Previously Published in THE DAILY IOWAN on April 10, 2018.
Image Credit: James Year/The Daily Iowan
Written By Rhiana Chickering
Angsty tattoo-covered musicians with evident emotional baggage intensely screamed along with boisterous guitars and pounding drums, releasing all pain and aggravation.
Crowds walked into Gabe’s, 330 E. Washington St., a few people donning “rocker” appearances complete with skinny jeans, black lipstick, leather jackets, and tattoos on their necks and faces and down their arms.
During Mission Creek’s Underground Showcase, some audience members made facial expressions as if they were trying to read something upside down, stunned as if they couldn’t quite figure out why vocalists were screaming at them. Others looked as though they were trying to solve a calculus problem while taking mental notes on how to handle their next frazzled relationship.
Gabe’s also suffered a schedule change with the Cherry Tops breaking up, Contentious’s ill band member, and Black Belt Eagle Scout’s tour bus breaking down.
Overall, though, I have never seen so much intent head-banging.
Behind them, old vinyl records and band posters depicting The Black Keys, Run DMC, The Beastie Boys, and L.L. COOL J hung on the walls. Vintage red, glass-stained ceiling lights hung above the bar.
Amplifiers suddenly blasted fierce electric guitars, with the guitarists of Spider Magnets brusquely leaning back and forth. The vocalist sang with minimal change in pitch.
Comparably, The Backlund’s vocalist produced a punk-centric pitch that didn’t change tone until she began screaming. The guitarists’ fingerpicking produced strong, charged sounds.
Near the end of the set, the vocalist gave an extensive, ear-ringing scream, increasing the anxiety in the song.
Head-banging and jumping from audience members and guitarists alike continued into Teenage Bigfoot’s set, while the drummer even crossed his arms to evoke a more complex level of drum technique.
Vocalist and bass guitarist Tiffany Tavella primarily screamed and shouted, but in the midst of playing his electric guitar, Joe Gdowik began performing vocals with Tavella, providing the music with more variety in pitch.
“We’re a punk band that’s a little more on the melodic side,” Tavella said. “We have a little bit of edge, but we focus on having [more melodies].”
Abruptly and quite unexpectedly, guitars screeched like microphones too close to a speaker.
The Closet Witch musicians positioned themselves in a circular position — the drums facing away from the audience and the guitarists facing the audience. The band even brought an additional speaker to intensify the experience.
Lights flickered like lightning as vocalist Mollie Piatetsky screamed lyrics, banging her head in the center of the audience.
“For me it’s an emotional release because at the beginning, I start out anxious thinking about the songs and lyrics, then it all happens, and it is like a blur,” Piatetsky said.
Aggressively turning, jumping and head-banging, the punk fanatics caused others to quickly step back out of their way while slowly banging their heads like a cult of zombies.
“We always [perform] loud, fast, and [abrasively],” bass guitarist Cory Peak said.
Understandably, Piatetsky lifted a gallon of water to drink, as the shirtless drummer knelt on the stage for a break, sweat sliding down his neck.
More melodic, Black Belt Eagle Scout was a relief to those who prefer rock music over punk, and the band played more rock elements from the set list.
Complete with fingerpicking of guitars and the vocalist delivering a more variety of pitches and less screaming, Black Belt Eagle Scout was a great change of pace to end the underground showcase.