The FUs, DYS, Jerry’s Kids, Gang Green, and Slapshot are all bands to which the oft-overused term “legendary” is fitting. Along with cohorts SSD, The Proletariat, The Freeze, and a select few others, these bands built the Boston hardcore/punk scene in the ’80s. While virtually all of these bands broke up decades ago, their spirit and their sound has endured, creating a lasting legacy.
When it was announced that Gallery East was organizing a reunion show to be filmed for the documentary All Ages: Boston Hardcore featuring DYS, The FUs, Jerry’s Kids, Gang Green, and Antidote (from New York City), I knew it would be a historic event not to be missed. The director of the All Ages documentary, Drew Stone (singer of Antidote), played the role of MC, welcoming everyone to the show and introducing all the bands.
After The Revilers warmed up with their blend of hardcore and oi, Refuse Resist took the stage. Toward the end of their set, vocalist Shawn Refuse announced that there was someone on stage who wanted to sing — he handed the microphone to none other than SSD’s Springa. With his messy dreds flailing and his painted eyes bulging out of his head, Springa took the mic and declared “First song, first album!” He and the band launched into a rendition of SSD’s “Boiling Point” from The Kids Will Have Their Say.
On stage, Springa was like a feral animal, charging back and forth and demonstrating that he hasn’t lost the ability to scream his lungs out with the best of them. This one-off performance proved that if he and the rest of SSD can ever bury the hatchet, he’s ready for a reunion.
Next up were special guests Slapshot, added to the show to replace Soul Control. From the opener “Back on the Map,” to “No Friend of Mine,” “I’ve had enough,” “Watch me Bleed,” and “Secrets,” the band burst out of the gate with favorites to work up the crowd. They included a cover of the Last Rights song “Chunks” before returning to their own material, “Old Tyme Hardcore” and “Silence.”
If there is one thing vocalist Jack “Choke” Kelly has a reputation for, it’s his sharp wit (not to mention, his disinterest in what others think of him). This was on display when he commented that he was looking forward to seeing DYS because he wanted to see Dave Smalley sing “Straight mind, razor’s edge, firm footing on a social ledge,” from the song “More Than Fashion” and do it with a straight face. “Because I don’t think he can,” Kelly proclaimed. The band were tight and full of energy, and the ever-entertaining Kelly was in great form.
After Slapshot, New York City’s Antidote took the stage. After performing “Something Must Be Done,” “Life is Well,” and “Die at War,” they surprised the crowd with an unexpected cover of Minor Threat’s “Filler,” of which Stone remarked “We’re the band that can pull this off.” They immediately followed “Filler” with another Minor Threat classic, “I Don’t Want to Hear It.”
After a block of their own songs, the band followed “Road Warrior” with a rendition of Black Flag’s “Rise Above,” and ended their set with “Real Deal” and the controversial “Foreign Job Lot” from Thou Shalt Not Kill. Overall, it was a good but uneven set. While the powerful voice of Stone held things together throughout the set, I thought the covers Antidote played sounded tighter than their own material.
Gang Green was the next band on the bill, opening with “Have Fun,” followed by “Kill a Commie.” They played crowd favorites “We’ll Give it to You,” “Skate to Hell,” and “Rabies” inciting a particularly enthusiastic fan to jump on stage and take the mic from singer/guitarist Chris Doherty. He would be a bit of an annoyance throughout the band’s set, but Doherty — as well as the rest of the band and the audience — took it with good humor. The band performed a cover of Till Tuesday’s “Voices Carry” and the intense “Another Bomb,” but about a minute into “Out on the Couch” Doherty stopped singing and vomited all over himself, his guitar, the stage, and at least one person in the audience. He kept playing guitar, and finished the song before taking a minute to take off his shirt and clean up. The band finished their set with “Skate to Hate,” “Let’s Drink Some Beer,” and “Alcohol,” the three songs the band is best known for. Apart from the vomit incident, the band played a tight and solid set.
After Gang Green, Springa returned to the stage to introduce Jerry’s Kids. They performed a number of songs from their Xclaim full length Is This My World?, among them their opener “I Don’t Belong,” “Crucify Me,” “Raise the Curtain,” and the title track from the LP. They also played “Straight Jacket,” from the This is Boston Not LA comp, and “Machine Gun,” from the Unsafe at Any Speed comp. The band played a good set, despite technical difficulties with the vocals cutting out. Singer/guitarist Rick Jones and the rest of the band soldiered through these difficulties, and the crowd didn’t seem too concerned, making up for the missing vocals with their own.
After Jerry’s Kids were The FU’s, featuring the original lineup of the band. A quick word of greeting from vocalist John “Sox” Stocking, and they were off. They opened with “Warlords,” the first track off of Do We Really Want to Hurt You?, and on into “Daisy Chain,” “Peer Police,” and “T Sux,” from Kill For Christ.
They played one of the tightest sets of the night, with songs flowing into one another nonstop for nearly an hour — hearing these guys blaze through their songs, you would swear it was 1983 again, not 2010. The band mixed two songs into their set from their days as the metal band Straw Dogs (“Trigger Finger” and “Ridin’ the Range”) and closed their epic set with “Me Generation.” While it might be wishful thinking, I hope this isn’t the last we’ve seen of them.
After the FU’s amazing set, it was finally time for DYS. Dicky Barrett of The Mighty Mighty Bosstones — whose first band Impact Unit was part of the original “Boston Crew” — came onstage to introduce the band. Dave Smalley took the mic from Barrett and thanked everyone for sticking around, and the band went right into “More Than Fashion.” Regardless of what Jack Kelly or anyone else might think, Smalley sang the song with a straight face. During a break, Smalley discussed the historic rivalry between Boston and New York City in the ’80s and declared it dead as a lead-in to introducing the next song, “City to City.”
After “Which Side Am I,” the band took another break and Smalley introduced the next song, “Brotherhood”:
“By ‘Brotherhood,’ I don’t mean to exclude all my friends who are girls, all the girls that helped build this scene,” said Smalley. “This is about brotherhood in your heart, helping your friends, staying true to your brothers, getting into it, and staying through thick and thin.”
Later, the band surprised the audience with a cover of Motorhead’s “Road Crew,” and as the song finished, drummer Jack Clark kept playing a slow beat.
“You know what this song is, you know what this song is about,” stated Smalley. “From 1981 to 2010, we fucking meant it then, we fucking mean it now, this is ‘The Wolfpack.’”
There wasn’t a closed mouth in the audience — everyone sang along. When they reached the chorus, Springa, Shawn Refuse, and a number of others from the bands and the crowd swarmed the stage to sing along. As the song wound down, Smalley thanked the crowd, and with one final chorus DYS brought the song — and the show — to a close.
As DYS shook hands with people and left the stage after their set, Springa had parting words for everyone. He took the mic, and loosely paraphrased, said: “We’ve gotta give credit for all of this to Al Barile. He started this, and none of us would be here today if it weren’t for him.” It was a touching moment, considering he and Barille are not exactly on the best of terms, and a fitting close to the night’s excitement.