GBA, The Hybrid, The Vroloks – November 21st, 2003 @ Greencastle Indiana (JMcQ)

After a great amount of putzing around on my part, Gabe and Ben from The Vroloks were able to get together a show with another student organization. Learning about it a few days before it was supposed to happen, we ended up plastering it all over my show. The interesting thing about my radio show the night before the concert was the fast that at one point, we had 14 people in the studio. I got a whole lot of shit about it, because all and all I had violated three major laws of my campus station – the number of people in the studio, the fact that a kid had food in the booth, and the fact that we used “asshole” in one of the tracks that I played. We had given out about 10 or so reminders about the show, we being The Hybrid, and I left the show frightened about whether or not my show was going to be cancelled. I was able to discuss things with my bosses at the station, and everything was okay (for now – I had to pay a $25 fine for the food, but I’m still waiting on whether my show is picked up for another semester).

So, I got done with my classes relatively early and I spent most of the time (after napping) getting read for the show. I actually got my fat ass off my bed and put my hair up, and put on my 50’s pants. Walking over to the show, I grabbed a stack of those campus newspapers that had a description of the local bands that were playing the show, written by yours truly. Getting to East College at about 7 P.M., I saw a few kids I knew patrolling the two staircases, in order for the bands to have a sound check. Nonetheless, I told some young admirers of the band about the elevator, and they snuck up on that. I finally came up the stairs about 7:20, and still had to wait until 7:45 for anything to start. The first thing that I really noticed about the crowd in Meherry Hall, an old chapel, was the sheer amount of people that were there. At times nearly 75 people squeezed into the space between the stage and the pews, almost as many as I have ever seen in a Greencastle-led show. Leading the show off was GBA, Guilty By Association, one of the younger bands in town.

GBA’s version of “Another Clone”, as compared with the version they performed on my show a few weeks before that, is a much stronger version than before. The vocals of Justin are not just laid out above all the constituent instruments, even if the guitar is a little bland in the transition from WGRE to live setting. Moving on to “Makes Me Sick”, the band’s one acoustic track, sees Dustin (the drummer) take on the guitar for this strummy instrumental. Where Justin’s vocals were at an adequate level during “Another Clone”, they are nary to be heard during “Makes Me Sick”, to a degree that I have to try to stretch to hear anything in the way of intelligible speech.

The second half of GBA’s set starts off with “Waking The Dead”, a song with a strong bass line, a bass line that Jon does have some problems in keeping with. At points, Justin’s vocals are half-heartedly sung – this overall ennui from the band ends up climaxing in Jon’s chucking of eir’s broken bass about 30 feet into the pews. After that spectacle, GBA finishes off with a pretty solid version of The Misfits’ “Some Kind of Hate”, excepting the second half of the song when Jon decides to just fuck around on the bass. The resulting action, where Dustin would throw a drumstick at Jon to stop his fucking around, would be a key reason for the later quitting/booting (depending on who you are talking to) of Dustin from GBA.

Spending a decent amount of time with the tear down required of GBA, even though the same drum kit was used the entire night, I walked around and was greeted by a number of other people who I had no clue of their identity. Finally, though, The Hybrid took the stage – while having one major problem dog them for the vast majority of the show, being that J.J.’s voice was not to be intelligible for most of the show, due to a minor error in the sound setup. Needless to say, I couldn’t pick out any of the vocals over the drone of the guitars, utterly disguising some of the tracks for me. Anyways, “Better Days” brings together an incredible amount of people to the mosh pit – at this time, being about twenty deep, even if the song does tend to go a little too long for catchiness’ sake. Moving onto their cover of the Pennywise classic “Same Old Story”, The Hybrid blast through this, fighting the same problems of lackadaisical vocal levels.

Throughout all these minor problems, The Hybrid played on, covering Screeching Weasel’s “Hey Suburbia” to a t, as well as Bad Religion’s “American Jesus” to an utterly un-moved (except for those who moshed) crowd. After doing their own version of the classic Johnny Cash track “Ring of Fire”, which meshed together both the original and Social Distortion versions, The Hybrid drug Gabe Wallace (The Vroloks) on stage to do a tandem of Misfits songs, “Halloween” and “Skulls”. Needless to say, The Hybrid can really do a decent set of covers to get the crowd worked up into a frenzy – however, I would like to see them approach more in the way of original songs before I pass my final judgement on them.

And as I don’t want to pass a final judgement on The Hybrid, neither do I want to with The Vroloks. For those who didn’t know, The Vroloks, this night, were primarily a Misfits cover band (reaching outside their comfort zone to pay a Samhain track), but this was only due to the fact that Gabe [the lead singer] had lost his voice during the set. While I won’t bore anyone with a discussion about how cover bands are good or bad or other bands that might have been more influential than the Misfits, the fact is that The Vroloks do the whole musical part of The Misfits well. On stage, however, The Vroloks are utterly limp. Gabe stands on the stage like a statue, and even if he has his skull gloves on, whatever amount of Danzig-like crooning he can do is negated by his lack of movement. While I was able to hear The Vroloks considerably better than The Hybrid on all accounts, I still could only place a few songs with their originals – something the fact that I am not all that familiar with pre-Graves Misfits stuff would feed into. Opening up their set with “Last Caress”, The Vroloks put on a pretty strong stance, only having something slightly dissonant in the guitar lines filling this track. During “Where Eagles Dare”, Gabe puts up some decent vocals, only marred slightly by a few gaffes, while the guitars a tad on the bland/repetitive axis of things.

While it is easy to just assume that it was purely the members of The Vroloks up there belting these songs, one must know that both J.J. and Mark (from The Hybrid) were either cheerleading or singing back-up during a lot of these tracks. Covering some of the other tracks that the prior two bands had earlier in the night, The Vroloks busted through Halloween and Some Kind of Hate, with little deviation from the first time we had heard them previously that night.

So, I had heard three bands that I hadn’t heard (with the exception of GBA playing a few songs on my show previously and The Hybrid’s “Demo Days”), and I was exposed to a lot of different styles of playing and making melody. The Greencastle scene is in its infantile state right now, where individuals are joining up bands mostly based on covers. These bands, most notably The Vroloks and The Hybrid, have a great deal of talent to them, but their true talent will not be recognized until they start covering less and writing more originals. Time will only tell where these kids will go with their bands – I can only hope that a greater amount of originals are written, with covers coming from lesser bands in the punk rock chronology.

Author: James McQuiston

Ph.D. in Political Science, Kent State University. I have been the editor at NeuFutur / neufutur.com since I was 15. Looking for new staff members all the time; email me if you are interested. Thanks!

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