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A Big Debacle

Skull Fest is a huge punk festival in Pittsburgh. This year it happened from Thursday, August 17th to Sunday, August 20th. I didn't go to Skull Fest. The only time I have gone to Skull Fest was when I was volunteering at Roboto and had to watch the sound for one of the shows. That show was kind of goofy because there was a band of little kids, the kids of various older punks. It was amusing. Anyway, I did actually want to go this year, but the cost of the shows outweighed my desire to go to any of them, which was mostly based on seeing friends. Instead, on August 18th, I went to this show at Howlers.

There were only two bands at this show. The first band was Space Debacle, a two-piece post-punk/noise band. Their only instruments are a guitar, theremin, and drum machine, in addition to vocals. Their set was plagued with technical problems due to broken/lost equipment. That's not really a big deal for me - it shows the struggle. I like seeing a band that could fall apart at any moment, one step from the edge, energized by disaster. Of course that's more of the rock way, Neil Young and Dead Boys and whatever. This was more like a forgotten post-punk single found decades after being recorded somewhere outside London on a small cassette player at home and pressed to vinyl in small numbers, later to be found on a Messthetics compilation. Dani's singing and Hunter's guitar playing were very good; the theremin seemed to have some issues (I suspect it was some interference in the room). Space Debacle's songs dealt with the hypocrisy of certain safe spaces, abuse, mental health, and bad parents. "If you don't love me the terrorists win, so you better let me cum in your mouth". "Drink the Hate Water" was a list of ways we hurt ourselves, which I felt personally connected to, and "Hamburger Dad" was about toxic masculinity in a funny way. All the songs had serious topics with a sort of playful/surreal/humorous aspect to them. The last song was awesome, a future classic for sure.

There was a huge gap of time between the two sets; Big Splash was having their own technical issues. In the mean time, we got to listen to DJ Purr Ubu, who played some really great songs, many of which I knew, such as The Jam's "Going Underground". She also had some really cool Italo disco stuff that I had never heard before. Later we talked about what defines "night musick" and "day musick".

After some mic issues, a broken guitar strap, and whatever else, Big Splash exploded - wow they were loud (but actually not too loud)! Compared with the queer and weird Space Debacle (awesome name!), Big Splash is the traditional rock band of four guys on guitar, guitar, bass, and drums. They sound like Dinosaur Jr, Andrew as a hoarser J Mascis, his hair falling around him just the same. Later, Dan, the bass player told us to "stick to the road" in the last song. This song was more poppy and driving, some of the others mired in sludge, but all the songs were great.

Though I almost reconsidered going to this show, it was really cool. The musick between the sets was great, and I had not seen either of these awesome bands before! Big Splash seems to have a lot of stuff coming up, and I plan to see them at some point soon. I hope Space Debacle plays again soon too. Be on the lookout for these sick bands!