Smurfpunx

12/30/2009

89-04-23 (Mikis Club) Soulside – Hate That Smile – Corporate Grave

The flyer is actually a discription of the bands and their music… Before, when other people made the flyers, it was just the names and the date+place… It says: “[Soulside] This Washington D.C. band rose from the ashes of ‘Lunchmeat’ in ’85 and – with the help of Ian MacKaye – their 1st album ‘Less Deep Inside…’ was released in ’87. They toured the US twice and in ’88 their 2nd lp ‘Trigger’ came out on ‘Dischord’. Their music is a mosaic of rhythms, melodies and pure fury; a swirlpool of straight HC-attacks and reggae- & rock-tinted songs (references from ‘Bad Brains’ to ‘Scream’) with above all the whirling guitars and the ‘personal politics’ typical for ‘Dischord’-bands. Catchy riffs, clear vocals and …an own style. *** They started a 3-month European tour. Smurfpunx would not be Smurfpunx if they didn’t get this excellent band to Belgium. The concert takes place in ‘Mikis Club’ in Aalst. Supporting are 2 new bands from the U.K.: ‘Hate That Smile’, who combine the poppy melodies of ‘Descendents’ with the positive energy of ‘Vernon Walters’; and ‘Corporate Grave’, the new pioneers of funcore after ‘Stupids’.”

This was the 2nd show at ‘Mikis Club’. Because ‘Netwerk’ wasn’t always available but also because of finances (Turn-outs were diminishing because people we getting spoiled/jaded with all those touring bands. The P.A. was cheaper for a smaller venue like ‘Mikis’.), we turned to this more intimate place; a “progressive pluralistic meeting-centre”. Unfortunately the public didn’t always find their way, even if it was only 700 m away from ‘Netwerk’… ;-)

A few days after this concert I wrote to  some mates about ‘Soulside’: “This is one of the most refreshing and inspiring bands I’ve seen lately. Really  innovative and honest music, and nice/congenial people too! The kind you want as friends.”… Bobby Sullivan was singing, Scott McCloud playing guitar, Alex Fleisig was the drummer and the bass was in the hands of Johnny Temple. (The latter 3 were to continue as ‘Girls Against Boyz’ and Bobby formed ‘Seven League Boots’ and would later return to Europe with ‘Rain Like the Sound of Trains’ – also with ‘Verbal Assault’s Pete Chramiec.) ‘Hate That Smile’ sounded refreshing, a surprise. ‘Corporate Grave’ a bit more stereotype. But both bands quite melodic and positive.

Brob

On behalf of the bands (‘Hate That Smile’ &  ‘Corporate Grave’)  and myself, I’ld really like to say thanks to anyone involved with Smurfpunx for the great show with ‘Soulside’. We had a great time; despite (initially) being refused entry into Belgium for having an incorrectly stamped carnet. It was such a bummer to go home again…

Rich Levene, S.T.E. collective – Southampton (’89)

‘Soulside’ played without a stage [Brob: there was none in de ‘Mikis Club’], on the floor and barefoot. It used to be the gathering-place for the local communists; a few of the old communist habitues at the bar were looking bewilderedly at the punk-violence.

Pieter B.

I remember that after being in some very different places than we had ever been before on that tour, getting to Belgium and hanging out with you guys was like we were back home hanging out with friends. Y’all had a great tight little family there.

Bobby Sullivan (‘Souldside’ singer)

The few gigs we did in Europe were organised through Rich Levene, who was great friends with ‘Vernon Walters’ from Hoorn in Holland. We toured with ‘Hate That Smile’ from Dorset, England. We had both played with ‘Soulside’ in Southampton before we travelled to Holland/Belgium for a couple [4; booked by Hans Engel] of gigs. It was great to meet up with them again in Aalst. They were pretty damn good on both occasions.

89-04-23 Brob, Mokka, Hans Engel, RabbitHans Engel, Mokka, Brob, Hazel, Rabbit & some folks waiting in front of Mikis Club for ‘Soulside’ to arrive…

The thing that sticks with me to this day was how well organised stuff was over there. In England everything was very ramshackle and you just turned up and played. Quite often you were lucky to get paid more than a few pounds for petrol. Going to a place were food was provided was amazing, it really inspired us to do things differently when we got back. Sitting around a table, sharing food with everyone in the various bands was fantastic. That whole tour was really good.

‘Corporate Grave’ was Steve ‘EMI’ Burgess [guitar; RIP], Scott ‘Not Scott’ [drums], Ricky [bass; now drummer for ‘Hummune’] & me… We only recorded a couple of demo-tapes…and some tracks for a compilation lp… All can be downloaded from the Suspect Device fanzine page. Ian of ‘Sofa Head’ once joked of ‘Corporate Grave’: “They are ‘Minor Threat’ with a Mohican”…(I wish)…nicest thing ever said…

‘Hate That Smile’ were Alex [Vann; drums], Shaun [Hemsley; vocals], Paul [Chambers; bass] & Paul [Simmons; guitar]…I think…

Funny: back then I was ‘living for the moment’ and never considered that I would want to look back on stuff… The main thing is that I have some great memories of those times…though I have forgotten so much…really great days and I feel pretty privileged to have been there… During this time Rich Levene & I were part of S.T.E. music-collective [Brob: the ‘smurfpunx’ from Southampton] who put on loads of DIY gigs , very much inspired/influenced by that trip. I dropped out of the S.T.E.; organising gigs was hard stuff… I went on to sing for ‘Older Than Dirt’…who played a lot around England & had 2 singles out…& later ‘Portiswood’…much later I teamed up with Tony Suspect to inflict our love of 80s hardcore on the world… I learnt to play guitar for ‘Chokeword’ (named after the ‘Scream’ song) and then ‘Pilger’, followed by ‘Screwed Up Flyer’ and now ‘The Shorts’…

Mike Fox (singer ‘Corporate Grave’)

I remember this gig for the hospitality of you guys and the mellow atmosphere. It was an afternoon gig, wasn’t it? It was great fun touring with ‘Corporate Grave’ and we have Rich Levene to thank for sorting things out from our end. I see Hans from ‘Vernon Walters’ is in one of the photos, I think he was helping to organise the tour. I loved ‘Soulside’, they played a great set that day, I bought a T shirt which I wore for years. I remember it being the drummer’s birthday, they announced it from the stage. So, after all these years: thanks Brob etc. for a great gig that felt like the epitome of a positive scene and good times.

Alex Vann (‘Hate That Smile’ drummer)

Well, I don’t remember a lot because it was a long time ago… However, I recall the place being a really cool place with lots of glass. It was my birthday – usually when we toured it was all the other guys birthdays, but this time I got lucky. I was given a pair of seriously hideous black polka-dotted underwear that I wore proudly that day. I can’t say that look will ever catch on in Milan or Paris but I was happy to have a birthday with so many nice people at the collective. I think everyone had a good time and the opportunity to have a birthday 3000 miles from home made it really special for me. As far as I remember, the crowd and the atmosphere was great. Everyone was very friendly and relaxed. I think we all had a really nice time there.

Alex Fleisig (‘Soulside’ drummer)

Bobby Sullivan (‘Soulside’) – shots by Nathalie Guyot

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12/16/2009

91-03-23 (Peanuts) Nations On Fire – Hiatus – Triptych – Zero Positives – Xinix

Filed under: Peanuts, Lede — Tags: , , , , , , , , — smurfpunx @ 10:28

Mokka called this the final Smurfpunx concert… Actually, there were some more later on under that name but it was probably the last one where the ‘main’ group of collaborators were involved. Things had been crumbling down those last months, ideas were drifting apart, the spirit faded. I was more and more reluctant to do shows for bands with HardCore-punk roots but who were just about the music and not the ideology/politics anymore; quite a few of these were touring with commercial promoters or releasing stuff on ditto labels and the D.I.Y. idea was far away.

As you can see on the flyer, I posed the question “Is there still a HardCore-scene in Belgium!??”. And that was because of the above. So I persuaded the others to do show with five Belgian bands playing different styles, from different regions and backgrounds; trying to ‘re-unite’ the Belgian punk-scene. All of them mates and/or people I was friendly with. ‘Hiatus’, the ‘crusty’ punx from Liège (french-speaking part of Belgium) replaced the originally booked ‘Vortex’ (don’t know anymore why these couldn’t make it). The ‘straight edge’ band ‘Nations On Fire’ (just came back from a UK tour, Hazel had left – see 91-02-08). ‘Triptych’, the band of the ‘Heibel’-bros (Jo, Herwin, Pé); Dirk Scum’s noise-combo ‘Zero Positives’ and the punky ‘Xinix’ (Bart Van Malderen & his mates). The idea was also to get a bigger crowd together again ’cause the turn-outs hadn’t been that fabulous. The ‘audience’ had become more and more jaded (only interested in ‘big’, well-known US or UK outfits) and divided.

Another problem we had to deal with was the fact that the people running the ‘alternative cultural centre’ (‘Netwerk’) in Aalst that had been so wellcoming all those years, became more and more reluctant to make the venue available for us. They wanted to do more and other activities (exhibitions, theatre, etc.) so we regularly had to look for another venue; which was not so easy: renting a place costs money, the location was not optimal. ‘Peanuts’ was more like an old local parish-hall in a ‘dead’ province-town (Lede) but this is what we could get and afford. We soon had to admit the place didn’t excite people too much…

I think the turn-out was still OK but it could’ve been better; especially with all these promising bands. Oh well, I guess the ‘buzz’ was more or less gone and it was time for something new. Myself, I would soon start to collaborate with the Vort’n Vis in Ieper…

The ‘Nations On Fire’ show was video-taped and appeared on on the anti-fascist benefit for the SCALP (Section Carrément Anti Le Pen, from Lille, France). This was the work of A.T.C. (Above The Crowd; i.e. Wim & Chat’n of the band ‘Blindfold’).

Brob

Well, at this point it was fairly clear that Smurfpunx were going to end, Vort’n Vis and it’s younger crowd had taking over by then, you just knew the old Smurfpunx crew was burning out and ‘growing up’, it was a new generation taking over. This show had some of the leading Belgian bands of the moment but it’s honest to say that ‘Hiatus’ and ‘N.O.F.’ were the two bands on this bill that had ambition to go somewhere. ‘Zero positives’ and ‘Xinix’ were nice people but you just knew that it would never go somewhere and ‘Triptych’ was a post-‘Heibel’ band that you knew were already going somewhere else that wasn’t hardcore.

Jeroen Lauwers

This was probably one of my first ones in ‘Hiatus’. A good souvenir.

Willy, ‘Hiatus’

Spatje (‘P.J.D.’) joining in on vocals with ‘Hiatus’ (pic provided by Spatje)

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