Arriving extra early on an overcast Monday night, there was already a line out the door at Mercury Lounge, the tiny SoHo neighborhood music venue that hosts many up and coming darlings of Rock. This is usually not the place for massive international sensations like Frank Carter and his band The Rattlesnakes usually play. Unless they want to. That’s right, actually. If FCATR wanted to perform at larger venues, they would. They want the intimacy of bricks walls, low ceilings, and no barricades. They want to smell the crowd and get sweaty together. They want to jump around like crazy, but still see the whites of their fans’ eyes and speak directly to their hearts. For such a modern, slick band that makes incredible music, this is extremely Punk Rock. Bands used to mean more back then and were able to use music to take us someplace else for a little while. A lot of things tonight kept bringing me back to this feeling.
Local openers Sharkmuffin were an Indie revelation to my ears. Not being too familiar with them save for a little listening sesh beforehand, their live show was incredible. Mixing styles seamlessly like Surf Punk, 1990s Alternative, and Psychedelic Rock, I found the groups’ music entrancing and super fun. All three of these ladies are badasses in their own right, each augmenting the group with their talents. They have a brand new EP out, Gamma Gardening which you should do yourself a favor and go buy, right now.
The change over was pretty quick. The room had filled into sold-out capacity. There a cool mix of fans that clearly have followed Frank from his Gallows days, some from Pure Love, and more still from his recent output. His new album End of Suffering (International Death Cult) may be his defining moment in a career from what he has put down, not bound by what writers say in reviews. Frank does it his way, not unlike another famous Frank who made his name in New York.
You could feel the anticipation building in the room like a plane taking off The singular red microphone stand in its place signaled it was about that time. Smoke filled the stage to match the darkness and just when we were gonna bust, Frank strode out to a roar from the fans. He said a few words about loving us all and having a good time, something to that effect. I couldn’t make it out behind the screams of fans. Immediately the crowd started to move in time to the music and the band owned the goddamn stage. The crowd went nuts as the band launched into opener ‘Butterfly’! Stomping around in time to the groove, little has changed from earlier in his career. The band plays sexy Synth Pop and Rock jams with the same fury as Hardcore bands that used to traipse these same streets near this club. You could tell from the first minute this was gonna be one for the ages.
The boys went wild. Walking on shoulders into the crowd, moshing and singing with fans, crowd-surfing out to the lighting rig and hanging off the ceiling, it was crazy. And then fans started to mosh and crowd-surf too. A lot. Despite calls for him to strip his shirt off, he played cool but seemed truly touched by the love in the room. All night long I could not get the image of Francis Begbie from Trainspotting out of my mind. Sorry dude. Meanwhile, the band plowed through one sick sick song after another with all the skill of a surgeon. He introduced each song with a little story, giving some insights about his life and in a way ours with all the relatable material. A young girl at the front made a homemade End of Suffering Jacket with an entire embroidered back. He took it from her, put it on and did an entire song with it. She was likely losing her mind, as were the rest of us.
It was a great night. ‘Crowbar’ seemed like the finale, but the band went off briefly and came right back on. Playing the fan favorite ‘I Hate You’, the room drowned out the band and almost the instruments. Closing with ‘Four Simple Words’, they finally put an end to things. For a little while, we all went somewhere else together.
Why a Butterfly Can’t Love a Spider
Tyrant Lizard King
Devil Inside Me
I Hate You
Four Simple Words
WORDS BY KEITH CHACHKES