Dec 11, 2022
By Matthew Berlyant
Photography by Matthew Berlyant
What a great night and an incredible three band bill! Featuring current Messthetics (and former Fugazi, Rites of Spring, et al.) drummer Brendan Canty filling in on bass for Mary Timony (who had to take time off due to a family emergency but will be back soon), Hammered Hulls played a fantastic set consisting of songs from their recently released debut LP Careering, hitting even harder than their 2019 appearances at Union Pool. Fronted by former Faith, Ignition, and Warmers singer Alec MacKaye (also Ian MacKaye’s younger brother) and rounded out by guitarist Mark Cisneros and drummer Chris Wilson, this DC/Philly supergroup are just as potent live as on their records, exploring the late ‘80s/early ‘90s Dischord sound that Alec (in The Faith and Ignition) and Mary (in Autoclave) helped pioneer. Simply put, if you’re a fan of Ignition or other similar bands, you’ll probably like them. “Rights and Reproduction” was a particular set highlight on this evening, with MacKaye shouting “access denied” over and over again at the end just like on record.
Main support Skull Practitioners, now signed to In the Red records and about to drop their debut LP early next year after a self-released tape and an EP on the aforementioned In the Red, and featuring guitarist Jason Victor from Steve Wynn’s Miracle 3, were so good that they almost stole the show from the headliners. At times reminding of Hawkwind at their fuzziest and scuzziest (think Space Ritual), they modernized this heavy psych sound with a dose of punky garage rock aggression and ‘90s “math rock” wizardry, all three members (including wild drummer Alex Baker and bassist Kenneth Levine) taking turns on vocals, which blended nicely with their beautiful noisy maelstrom instead of focusing attention away from it.
DC’s Clear Channel started the night playing a set of almost new wave influenced post-punk/dub. Imagine the bouncy, funky minimalism of early Delta 5, but fronted by an indescribable and unique vocalist whose lyrics (the ones I could make out anyway) and overall vibe just seem to give off a sense of optimism and joy, a necessary tonic in the world today and in any era, and you’re most of the way there. With incredible charisma, vocalist Awad is impossible to take your eyes off of it and bassist Mary Relagado’s funky basslines make it almost impossible to not move your body while watching them.
All in all, this was a great night featuring one of the best three band line-ups I’ve seen in a long time.