Refused's reunion and the legendary double-header of shows Sunday.
At Terminal 5, Refused definitely took at least 10 minutes to get into get into their groove, which is unfortunate because three of their best songs (Worms, Party Program, and Liberation) went during that lull. You could probably find a more fun crowd at a Korn show, but, whatever, the audience isn't necessarily a reflection on the band. Near the end of the set, people were actually picking up people who were falling.. that was nice.
A strange moment was hearing "Liberation Frequency", having seen Paramore play "Born for This" in this same venue not too long ago. Really cool to see the reach Refused has, from the awful ripoffs all the way to the massive pop-rock bands.
"Summerholidays vs Punkroutine" was probably the coolest song of the night. Oh, and yet another show where Lou came out to cover a Sick of It All song, which is always sweet. That cover probably had the best energy of the night.. the kids (adults now, ha) who actually grew up listening to punk/hardcore were out in full force and the pits weren't just "hey bro, let's slam into each other as hard as we can!".
Also, after reading Tym's writeup, this is a great chance to namedrop Aficionado, who you should be listening to on the reg if you like Cursive, Piebald, All Get Out.. that kind of thing. One of the best bands I discovered last year.
in long form: the thing to really and truly note about this run of shows is that unlike a lot of "reunion shows", where bands well on in their years try to specifically recreate what once was, we have a band that is in a truly unique situation; they were trying to finally realize what never was. when shape of punk came out, it was an album that was simply not particularly well received, it was challenging and different from their contemporary and didn't really find a home. they were attempting to sell a grand statement to an audience not ready for it, and maybe as a band with a struggling lineup, they had an album they arguably weren't even ready to actually play. anyone who's ever tried to play over a backing track in a new jersey basement with a shitty crate PA knows that never ever ever works (crunk core bands: FUCK YOU, BREAK UP) (except tower of gopal, that shit is brilliant).
but all these years later, everyone had their reservations. the band, the audience, the critics, the scalpers. but what was delivered to us was a band, "reunited", that is the best version of that band that ever existed. hands down. and good goddamned they fucking KNEW IT too. expertly practiced, flawlessly presented, ambitious and daring, and feeding rabidly off everyones sweat in the room into an outright fucking tornado of bravado and confidence and total FURY. thats what made these shows special, we were seeing what they spent YEARS dreaming about, in a place they dreamed about playing, you could see it in their faces as they played. this was a milestone finally realized. there are plenty of internet naysayers who say "oh theyre just doing it for the money" or "they didnt look that into it" or "they werent as good as they used to be." look at them. loooook at them. no no and no.
all that being said, i drove in from boston specifically for these shows and to do some art related happenings as a little vacation away from, well, everything. i went with exclusively OLD friends, people i knew from that era, people i've been in bands with, high school friends who accompanied me through the discovery of punk rock in the first place. for both terminal 5 shows i was right up against the barricade, squeezed of all but a faint breathe and just floored at how perfect everything around me was. the bonus of not drinking is that you don't give ANY kind of fucks about $8 beers, so it doesn't ruin your evening. turning around and seeing the vaguely thunderdome-esque venue, everyone on the same page (except Cerebral Ballzy, i have NO idea what page they were on), and cobwebs coming off a lot of older people who thought maybe this would be a huge disappointment like everything in the lives of your average 30 year old seems to be; it was something special.
so bruised and battered we left and took the train back to brooklyn, glowing, but the glow slowly transforming into the realization that my ankles arent what they used to be and my 2012 neck is unfamiliar with this "whipping hair back and forth" thing. despite rumors, constantly unfounded about a "secret show", we all decide to call it a night. then the previously mentioned Tym sends me a text. "its happening." so my friend and i run out the door, booking it full tilt the entire way through back streets of brooklyn to the venue, as fast as our feet will take us, nearly hopping over a literal train that blocked our path to trim off some time. me, in my infinite wisdom, chugging a bottle of coke the whole time because fuck you dad, thats why. people were there. the line grew, more and more taxis arrived, people nervously walked past everyone up front, knowing the farther they walked the less likely they were getting anywhere near the door.
and then we were inside. dennis said that the terminal 5 shows were our gift to him, and that this show was his gift to us. briefly holding my cellphone camera like a goddamned asshole, i realized "what the fuck am i doing?", threw it in my pocket, shoved my hat into my pants for fear of losing my favorite hat, saluted my friends behind me and tore myself to the front, up and off the stage to get things going with a solid leap. and off we went. as always, it wouldnt be a real punk show if there wasnt a problem with a makeshift PA. outside i hugged Dennis, telling him thank you for an amazing two days and that i was so happy for him*.
*full disclosure: in 2000 i bought an X belt from Dennis. i still wear it today, it is my favorite belt. this transaction did not bias my review of the Refused reunion shows.
I got chills reading this, I wish I was there. I saw them at Coachella and surreal is the only way to describe it. Dennis is 40 but he moves better than pretty much every 20 year old front man out there. I hope I get the chance to see them again, I'm not sure if any other band could live up to 14 years of pent-up expectations the way that they have.
Young bands take note. If you truly mean what you write to your very core, your record can live on forever.