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Monday, March 23, 2009

Condominium @ Frank’s Power Plant

March 19, 2009

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There is something timeless about a D.I.Y. punk show. As the world seemingly falls apart all around us, I take some comfort in the fact that kids are still wearing studded leather jackets and Minor Threat T-shirts, turning out to support touring hardcore punk bands and wearing their musical influences on their sleeves. In many ways, the time is ripe for a rebirth of such an aesthetic. American hardcore was born during the depths of the early-'80s recession. What will be the soundtrack to our current financial meltdown?

Minneapolis-based Condominium may be the answer to such a timely question. Onstage, the four-piece was able to create an amazing wall of noise that took its cues from such seminal punk bands as Black Flag (the band relies heavily on a series of Greg Ginn-inspired guitar riffs), Void, Flipper and early-'80s Boston acts like Impact Unit, Jerry's Kids and SSD. Condominium succeeds in drawing from the most abrasive elements of hardcore punk in a way that strips the sound of unnecessary baggage, allowing the pure primal energy of the genre to take center stage.
Refreshingly, there is nothing overtly violent or thuggish about the band's take on hardcore. And the young band plays with the intensity and passion of those who have finally discovered a cache of records that speak directly to their feelings of anger and frustration. Despite the almost middle-age status of some of their influences, a sense of the joy of that discovery marks the band's best material.

Other contemporary acts, such as Pissed Jeans and Clockcleaner, have mined similar territory with outstanding results. Yet whereas those bands tend to eschew the outright thrash often associated with the genre, Condominium has taken the hardcore punk mantra of "Shorter, Faster, Louder" to heart. Such an approach to music is incredibly simplistic-though not necessarily in a bad way. By remaining true to the pure form of the sound, as laid out by their predecessors, Condominium reminds us of the reasons why hardcore punk may still be relevant in 21st-century America. If there were ever a time for such a genre, it's now.