A lot of good thrash and speed metal bands played Tuesday night at Los Globos but when you see a band like Retox play, the distance between them and everyone else becomes monumentally apparent. Retox are just one of those bands that stand out from the rest of the lineup of any bill they are playing on. They have that “thing” that transcends being labeled.
That being said, you won’t be seeing Retox play any psych fests anytime soon. They are most definitely a hardcore thrash/noise band. Last night was the last date of a month long tour supporting their latest album, Beneath California, released by Epitaph. Retox’s third full length album is a powerful statement of the band’s commitment to it’s overall sound. While other bands at the middle tiers of popularity seem to change course after a couple of releases, Retox has assured their base of fans that any added popularity they might experience in the future will solely be based on the merits of what attracted fans to them in the first place.
At 11pm, Retox took the stage and jumped right into their set with their distinct sound. The purposely raw sounding but finely tuned guitar tone of Michael Crain fluctuates between being a lead and being an added appendage of the frenetic rhythm section of Keith Hendriksen and Brian Evans. Justin Pearson somehow manages to look completely off balance and totally in control as he violently sways and stumbles from one side of the stage to the other, maintaining a clear and focused eye contact with someone in the audience at all times. The energy on the floor reached another level when the band broke out into “You lost me at ‘It wasn’t my fault”. The slippery floor of Los Globos was unable to support the flailing and oblong bodies of awkwardness, lumbering in half circles all evening. Once a drink or two was spilled onto it, it was hard for the more uncoordinated denizens of this evening to keep their feet underneath them. Retox ripped through their set. The good thing about seeing bands like Retox at this point in their careers is that there aren’t too many tough choices to make in the building of the set list. They played a great mix of songs off all three albums.
Retox play the type of music that historically draws a majority of men to this kind of show but Pearson is far removed from the scraggly, heavy metal parking lot aesthetic this is synonymous with heavy music- the real type of heavy music… not “nu metal”. Peppered all throughout the audience were clusters of attractive girls that aren’t normally in the same demographic as the brutes that typically frequent a metal show. Pearson has that thing that Mike Patton has- a prolific output of highly original music mixed with a pretty boy look and a wild look in the eye. That, along with a long list of really good bands like The Locust, Retox, Head Wound City and starting it all of with Struggle which he helped establish when he was only 15, Justin Pearson is setting the table for a real Patton-esque career.
The evening was also chock full of brutal opening acts such as Whores, Nomads and To The Point. The biggest standout was Whores. Aside from the chunkiest tone I’ve ever heard a Fender Telecaster make, guitarist/singer Christian Lembach is able to be ruggedly melodic through the chaos. The most difficult thing to achieve is a melodic vocal that doesn’t sound cheesy when laid over heavy music. Whores is able to achieve this balance convincingly.
Words: Danny Baraz
Photos: Taylor Wong