Krakow,  July 25,  2016


How low and negative can a punk get with this Negative Approach? Not much, I am afraid, as their gig brings such an onrush of positive energy and feelings that the name seems to be just a bad joke. Actually, it's a very good one! Heart attack? I nearly had one!

Yeah, it was a killing gig! And what can you expect? You thought they were a bunch of veterans on a holiday outing from their old people's home (especially with a bass player sporting an enormous and long grey beard, like some mad patriarch)? Nope! No bloody way! They are more like a pack of wolves unleashed and hungry for some healthy dose of noise.

Well, you have to forgive me my sick sense of humor. It was just my awkward way to show due respect to the guys who are true hardcore pioneers and, what is even more important, who keep going strong after all these decades. Negative Approach started in Detroit as early as 1981 and, although did split after two years, the members continued in variuos other groups like Laughing Hyenas or the Meatmen.

Fortunately, they reformed in 2006 to play the Touch and Go's 25th anniversary show, London's All Tomorrow's Parties and Brooklyn's No Fun Fest (with Thurston Moore guesting on guitar). A damn impressive reentry into the Hardcore World after a long hiatus.

The band members were a bit static during the performance but that was forced by a relatively small stage the Warsztat club has. Yet  it did not prevent them from playing tons of ear-splitting songs with blasting instruments and powerful vocals. That was a hell of a hardcore show (hell meaning HELL here). They played practically non stop, without wasting too much time for pausing to introduce songs. It was just 1-2...1-2-3-4! And off they went! The playing was pretty intense then, and that was why they only gave one encore which was an old song "Chaos" by The 4-Skins .

Before Negative Approach occupied the stage, another cool band had played. They are called Spirits and are a straight edge hardcore band based in Boston. Just like Negative Approach they are a quartet and  just like them are very dedicated to what they do. Their set was loud and furious and they seemed to spend all their energy, not saving it for the last dance. And the people in the audience enjoyed the gig as well, many of them moshing and slamming madly. After the show the Spirits were soking wet and totally exhausted. That's Entertainment? No, that's my definition of extreme commitment!

They told me they were going to play somewhere else on that day (Budapest, I guess) but something went wrong and they had a crash landing in Krakow, making the local hardcore crew even happier. Also they had to use an emergency replacement on drums. But the drummer, who I think was from Sweden, was so good that even though it was only their fifth date on that European tour, you could not tell he was not the original Spirits percussionist!

I should also stress the cool fact that all the guys in these bands were really nice, open and outgoing (before and after the gig). The topics of conversation ranged from the old school hardcore to Sonny Sharrock and Sam Rivers. And that is exactly what I have always liked about American musicians: open, broad-minded, wide-ranging. Well, those were the topics extremely unlikely to be discussed with the local  hardcore punks here. There's still so much to be done. You know, Punk Planet is a mega cool place to be, but there's all that outer space waiting to be discovered as well.

Negative Approach playing side by side with Spirits reminded me of the Muddy Waters' Fathers and Sons album. Because they come from different generations. But what is amazing, there is no generation gap. They speak the same language. They, and us too, belong to the same worldwide community that has been constantly growing and evolving for over forty years now. And it ain't dead! Not yet. Punx not dead and neither is hardcore.

The two American bands were supported by two new Polish up-and-coming groups called Strike You Down and Limp Blitzkrieg. They played good sets and were received well. I wish them luck. Perhaps we will hear about them more soon. 

There are also millions of good things to be said about the venue itself, Warsztat that is, a new but already very important place on the map of underground Krakow. I hope to write a separate article  that will be devoted especially to this amazing space.



I have just been reminded by someone reading this, that there is also a rock musician by the name of Sam Rivers, which I forgot. But, of course, I mean the Sam Rivers. The one and only!













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