Refused, Off! | Congress Theater | Rock, Pop, Etc | Chicago Reader

Refused, Off! All Ages Early Warnings (Music) Member Picks Recommended Soundboard

When: Thu., July 26, 6:30 p.m. 2012

Refused's 1998 masterpiece, The Shape of Punk to Come, couldn't have been released at a more appropriate time. The Swedes' presumptuous title—a riff on Ornette Coleman's The Shape of Jazz to Come—foretold the explosion of the late-90s hardcore and posthardcore scene in the States, which included the likes of Ink & Dagger, At the Drive-In, Botch, and a bunch of San Diego screamo outfits. A drastic departure from Refused's more traditional early sound—basically all-screaming chug-chug hardcore—Shape would make the band's name. It's proletariat-revolution political and so experimental it borders on jazzy at times, with soul-crushingly hard buildups and breakdowns that still make me clench my teeth and jolt me with adrenaline every time I hear them, even 14 years later. As an impressionable, angsty youth in his late teens when it came out, I ate the whole thing up with a spoon, buying my fair share of black hair dye and playing in bands that would've burned indigenous villages to get signed to Equal Vision Records. But Refused called it quits a few months later, proclaiming that "Refused Are Fucking Dead" and never properly touring on their biggest and best-loved album. Now that we're in the middle of a string of improbable reunions, though (even At the Drive-In), "Refused Are Very Much Fucking Back." They're working the festival circuit and playing huge halls and undoubtedly signing for fat guarantees with the same hands that wrote the rebellious, take-the-power-back jam "The Deadly Rhythm (of the Production Line)." Still, let's not nitpick about politics or money or speculate about motives—or complain about the garbage bands and subgenres (metalcore, crabcore) that the seminal The Shape of Punk to Come might have encouraged. I'm going to see Dennis Lyxzen get down during "Liberation Frequency" and, yes, "New Noise," and it's going to rule. —Kevin Warwick

Aging gracefully has never been easy for punk rockers, especially since punks were never supposed to get old in the first place. One notable exception is Keith Morris, who earned his spot in the punk pantheon by channeling inchoate teenage rage into hooky tunes while fronting Black Flag and the Circle Jerks during both bands' primes. These days he's proved himself equally adept at doing the same thing with more-focused adult radical-left rage as front man for hardcore outfit Off!, whose lineup includes fellow grown-ass hardcore kids Steven McDonald (Redd Kross) on bass and Mario Rubalcaba (Hot Snakes, Rocket From the Crypt) on drums. The group debuted in 2010 with a series of four seven-inches—later collected in the anthology First Four EPs—whose songs were as frantic and tuneful as anything from Morris's earlier bands. This year Vice released the band's self-titled debut full-length, and even though most of the songs last less than a minute, every one provides a legitimate reason for giving a shit about punk rock in the year 2012. —Miles Raymer Refused headlines; Off! opens. A

Price: $29.50

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