Hot Water Music, Leatherface, Discount
Bluebird Theater; Denver, Colorado
Saturday, May 29, 1999

For whatever reason, I find myself riddled with cynicism whenever I find myself standing inside a room that's housing a "punk rock" show - you know, the kind that seems to attract high-schoolers and the hip-to-the-underground types in abundance. I sti ll go to these shows all the time, but I always feel as if I'm attending some sort of ritual: I continue to go because I somehow feel like I need to and it also seems as if I'm waiting and watching as another nail is being driven into a coffin. And soone r or later, that coffin is going to be sealed damn tight and ready to be buried. This was one of the few shows (in this state anyway) where I looked around absolutely surprised that this room was packed full because I was shocked that this many people kn ew who these bands even were. ¶ The show actually started (and ended) quite early (especially considering the late rock n' roll time Colorado clubs seem to abide by). I missed Discount because I was sitting in a kitchen a few blocks away, chatting with a friend. Discount, though, I had seen before so I knew just what I missed - which actually isn't a good thing, because I know I missed a good live show. When talking about bands a lot of people (especially label press people) will say: "But have you seen them live?". As if seeing this band on stage is going to absolutely blow your mind and make you decide that this band is some sort of amazing group. When, in actuality, watching most bands is more like having my brain drilled into with a dull object. But Discount - like J Church or Avail, bands that they get compared to - possess something that really carries over live. And whether you love them or hate them, you have to enjoy standing there and watching them. ¶ I arrived during Leatherface's set, though probably right at the beginning of it. Having only been vaguely familiar with their recorded output beforehand, I was entering with little to go on. The impression they left: so-so. Not bad, but certainly not great; just fairly standard melodic punk done fairly well. There wasn't a whole lot to be amazed by live, although watching the singer/guitarist bumble around, dancing a little foot jig, was amusing. He was an older, bigger fellow that sort of had that scruffy Shane MacGowan look. The b ass player was the only other one of the four worth watching - he wore a smile the whole time and had an interesting lurching-stance way of playing. (Coincidentally, the both of them were wearing cowboy hats, which for some reason probably added to the a musement of watching them both). ¶ Hot Water Music had the closing slot - and they certainly sealed the show off well. The only other time I'd ever seen them was probably four years earlier when they played in the living room of a house that I was brief ly living in and only about five people showed up. So, it was really just their friends and my housemates watching. Since then, Hot Water Music has come a long way - while their music hasn't changed drastically, it has gotten better and their popularity has nearly skyrocketed. Pinpointing their sound is hard - it's a cross-section of melodic hardcore, energetic punk, and straightforward rock. The kind of music that can appeal to nearly everyone - from straight-edge kids to pop-punks to emo-kids to alt erna-rockers - which is rare and always great to see. Hot Water Music, simply, are a powerful live band. Their live show is four guys giving their all. And the crowd really seemed to love them - not only were the kids trying to do their little mosh thi ng but a surprising number were singing along (and, by the end, pulling the mic down from the stage). Hot Water Music have certainly been around, and paid their dues, and they haven't forgotten what being a good live band is all about.

- Andrew Bottomley




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