NXNE Review: Mission Of Burma, Obliterations, California X, June 20, Lee’s Palace


As the old saying goes, you can’t judge a book by it’s cover. The same could probably be said of bands and the t-shirts they wear, but we can often arrive at some sort of conclusion about a band’s influences by whatever band they’re repping on their shirts during a show. And while it’s probably quite a stretch to say that Sting and the Cro-Mags were huge influences on California X, it is fun to imagine what the perfect musical synthesis of “Fields Of Gold” and We Gotta Know” might sound like. Alas, California X are not that band, though they are purveyors of crunchy riffs paired with melodic vocals, which puts them in good company with a few other acts playing NXNE whose repertoire hearkens back to the sounds of the 1990s. I got hints of Dinosaur Jr. and a few others in their sound.

Continuing on with the t-shirt theme, I noticed Obliterations had an even more diverse range of musical acts represented on their shirts – Neu!, David Allen Coe, and Black Flag. Much like California X, they don’t sound anything like an amalgam of all those sounds (likely a good thing) though they’re as uncompromising in their sound as I imagine those acts to be, playing a blistering set of straight ahead hardcore.

Vocalist Sam James Velde was an intense performer, but also a fairly funny guy in his stage banter, especially when he called NXNE out on their corporate partnerships. He discovered while looking on social media earlier in the evening that the show would be sponsored by a vodka company. He added that that he was OK with that and that they didn’t really care about the sponsorship, but that the sponsor seemed to be “in the wrong business.” He was referring to the projections on the wall designed by Lee’s Palace artist Al Runt, noting that the somewhat trippy art in fact wouldn’t make him want to drink vodka, but rather might make him want to get “high as fuck.” Naturally, the band launched into “Blackout” after that. Velde later thanked METZ’s Chris Slorach for putting them on the bill (apparently he had something to do with booking this show), describing him as a cool guy in a cool band from a pretty cool town, though he did note the number of restaurants in our fair city. “Y’all motherfuckers like to eat!” Obliterations easily put on one of the most satisfying and entertaining sets of NXNE for me.

Finally, Mission of Burma closed out the night, playing all the post punk classics from throughout their career. As far as I could tell, Mission of Burma weren’t wearing any band shirts. They’re more likely to be the band other bands wear onstage though, so it’s all good.

Posted on by Paul in North By Northeast