Tomorrow’s Off! show at Grand Central in Miami is pretty much a hardcore history nerd’s dream. Of course, the headliners themselves boast impressive credentials. Frontman Keith Morris, of course, did time in the iconic Circle Jerks as well as Black Flag, and former bands from the rest of the members include Burning Brides, Redd Kross, Rocket From the Crypt, and Hot Snakes.
But let’s get equally excited about the next-biggest supporting act on the bill, Detroit’s Negative Approach. The group lacks the hip PR services and semi-mainstream blogosphere hype that Off! enjoys, but arguably left as much of an imprint on hardcore’s development as Morris and company’s old projects.
From the beginning, this outfit enjoyed a sort of maverick status, even within a larger musical scene of mavericks and misfits, just by virtue of geography. In the early ’80s, the most celebrated punk rock and proto-hardcore acts clustered on the coasts, but Negative Approach proudly repped Detroit.
That’s not to say the Motor City didn’t have a proud tradition of loud ‘n’ fast rock and roll already, though. Unsurprisingly, it was the Stooges that provided the first sparks of inspiration for John Brannon, one of Negative Approach’s co-founders and its frontman to this day. Much of Stooges guitarist Ron Ashton’s loose, distorted, almost painful chord-strumming shows up in their early songs. At the same time, though, the group drew from a decidedly un-American thread of the genre, that of English street-punk bands like the 4-Skins. Those acts traded technical skill and all extraneous flourishes for breakneck tempos and simple, yell-able, urgent lyrics.
What Negative Approach achieved was to synthesize all of that into a furious form that favored a, shall we say, concise approach. Fumble too long with a pair of headphones, for instance, and you might miss an entire song. Much like with peers Minor Threat, a large chunk of the group’s songs click in at well under a minute and a half, or sometimes even under a minute. Nearly all of them come with the kind of spastic choruses and gang-style vocals that persist in hardcore to this day. Get properly schooled tomorrow at Grand Central.
Negative Approach. With Off! and Double Negative. 8 p.m. Wednesday, September 26 at Grand Central, 697 N. Miami Ave., Miami. Tickets cost $15 in advance; $18 at the door; all ages. Call 305-377-2277, or visit grandcentralmiami.com