When was the last time you saw a punk rock show in Hawaii? Some say it was when Bad Brains did a mini-tour of the islands back in 2008. Well, thanks to HI Tide Nation’s Matt Laundrie, the drought is over. He brought Canada’s legendary D.O.A. to the Hilo Town Tavern last Saturday on a triple bill with local boy’s El Sancho and the power duo The Cutthroat Brothers.
Saturday’s show was not only an opportunity to see some great punk rock bands, but fans got to act out some pent-up ‘80s pit moshing. In this case, it was relegated to a few guys, alcohol-fueled, ready to slam into each other and those in their way. The “dance,” if you recall, is driven by the band’s rapid-fire tempo, while audience members bang into each other like human bumper cars. Moshing usually happens in the center of the crowd, generally closer to the stage in an area called the pit.
It became nerve-wracking to watch as record-level rain began to pool in the tent covering the stage area. When the pool reached capacity, the water rapidly cascaded over the sides causing sizable puddles of water in the dimly lit pit which eventually flowed passed the stage to the street. Thankfully no one was hurt or shocked by the cords or plugs around the stage.
The show opened with El Sancho, a high energy punk band based in Waikoloa Village. Their frantic paced set included a few covers, but mostly original material from their brand new self-titled release. Alan Kasameyer and Jose Colmenares play guitar – Colmenares on lead. Nate Werneck is on bass, and Tony Joyce on drums. All four split vocals when performing live. Joyce deserves a special award for not only his manic drumming, but according to Kasameyer, he broke his hand when comedian Pauly Shore high-fived him at a recent show at the Kahilu Theatre.
El Sancho began in 2018, playing backyard parties and community events. They hope to add further Big Island gigs this year. There are only three other punk bands here on the island (that we know about!), and it’s rare to catch a punk show at an established venue.
The Cutthroat Brothers
The Cutthroat Brothers are a hardcore garage rock duo who don blood-spattered white smocks. They’ve been fittingly dubbed “the Sweeney Todds of rock,” and feature Jason Cutthroat on guitar and vocals, and Donny Paycheck on drums. These demon barbers with razor-sharp riffs have been ripping up the Pacific Northwest since February of 2018.
They’re real-life barbers too! Paycheck “cuts heads” at the Supernova Barbershop in Tacoma, Washington, and has no less than eleven albums under his belt. Jason and Donny initially got acquainted in the Pacific Northwest rock scene playing in local bands. They met years later, after Jason traded Washington for the Big Island. Initially, they bonded over a love for the Big Island as Donny visited Hawaii regularly. Their self-titled debut release came out in October 2018 on Digital Warfare Records.
At their Big Island debut show, Jason split the signal from his vintage Kawai “Hound Dog Taylor” guitar between an SWR bass amp and a Marshall guitar amp, giving it a full growling sound when he used his slide. The first few strums were sweet and deafening. “Can you hear the guitar yet?,” he jokingly asked the crowd with a possessed gleam in his eyes. I checked; you could hear the band more than a block away.
Paycheck’s Gatling machine gun drum fills are the perfect component to his brother’s revved up roar. It’s worth checking out their well-produced music videos to get a better sense of their image and sound – the outdoor acoustics at The Tavern were probably not the best venue for them, but the crowd loved them.
In his introduction, promoter Matt Laundrie mentioned that in 2003 he started promoting shows in Victoria, B.C., including D.O.A. and they were the band that encouraged him to stay in the business. Fast forward 17 years, he’s still at it, and so is D.O.A.
Often referred to as the “founders” of hardcore punk, D.O.A.’s second album Hardcore 81 was recently named as one of Canada’s Top Albums of All Time (all genres included). While their hair’s a little grayer now, they still pound out that primal distortion at an insane speed.
Joey “Shithead” Keithley’s guitar sound is hellish, and bassist Mike Hodsall leaped in the air like a chicken dancing on a hot skillet. Drummer Paddy Duddy propelled the band with raucous percussion. It’s a rare treat to hear such music played with purpose. Their set was a combination of fan favorites, and a few covers like Edwin Starr’s “War” and Bachman–Turner Overdrive’s 1973 hit “Takin’ Care of Business.”
The punk legends headed over to Honolulu on Sunday for the final leg of their Hawaiian tour before heading back to Canada. Let’s hope it’s not another 12 years before we get a great punk rock show like Saturday’s.
Island Fever | Selfie Mom | Julie | Never Listen | Pretty Fucked Up | Good Livin’ | Checking Out |Permanent Record | Astro Zombies | Boutique Hotel | Great White Shark | Born With A Tail |
The Cutthroat Brothers
Oceans of Fire | Shake Move Howl Kill | Potions & Powders | Snake Breath | Wrong | Medicine | Taste For Evil | Kill 4 U | The King Is Dead | Psykik Chemist |
The Enemy | Class War | You Need An Ass Kickin’ Right Now | World War 3 | 2 + 2 | Already Dead | Gonna Set You Straight | Taking Care Of Business | Waiting For You | I’m Right, You’re Wrong | Race Riot | Hey, Hey, Get Out Of My Way | D.O.A. | War | The Prisoner |
Read my interview with Joey Keithley here.
Steve Roby is a music journalist, an L.A. Times bestselling author, and a Big Island filmmaker. He’s been featured in the NY Times, Rolling Stone, and Billboard Magazine. Roby is also the Managing Editor of Big Island Music Magazine.
Photos: Steve Roby