D.R.I. Stokes a Thirsty Crowd of Thrash Maniacs

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D.R.I., Owl Witch, Thraxis, Gallion, Legion Scout Bar December 5, 2014

While some of Texas' latest and greatest hardcore bands whipped up sweaty mayhem downtown at Fallcore on Friday, a couple of Houston's earliest and most crucial practitioners of the style were proving they can still rip it up with the best of them. D.R.I., those salty, speedy veterans of bygone Houston haunts like the OMNI and the Island, turned Scout Bar into their own personal thrash zone, replete with all of the circle pits, stage dives and domestic beers that that implies.

A small army of local speed freaks were on hand to help pay tribute to the local legends from the long-haired side of the punk/metal divide. Legion, Gallion and Thraxis had heads banging early and often on the evening as the crowd continued to file in off the foggy streets of Clear Lake. Visibility inside Scout Bar wasn't a heck of a lot better, with Owl Witch's powerful smoke machines turning the stage into a smoggy and mysterious realm for their blistering set.

All the smoke and skulls proved a good fit for Owl Witch's classic thrash sound. During a nimble shred solo by guitarist/vocalist Venom on his angular BC Rich, I found myself flattened by some metal maniac up front. Knocked the wind right out of me, and the Newcastle out of my hand. If you're going to thrash with the big boys, folks, remember to keep your head on a swivel.

I resolved not to make the same mistake during D.R.I. It was easy to see by the way fans were psyching themselves up to Slayer's "South of Heaven" while the stage was flipped that things were about to get nuts. A lot of the older and more sedate fans ceded the floor, nudging toward the margins of the large room and doing their best to stay out of the moshers' way.

When the headliners plugged in, of course, vocalist Kurt Brecht did his best to ensure that the move was futile. Wearing a well-received T-shirt that read "Fuck You, We're From Texas," Brecht appealed to the crowd's pride in inciting them to slam.

"Let's get this little pit going," he exhorted. "Thrash hard!"

The crazed audience needed no further invitation. A perpetual mosh pit exploded, full of die-hards young and old circling furiously to well-loved tunes like "Thrashard" and "How to Act." Brecht's barking seemed to surf Spike Cassidy's streetwise shredding like a concrete wave, effortlessly churning the floor into well-practiced chaos.

"I want to see you fucking killing each other out there!" the singer shouted, and it was easy to believe him.

The less reckless fans in attendance contented themselves with a little head-banging, instead, happy to remain alive long enough for a chance to buy the new music D.R.I. promised would arrive next year. The band was kind enough to try out a couple of new ones on Friday night. "As Seen on TV" sounded like vintage D.R.I.: whipping thrash that you can really grind a deck to.

Story continues on the next page.

Old songs and new delivered a mosh-ready crunch that has been honed over 1,000 tours. As the band tore through more material from the '80s and '90s, stage divers were caught in mid-air and carried around the pit as somebody screamed "Faster! Faster!" at the top of his lungs. The battered folks up front began to look a little dazed as D.R.I. rolled out short burst after short burst of hardcore fury.

By the time they ripped into "Manifest Destiny" and "Beneath the Wheel," I wasn't feeling completely healthy mentally, myself. Part of that was the blow to the head, sure, but 30 years on, and Houston's gnarliest hardcore export still has the chops to methodically wear down a packed house with sheer speed and adrenaline. As the sweaty hordes finally stumbled forth into the cool night air, they seemed just as proud of their fresh bruises as they were of their vintage D.R.I. T-shirts.

Personal Bias: Dealing with it.

The Crowd: White and Hispanic thrashing maniacs.

Overheard In the Crowd: "FASTER!"

Random Notebook Dump: More than a few skankers were delayed from arrival by the ever-present construction on I-45. Like D.R.I., some things in Houston will never change.


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