Thursday December 14th 2017

The Welch Boys / Held Hostage / Out Live Death / Working Poor USA


The Welch Boys / Held Hostage / Out Live Death / Working Poor USA
Midway Cafe, Jamaica Plain, MA     11/11/17


Today is Veterans Day and today is a benefit for veterans, for Operation Delta Dog, in fact, and it is also in honor of one our fallen heroes Keith Brooks, who was one of our best promoters of hardcore shows a few years back and always put on a Wounded Warrior benefit every time this year.

Up first is one of my favorite Oi bands, Working Poor USA. I wasn’t a big fan of Oi until fairly recently when I saw more clearly its direct relationship with early punk, now I love it as much as mice love cheese. This is a Cape Cod band (the bassist is wearing a Fast Times t-shirt) that grew out of the great, hardcore band Antibodies.

Tony, the singer from that band, has much to do with the success of this band- with his barking, intense vocals and lyrics about working class concerns. And he’s backed by an equally, terrific band with a tight, powerful, rhythm section and two excellent guitars- one that ably spits out rock’n’roll leads when needed.

They start with their song “Freedom” and dedicate it to Keith, “Freedom ain’t free, not for you and me…working man gets left behind.” They follow that with “Middle Ground,” another song from their awesome EP.

But my favorite tune by them today is the rousing, energetically rockin’ “Lion For A Day.”

Though the crowd seems slow to react, they play an intense, powerful, true set and start off the day magnificently.

Out Live Death is next and they grew out of the New York band “Live Fast Die Fast.” This is the band that made us reconsider just reviewing New England bands and changing it to include New York as well.

And I know, Paul, the singer of this band as the most eloquent front man we cover. So when he talks of Keith, who he was close to, and how he thinks about him  everyday, and if he was here he’d be right up front being a jerk, but in a totally, loving way. He ends up giving the best of the many toasts to Keith today.

But their music is great to hear, too. Heavy, New York hardcore but infused with the energy of early punk that never gets bogged down with the heaviness of metal but instead, leaps and abounds with the early energy of punk.

I feel that all New York bands carry the energy and excitement of New York City, that you can feel in bands like The Ramones and The Dictators but go as far back to The Young Rascals and The Velvet Underground, too.

Their set contains emotion, integrity, commitment and truth- all that encapsulated what Keith supported, what he stood for.

“We Ain’t Dead Yet,” is the last song of their set, that is more alive then how most lives are liven.

Held Hostage is one of Rhode Island’s best hardcore bands, probably the best after Reason To Fight, and if I remember right, they were one of Keith’s favorite bands, too.

That would be of no surprise as they are one one the more, powerful and tight hardcore bands that we cover. This is New York heavy hardcore influenced music with screaming, emphatic vocals and music that hits hard and true and strong.

They play a very tight, ferocious set today and fans of this music should be mighty pleased, indeed.

The Welch Boys are up to take us out. They play music where melodic punk meets street punk/Oi meets hardcore and decides to form an unholy trinity.

There’s not much to add except they are the best at what they do and they do their usual awesome set full of intensity, conviction, energy and fun.

My favorite part is when their guitarist, TJ, has his son sing the lyrics to their cover of The Anti-Nowhere League’s “Pete Townsend Is A Pervert” (keep him away from the children.)

But this is a band that embodies the best of the local scene and it’s wonderful that they would lend their name, as they are always willing concerning benefits, towards this great cause.

This show was put together by Sean Connery, of hardcore band Words Of Truth, who has vowed to keep these shows going every year in honor of Keith. This being, I believe, the second year he’s done this.

For those of you who don’t know, Keith besides being one of our best promoters, was also one of the biggest fans and one of the most loved people of those who remember him.

He also credited me with “teaching me everything I know about putting on shows,” which is laughable. I’d put on, maybe, three shows, knew I had no knack for it, but told Keith the basics when he came looking towards me for advice.

My advice was taken then but when I tried to advise him about not killing himself with booze, I was unsuccessful. I kick myself a bit, because I thought I had a chance, (I was older and I was told he looked up to me), but when I really think about it, I knew I didn’t have one.

Because Keith was suffering from PTSD stemming from an incident in Afghanistan, where he accidentally ran over and killed a child in a vehicle he was driving. Over there it’s like driving over a squirrel, just pick it up and toss it to the side of the road and keep moving.

Keith was a fatality of war. He died in Afghanistan- it just took a while for the effects to do him in, back in the states.

I had a lot of joy today and I shed a few tears, especially when Viviam entered the club. And I do know that if Keith was here today, and I’m not saying he wasn’t, he would have had a few laughs and had a lot of fun.

And I’m grateful for knowing him and for knowing all involved and for everyone who was here today.


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