Soda Bar was host to a shindig on Thursday April 19, thrown in honor of Cave Bastard’s much-anticipated release, The Bleak Shall Devour the Earth. The selection of supports were a mix of thrash and grindcore acts. While this combination initially seemed a little odd, the lineup choice made sense given the plethora of styles informing Cave Bastard’s work. The San Diego extreme metal quintet has been a stalwart of the local scene for the past few years, and the quality of the acts present to support them was testament to their impact.
Opening the show was Beekeeper, a female-fronted thrash act from San Diego. Beekeeper presented a simple, but effective approach. They brought an old-school style of thrash with engaging riff-work and minimal frills. The level of energy and intensity emanating from Ally Levine’s vocals was impressive, and Beekeeper’s musical style paired well with the dingy atmosphere of Soda Bar.
Changing the tone somewhat, Recalcitrant moved to claim the stage. For this LA grindcore act, the concert was the kick-off of a mini tour around the west coast and the south west. Their energy levels matched accordingly, and I found myself impressed by the fast-as-fuck (note: this is definitely a technical term) drums and the vocalist’s passion. Recalcitrant were enjoyable, though in an evening of stellar performances they emerged as less than memorable.
Continuing in the grindcore vein were LA’s Bad Acid Trip. In opposition to Recalcitrant, Bad Acid Trip were nothing if not memorable. They’ve been together for almost 30 years, and this translated into an impressive level of familiarity and comfort with the stage. The frontman, Dirk Rogers, acted out hilarious antics from start to finish, leaving a smile plastered on my face. Beyond antics, Dirk’s vocals were eccentric and engaging, with a whimsical tilt that gave a unique twist to Bad Acid Trip’s performance. There was a problem, however, in that the vocals were often drowned out by the rest of the instruments. This was less to do with Bad Acid Trip than Soda Bar’s soundperson, as this problem made itself increasingly apparent as the evening drew on. This was a glitch in my otherwise very positive impressions of Soda Bar.
Next on the stage was El Cajon’s Nukem, a four-piece act at the top of the San Diego thrash game. Nukem’s musicianship was tight, with some impressive guitarwork flowing from Steve Brogden and fellow guitarist Laura Christine. There was an ineffable sense of camaraderie between the band-members, lending the concert a degree of intimacy. Again, the muting of the vocals disappointingly took away from a lot of Nukem’s power and thrust, as Steve Brogden’s vocals – at least on recordings – add a lot of oomph to their sound and bring back images of classic thrash acts.
Heading and closing the show was San Diego’s death metal five-piece, Cave Bastard. I’d been looking forward to this gig for a while, especially excited about the first full-length release from this powerhouse band. Cave Bastard have emerged as my favorite act in the local scene for the originality of their sound and the passion of their performances. The lack of audible vocals was especially disappointing for this set as I have known Steve Pearce’s vocals to be rife with energy, with a diversity of styles and techniques far exceeding your typical extreme metal band. Despite this setback, Cave Bastard gave an impassioned performance, giving the impression of a full house as the five band-members piled onto Soda Bar’s stage.
If you missed this gig, you can get a taste of some of the magic by checking out Cave Bastard’s The Bleak Shall Devour the Earth.