Rarely do I end up at DIY house shows or in the town of Olympia, but I took a gamble to see the almightly Algernon Cadwallader on their first West Coast tour, and it was a night to remember. Just the act of getting to this was even a challenge, as the initial house putting on the show was “shut down” and the show was then combined with a punk show already happening that night. Making my way to the new location, it became clear exactly why the house was given its name. There was at least a quarter mile of muddy road — complete with planks over massive puddles — leading up to the house, which was packed to the gills with people. With six bands, over 200 people, and only one point of entry/exit, this was the most taxing show the bands and fans had most likely ever attended.

The Swamp Haus
Olympia, WA
2011 – 01/15

Outlook

Local band Outlook played first with its fairly generic brand of hardcore bordering on metal. The band was definitely the odd band out as this was much more of a punk bill, but it held the crowd’s attention for its twenty-minute set. Pink Nightmare, a collection of ladies from Boston, MA, followed, with the help of a few members of Foreign Objects, playing a set of Discharge-esque jams. At this point in the night, it was almost impossible to move and/or breathe in the house, and I practically passed out, only to be revived by the killer set put on by Olympia band, RVIVR.

RVIVR

RVIVR’s brand of hyper-melodic punk was one of the most well-received I have ever seen. The crowd exploded, and it was a miracle that the house was still standing after the brutal 30-minute pounding it received. I wouldn’t be surprised if Fat Wreck Chords or Epitaph or No Idea picks these guys up soon, so expect big things from RVIVR in 2011.

Big Kids

Big Kids from Oakland, CA took the living room next and whipped through a quick set of guitar-heavy punk rock. While the band put on a fairly good show, I was more impressed with its most recent album, Hoop Dreams, than I was with its live set. That could have been because much of the sound was too muddy to be able to really catch the guitar interplay clearly.

Algernon Cadwallader

Then, finally, Algernon Cadwallader lugged its gear into the house and prepared to put on the best set of the night.

Made up of Peter Helmis on bass and vocals, Tank Burgman on drums, and Joe Reinhart on guitar, Algernon Cadwallader sounds an awful lot like what you would get if you crossed the raw energy and vocals of Cap ‘N Jazz with the guitar work found in bands like American Football. Whipping through songs from its full-length self-titled album along with a few from its first demo, the band perfectly executed its crazy guitar lines, complex rhythm changes, and Tim Kinsella-esque wails. “Serial Killer Status” and “Katie’s Conscience” had the crowd singing along to every word, and after only about 30 minutes, Algernon Cadwaller was done and left the crowd hungry for more. Talking to Peter before the show, I found out that the band will be back on the West Coast this summer with Snowing and 1994, as a part of a full US tour, so those hungry fans won’t have to wait too long.

Everyone left the house covered in sweat and mud, most likely needing a good three-hour bath and some bleach to get fully cleaned — but very satisfied nonetheless. Kudos to the kids in Olympia for putting on the most successful house show I have ever seen.

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