To say RETOX are a “super-group” would be something of an understatement.
The San Diego band are fronted by the somewhat legendary Justin Pearson (Some Girls, The Locust and the incredible Swing Kids to name a few) and featuring various members of the brilliant Three One G record label, and despite approaching 20 years on the scene show no signs of stopping yet.
Before them however, Glasgow’s Thin Privilege open the night, a relatively new noise/punk band born out of Salo and Hunt/Gather.
Rather than using guitars, TP’s style is to use two highly distorted bass guitars, accompanied by pounding drums and almost entirely screamed vocals.
And yet, they remain a surprisingly tuneful group.
Each bass serves an important purpose to structure songs upon; one has its second and fourth strings removed providing a deep, detuned low-end groove, while the other, five-string, unexpectedly acts more like a lead guitar, providing whatever little melody there is to be found here.
They are an impressive live force however, making an incredible racket without ever delving into self-indulgence, maintaining a tight rhythm section and interplay with high end.
Perhaps the most appropriate image of their set is when an empty glass falls off a nearby bench and shatters across the floor due to the sheer ferocity of TP’s rumbling sound.
It’s not hard to see RETOX‘s collective years of experience tonight.
Each member has been a part of a vital and very creative San Diego hardcore scene for so many years, that they seem completely effortless here.
And indeed, the band sound like a collection of all these heralded bands mashed together and run through a blender at a tremendous speed.
Retox are on fantastic form, ripping through songs in a fairly short but suitably sized set, with Pearson’s usual shy-guy-exploding act backed by an incredibly talented band.
Drummer Brian Evans is particularly impressive tonight, his jazz inflected punk drumming giving Zac Hill of Hella/Death Grips or Brian Cook of Lightning Bolt (or even Swing Kid’s own Jose Palafox), hitting his drums with astonishing force to carry the songs through their various movements and resulting in numerous broken sticks.
Ultimately, RETOX prove that despite the members’ individual ages, as a collective they can still write and rock out songs better than any new, young band, performing with real vigour and enrapturing the small gathered audience who crowd around them.
Words: Adam Turner-Heffer