Pheromones and Dopamines both play rad sets that rattled my happy brain waves. I notice a few faces I don’t recognize, and the crowd seems to be even with representatives from Athens and Columbus. Fairfield natives John Walsh opens their set, and immediately I’m impressed: extremely fast melodic hardcore with twinges of ‘90s pop-punk.
Thrash? Don’t mind if I do!
The Brown Town basement shifts into a punk rock dance floor. Friends good-naturedly grab each other in football lines and mosh. The chick in front of me leans forward and shakes her appendages while simultaneously raking her metal claws in the air. Another girl seems to experience spasms in her legs and shrugs her shoulders to her ears, all the while manically shaking invisible cans of Cool Whip in her fists. John Walsh’s singer theatrically grabs his chest and crashes into a friend. The two tumble to the floor and the singer finishes the verse on his back before leaping to his feet. He’s generous with mic grabs on the originals which results in a duet in the final chorus of their anthem “Closing the Gap!”
John Walsh rips into “I’m in Love!” a breakdown-laden slow jam in which the band professes its contentment with sobriety. The band prompts audience members to engage in a “hug pit” during the next song. They play “Hugs!” an ode to embracing, and a dozen-person mosh wheel commences to spin about the basement. The group’s participatory, inviting demeanor spawned a kind of crowd command.
John Walsh embodies characteristics common to punk-derived genres: pop-punk style guitar and drum lines adjacent hardcore breakdowns and sing-a-longs. Modern punk and hardcore bands tend to direct great thematic focus on isolation, anger and other forms of emotional turmoil. John Walsh keeps hardcore vocal style but its lyrics promote a positive perspective and embrace punk community members as friends. And still promotes pits. Pits filled with high-fives.
It’s been awhile since I’ve attended a punk show in which I didn’t witness individuals display attitude, unnecessary violence and excessive drinking. This show proved to me, though, that people can still form communities with integrity. The patrons and bands that played last night demonstrated real commitment to creating a participatory, comfortable atmosphere. The sky poured down snow. Brown Town doesn’t allow booze. It was a Saturday night. All of the preceding function as deterrents for show attendance, yet the basement was comfortably packed with people who care about their community.
-Dani Purcell, Senior Writer