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D.R.I: Stripping Away The Rust

Story and Photos: Brian Schmidt

Editor: Spencer Fleming

Since the beginning of the on-going pandemic, I’ve gone to a sum total of one single show. I had avoided large gatherings and stayed in my apartment the majority of the past two years.

For a brief glimmer of hope last summer, in between snot dribbling, brain numbing, particle spewing variants, I braved the public to attend a small local show to see my favorite local hunks in Witherfang.

While I was able to briefly reconnect with my roots, the pandemic had severed my connection with the fast, heavy, and aggressive forms of music that got me through my teenage years. So, when Spencer asked me to write for Stories from the Crowd, I was nervously enthusiastic.

COVID has taught me to be wary of large crowds of heavy breathing homo-sapiens, and stick to open spaces with fewer members of our disgusting virus ridden race. Alas, I miss the holy kickdrums, the warm embrace of the bass guitar’s soft rumblings of secrets undecipherable to the human ears, and the words of aggression which the guitars distort to the masses in tongues.

Reluctant, I looked for a show to cover, when I came across a listing for the D.R.I. and friends at the waiting room. While I had not been super acquainted with the San Francisco based crossover punk/thrash progenitors who had humble beginnings in Houston Texas, I saw the opportunity to reconnect with my thrash roots.

To Start, I want to apologize to Mere Shadows for completely missing their set, even though I was only ten minutes late to the show start time of 7pm. I had some unexpected issues with my camera that needed to be addressed, and I guess “start time at 7:00” means show up early or you’ll miss the first band. (I’m only mildly salty about it.)

You all deserve better, so instead I’ll plug your upcoming show at The Reverb on May 6th, where I hope to catch your set before Field Day, Cordial Spew, (whose set I did catch), and Hand Painted Police Car. Now, with that plug out of the way, (Sorry Mere Shadows,) I can get on with the article.

After arriving at The Waiting Room, late of course, I proceeded to scope out the crowd. Amongst the friendly nose pierced, pink haired faces I saw an old high school friend, Brandon, whom I had not seen in a fortnight.

We instantly bonded over our shared love for Municipal Waste, another crossover band, of which he and I, as well as a large portion of the crowd, were sporting merch. I think at some point the sound guy caught wind of this, as he made it a point to play their greatest hits in between sets.

Brandon recounted a sad, sad tale of the last Municipal Waste show, held here at the Waiting Room, where he lost his treasured Seasons of the Abyss Slayer hat after it had been lost in the pit. Apparently, some dude picked it up, put it on his own head, then proceeded to toss it up into the air, where it was lost to the rafters, never to be donned again. R.I.P Slayer Hat. You are missed, but not forgotten.

After catching up a bit the first (or second) band burst onto the stage.

Old Empires brought an onslaught of melodic hardcore punk, full of chaotic, and photogenic energy, the likes of which broke the protective seal of rust over each and every participant.

From the very first song a hesitant pit broke out from eager fans who had laid dormant, eager to move, eager for an outlet for their aggression, and eager to lose themselves to the music.

The band played a fairly short but memorable set with notable songs “Gallows”, and “Atlas” getting a particular rise out of the crowd; the former developing a particularly speedy circle pit, and the latter bringing infectious grooves that had the pit rats two stepping their way to grace. While the crowd had a blast, it would take more to break in their sleepy joints.

You can find Old Empires on Bandcamp here:

Up next was Cordial Spew, which is probably the best name of all time. I’ll die on this hill, and if you don’t believe me, I’ve talked it over with my wife and she agrees this will be the name of our first child (pending a few legal battles over the rights.)

With an initial onceover, Cordial Spew gives off major Dad Rock vibes. The (don’t) work shirt probably didn’t help, but I’m happy to say it’s Dad Rock vibes in a good way. From their first note the band clearly takes inspiration from early thrash/punk bands like Suicidal Tendencies.

This fits the bill as the band’s bio states that they formed way back in the late 80’s then took a break and reformed recently. This is most likely why their sound is so authentically 80’s punk.

The band played an incredibly fun 20-ish minute set, with noticeable highlights being their track “System Demo”, which has a really fun groovy riff that reminded me exactly why I like punk rock in the first place. Their final track was a punk-y cover of “Ticket to Ride”, which bafflingly worked. Very fun, and very Punk!

You can find Cordial Spew on their Reverb Nation Page here:

Also worth a look, is Molten, which I’m fairly certain shares a member or two with Cordial Spew:

After Cordial Spew got me all nostalgic and stuff for a time before I was even born, Intent, the only other non-local band outside of D.R.I ripped into our hearts with pure loving hatred and Thrash metal.

Admittingly, Intent was more in my wheelhouse than most of the other bands on the bill; all aggression, skinny jeans, and Jackson V guitars. Intent came out swinging with pure high-octane adrenaline which got an immediate reaction from the pit goers, who swarmed in a flurry of hair, denim, and horns.

Over the course of Intent’s set I saw several people picked back up by people who not moments ago had contributed to them being thrown on the ground. There was a dude holding someone's lost glasses up in the air, intending to find the owner, as well as preventing them from being trampled. A guy who had landed directly on his knee was picked up by 4 dudes, while more swarmed him to make sure he was okay.

Such love, respect and care are not out of the ordinary for the metal community, however these testaments stand in stark contrast to recent non-metal events such as the Travis Scott Astroworld debacle, where people were trampled on, with little care and attention paid to them.

Intent’s set was my favorite part of the night and I hope this shows in the photos. Everyone, including myself, had a blast!

You can find Intent on Bandcamp at:

As well as their website:

Finally, as was foretold by the punk rock prophecy, D.R.I. took the stage and guided their flock through the holy scripture of the gutter rats. They brought forth their mystery blood stain on the concrete style early punk/thrash to the masses and brought forth the largest and most aggressive pits of the night.

Being progenitors of the genre, the Dirty Rotten Imbeciles got a whole 2 hours to play, which honestly, was a bit long for someone who isn’t super familiar with their work. However, during their set there were several standout moments that kept my attention.

First and foremost, we were still shaking off some of the rust. During the first few songs, there were a few attempted stage dives which were little more than stage stumbles.

This was commented on by lead singer Kurt Brecht. “I saw a couple of stage dives that weren't really stage dives. They were more like stage falls. Is everyone alright?” Fortunately, no one was injured.

Later in the show, the stage divers had their redemption when the crowd caught them. One diver looked elated as he surfed the crowd on this back, like a messiah being carried to his resting place.

Another moment that stood out was when Father Kurt proclaimed that he had seen “better pits than this at my grandma’s backyard BBQ’s,” which in response riled up the trenches, causing the slimy thrashers to spill over into the onlookers.

One of whom, a very drunk woman, smashed into me. She screamed something into my ear, which I assumed was an apology, but I have no idea what it was, nor if my response of “I know right!” was appropriate. Perhaps she was lamenting over a lost drink, we’ll never know for sure.

Over the course of the set there were a few standout tracks. The first being the classic “Acid Rain”, whereupon the pit size doubled, shaking the venue’s foundation to the core. During the song I witnessed a hat being tossed into the air.

My throat sank hoping it was not the sweet Headbanger Face Rip curved brim cap Brandon had been sporting. Luckily it was not tossed into the rafters and the owner, who was not Brandon, had it placed firmly back onto his head.

Another standout was my favorite D.R.I track “Argument Then War”, where lead singer Kurt lamented about the killings in Ukraine then kickstarted the song with, “Someday, can we all just get along? No, no we cannot!” The band ended their set with the titular track, "5 Year Plan", whereupon Kurt outlines his 5-year plan, taking us from “I lose, you win,” to “I win, you lose!”

When the sermon was finished, we all packed up and left our little church or thrash, rust-less, shiny and chrome, ready to take on the next show.

You can Purchase D.R.I. classics at:

Or visit their website at:

Shout out to Lucas from Black Heart Booking and D.R.I for the photo access!

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