Dag Nasty – Trivial Dispute – Crime & Punishment 2012 – Birmingham O2 Academy 3 – 8th August 2016
US Post Hardcore Pioneers Dag Nasty reformed in 2015, they released a 7″ single and played a handful of US dates. This year it’s our turn with the band playing a sprinkling of dates around their triumphant appearance at the Rebellion Festival which one of Fighting Boredom’s friends described as being blown away by. Fighting Boredom’s Adrian Bloxham and Martin Ward went to Birmingham on Monday to see for themselves.
I saw an ad for Rebellion Festival that announced that the reformed Dag Nasty were playing. Fighting Boredom weren’t doing Rebellion for one reason or another so we decided to keep an eye out for the warm up gigs, so here we are in the smallest of the venues at the O2 academy in Birmingham waiting.
Dag Nasty were signed to Dischord, they contain a member of Minor Threat. If you don’t know who Minor Threat were, go and listen to them now, right now, then come back and read the rest of this. I don’t know how long they will stay together and I suspect neither do they but at this point in time they are there, in front of me, and they are burning as bright as they ever were. But I’m getting ahead of myself. Deep breath and back to the start.
Beer is drunk and stories swapped on the way in the car, lots of laughter and explaining. Inside the venue is empty. The barman is in despair as there is no beer on tap and he has only warm cans to serve. The crowd gets bigger and the first band come on.
Crime and Punishment 2011 are four kids with Mics and a netbook spitting out beats and samples. They are having an absolute whale of a time and with the place now half full they express how there are more people here than they thought there would be. They are young, angry and one of them is running amok on the dance floor. Another is bent double screaming, the third in a baseball cap is pointing and rapping and the last member is bent over the laptop making it work. There doesn’t seem to be enough space to contain them, they are bouncing off the walls, surprising Security at one point by exploding back into the room, it’s a brilliant expression of teenage anger and frustration. It’s a very British take on the music. You get the impression that they are misfits and geeks, and there’s nothing wrong with being a misfit or geek, it’s what punk rock was built upon. They finish with one member prostrate on the floor as doom laden beats pulse, a great start to the night.
Trivial Dispute play to a pretty much full room. The bassist wearing the first MDC tee-shirt I’ve seen for years. They are straight ahead proper Punk, playing hard and fast which leaves you exhilarated. They have a US hardcore influence and so have won the crowd over pretty much as they start. There’s nothing elaborate here just good old noisy fun. They have a twinge of Therapy? with some of the set, the two vocalists matching well. One low and growling and the other high and melodic. Along with the pounding bass and punk riffs the songs flow well.
They have a sense of humour too, when the bass needs tuning the other pair go into some impromptu free jazz to keep us entertained. They are also clearly in awe of the headliners as talk of fanboys is hushed. They finish with a dense hard sound as they slide more towards hard core. A good band well worth a look.
Dag Nasty though, are in a whole different class. There is a huge feeling of anticipation in the crowd, a good number of which have the bands logo emblazoned across their chests. They walk on and there’s a roar. Shawn introduces himself and they are gone. From the very first note until they walk away smiling at the end they are as tight as fuck. They are the link between US hardcore and the emotional openness of Embrace and Fugazi. They straddle both camps and tonight they show us why they should and are still playing together again.
Shawn is dancing across the stage, they are all smiling and going all out into the music, maybe they are feeling old at some points but it doesn’t show in the sound. The noise is immense and leaves me speechless with its power. The hairs on the back of my neck are standing up as my youth comes back to kick me in the face.
Shawn is right up on the barrier between the crowd and the low stage, shouting, singing and being a part of this mass. I can’t see Colin drumming but he keeps the whole thing focused and pure. Roger’s bass is locked in with the drums and he stands on the left. Brian plays guitar like a madman. No histrionics and solos, no doodling, just straight ahead riffs and patterns that point the sound into the punk tunnel it belongs in.
I’m struggling for words here. It’s Dag Nasty. On stage in front of me and they are absolutely taking the place apart. You know how some bands reform for the money or for glory, Dag Nasty have reformed for us, just us, that’s what it feels like, and if they never play again at least I’ll have seen them the once.
Whether they are giving us the white hot roar of hardcore or the slower, emotion laden punk they nail it completely. Then for Shawn to announce that this is his favourite song by his favourite band and launch into Staring at the Rude Boys, by the Ruts, just puts any doubts aside and lets you watch as they eviscerate the song as the crowd lose it.
The friends we came with are either ranting about what this music means to them and where it takes them or dancing to the songs that they have waited thirty years to hear live. It’s a triumph and we come out buzzing.
What we need is for Dag Nasty to keep going, to release more than the seven inch single that I came home clutching and to tour again. Because trust me, when that music slams in, you just go.
Crime & Punishment 2011
Dag Nasty’s website is daghouse.com. They are also on Facebook.
Trivial Pursuit’s bandcamp page is trivialdispute.bandcamp.com. They are also on Facebook.
Crime & Punishment 2011’s bandcamp page is crimepunishment2011.bandcamp.com. They are also on Facebook.
All words by Adrian Bloxham.
All pictures by Martin Ward.