Last Night: Valient Thorr and ASG at the Meridian

Valient Thorr, ASG
The Meridian
August 6, 2007

Better Than: Staring at your computer screen, repeatedly hitting the refresh button, in your cold and sterile bedroom.

Download: “Exit Strategy,” which puts any other anti-war song to somber, clean-shaven shame.

With beards of fury and manic stage dances, it’s very possible that Valient Thorr is the closest we will ever get to re-create the energy of those prime late-‘60s MC5 shows. For offspring of the ‘90s weaned on flash and gloom, to see a band with a plain-brown-bag conviction to rock must be life-changing.

Not until last night did I know Valient Thorr had such a young and rabidly militant fanbase. I saw kids with Sharpie-decorated homemade jean jackets and a group of guys, all barely 15 years old, lose their collective shit over a mere sound check. There’s a nation of “Thorriors” just like them all over the world – Imagine the lusty Turbojugend cult that writhes behind Oslo’s Turbonegro. Now, imagine that almost a whole generation removed.

Photos by Craig Hlavaty

Valient Thorr’s rare power cannot be denied. From the opening song, the band formed a symbiotic relationship with their audience, relentlessly pummeling them with sound. Lead singer Valient Himself is the Rob Tyner of this generation, whipping up a hot-headed frenzy and hectoring the crowd about social injustice, as some faithful became victims to the churning pit. “Exit Strategy” is the first anti-war song to cut to the core of the issue, without preaching on a non-existing platform like so many other bands these days.

Preceding Valient Thorr was Volcom tourmates ASG, throwing down towering riffs like a junior Kyuss. Each song was like a high-toned rocket burning through the atmosphere. This music is a soundtrack for leaving, not staying – Abandoning ship, and leaving the unlucky behind.

Critic's Notebook

Personal Bias: This music has served as my soundtrack for getting tattoos and drinking beer for about two years. Plus, any band that reps Alex Jones on their MySpace page is a little piece of alright.

Random Detail: Lead singer Valient Himself wears some sweet-ass wrestling boots.

By the way: Anytime you aim a camera at a group of teenagers at a thrash metal show, someone WILL give you the finger. – Craig Hlavaty