In his Day 1 coverage of Obscene Extreme America, my esteemed colleague Paul Ablaze provided a brief history lesson of OEF’s Czech roots. However, to truly understand Obscene Extreme’s refreshingly unique, ultra-egalitarian, freak-friendly vibe, one need hear a bit about the man responsible for the conception and continuation of one of extreme music’s most important DIY festivals. Since creating the first Obscene Extreme festival in his native Czech Republic as a way to celebrate his birthday in 1999, Miloslav “Curby” Urbanec has been a tireless champion of extreme music. The hallmarks of OEF – fair prices, amazing bands, a fan-friendly atmosphere, and every band getting the same great treatment- are born out of Curby’s unbridled passion for the music he loves. In short, Curby is one of the coolest, most sincere motherfuckers I have had the privilege to meet. (Check out my interview with him here).
Oh, he also gave my band a spot on the festival, so I won’t hold it against you if you take my assessment of the man with a grain of salt.
On that note, by some stroke of hilarious cosmic misalignment, Talk-Sick was given the opening noon slot for Friday’s show at the Telus Theatre. The venue is a massive, beautiful space; certainly the nicest place my shitty band has ever had the privilege to play. Concurrent with the OEF philosophy regarding bands receiving equal treatment, the stage set up was incredibly professional, replete with top of the line gear, a spectacular Obscene Extreme backdrop, and a team of awesome sound techs.
At noon sharp, we blasted through a quick set to the 30-odd eager beavers who showed up right when the doors opened. As I am loathe to truly review myself, I’ll say our performance was akin to your first few college sexual experiences; fifteen sweaty minutes, at the end of which at least one person had a great time, but someone else was most certainly disappointed. Also, there is cum everywhere.
After a trip backstage to stash my gear and down a few well-earned brews, I returned to the main area to take in some of our fellow early bird acts. Toronto’s Homolka delivered some furious grind that was awash in noise overlay. Locals RetardNation‘s mishmash of grind, hardcore and metal was highly enjoyable. Lead singer Amélie’s vast vocal range was impressive and complimented the band’s varied style.
I’d met Windsor, Ontario’s Corrupt Leaders backstage, and as they were super nice dudes I was looking forward to catching their set. The band kicked things off with a sludgy down tempo riff that quickly gave way to more speedy fare. After some early shakiness, the band locked into a good groove blasting out grindy, blackened hardcore reminiscent of Young and In The Way.
At the point, the crowd had started to fill out a bit. It was also nice to see a number of costumed individuals (silly costumes are an OEF tradition). At one point, we had a pig, two horses, a nurse, a banana, and a crusty in hockey pads. As well, a constant barrage of beach balls bounced around the crowd. I dig this sort of thing as it highlights the inherent silliness of grindcore, which is a welcome shift in tone from the oftentimes over serious nature of punk, hardcore, and metal shows.
While I was still drained from playing and desperately looking forward to a beer/pee/nap break, I didn’t want to miss Quebec’s Soil of Ignorance. I’ve seen these guys a handful of times, but usually at venues with shitty or non-existent sound systems. The set was lightening fast, super tight, and the mic set up, which had the two guitarists/vocalists facing each other, gave a cool visual element to the bands frenetic back and forth grind/powerviolence attack.
I stuck around to catch both Powercup, who cemented their status as the best renovation-themed grindcore band ever, and New Brunswick’s Hard Charger, a D-beat crust ‘n roll group with killer riffs, gnarly guitar solos, and excellent vocal harmonies, before retreating backstage for the aforementioned pee/beer/nap break (I know, I’m old. Fuck off).
I returned to the main room, catching the last bit of old school 80s thrash outfit Aggression‘s set while hitting the bar to refuel my drink before Texas’.P.L.F. took the stage. Paul already covered this two-piece grind act in his day one coverage and, similar to Thursday’s performance, P.L.F completely leveled the joint. To say I was completely blown away would be an understatement, particularly by the drummer, whose performance was so ludicrously fast and technical I videotaped it in order to relive the goddamn supernatural blood magic I had just witnessed.
Disregarding the pain of the inevitable tetanus injection, I decided to leave my jaw on the floor for Canadian grindcore heroes Fuck The Facts. The crowd clearly shared my excitement, swelling in both size and intensity as FTF ripped into their set. To me, FTF represent a high watermark of creativity within the grind genre: the songs are complex and multifaceted while remaining catchy and intense. Lead singer Mel’s performance was as vocally solid as it was visceral and energetic. The set included a few songs from Fuck The Fact’s new album Desire Will Rot. Take a break from reading this review to go buy this record. It’s cool, I’ll wait.
After their set, I ended up having a great conversation with Mel, bassist Marc, and guitarist Topon about raising children. Mel and Topon have a young daughter, so as relatively new parent myself (I have a five-month old at home, hence the need for naps. Fuck off.), it was great to get their insights. Truly nice people!
I made it back to the main floor in time to catch Belgian grindcore legends Agathocles, a group known equally for their influence on the grind genre as well as the sheer volume of releases the band has put out of the course of their 30-year career (the number of split EP’s allegedly numbers into the hundreds). The group was in fine form and the crowd was clearly stoked to be witnessing Agathocles’ first North American appearance.
Speaking of firsts, Exhumed front man Matt Harvey’s cool new side project Gruesome were taking the stage to play their very first show. Gruesome was born out of Harvey and drummer Gus Rios’ mutual involvement in the Death To All tribute tours, honouring late DEATH front man Chuck Schuldiner and their love for the early DEATH records. The band’s sound is unsurprisingly rooted in classic Florida death metal: oppressively heavy riffs that sound like they’ve crawled out of some fetid swamp, blistering solos, and groovy slow sections that compel even the most jaded to bang their heads. The group played through their debut album Savage Land as well as a great cover of the classic DEATH tune “Scream Bloody Gore.”
The crowd was starting to thin as Martin Schirenc’s reformed version of 80s Austrian gore metal act Pungent Stench took the stage, but the remaining crowd was treated to a selection of classic tunes.
I was pretty beat at this point, and knowing I had another full day of grind madness ahead of me I elected to skip the final sets from Abdicate and Hidden Pride. Sorry dudes, as previously mentioned, I’m old. Fuck off.
Stay Tuned for Day 3 coverage!
Written by Jesse Gainer
Photography by Hugues Bouchard
*edited by Kate Erickson