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Arts and Entertainment

Sin 34 @ Liquid Kitty 2/24/08

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In the 80s, every punker's bedroom wall was papered with flyers from gigs. There were a few bands that always seemed to be at the bottom of the flyer - perpetual openers. Sin 34 was one of those bands. From 81 - 84 they were always there at the major shows, usually somewhere near the bottom of the flyer.

They broke up a year before I got to know drummer Dave Markey, guitarist Mike Glass and bass player Phil Newman. At the time, Dave and Phil were playing with Vic Makauskas in Painted Willie - part of the melodic-hard-rock-psychedelic-inspired post-punk movement that was the missing link between hardcore and grunge. Whenever the guys mentioned Sin 34 it was always with a mysterious chuckle. Sin 34 was some kind of inside joke that I was not a part of. As a result, I didn't take the band very seriously, always assuming they were a fun bit of goofy punker fluff.

In November of last year, when Sin 34 announced their upcoming reunion, I naturally didn't take it very seriously either. I knew that they were all good musicians. I knew that it would be some good old-timey 80s thrash. But I had no idea. None of us did. I don't think Sin 34 had any idea. Last Sunday, when they gathered for the first time to kick out the jams, there wasn't enough room in Liquid Kitty to contain the explosion of hardcore that split the room at its seams.

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From the opening strains of War at Home to a fun and feelgood cover of DEVO's Uncontrollable Urge, Julie Lanfeld immediately took command of the audience. She is a natural, instictively giving just enough attention to the fans slavishly adoring her, while keeping an emotional boundary between herself and the fray. The crowd was going completely batshit, and at one point she had to take them to task. The few serious troublemakers were rounded up by the bouncers, and the controlled madness resumed.

They brought down the house with Not from the We Got Power: Party or Go Home compilation and 12 Hour Trip from Desperate Teenage Lovedolls. Their single new/old song is an anti-acid anthem, Over the Edge. Like literally, Dianne Linkletter over the edge. Children Shall Not be Heard had the entire audience singing along. The pace was relentless.

Mike Glass was in serious guitar god form, riffing like it took absolutely no energy at all. His fingers flew across the frets while he looked slightly bored by how easy it was. Phill Newman glared angrily into space throughout most of the show. I'm pretty sure without monitors he was keeping time by intently watching Dave Markey for cues, or maybe that was his angry Henry hardcore persona. Over on drums, Markey thrashed away like a madman. I had no idea he could play so fucking fast. Seriously. We're not exactly kids anymore.

Speaking of kids, where did all these young fans come from? Here is a band that disappeared into the ether 23 years ago, leaving barely any vinyl behind. How did they develop a new following without playing a single show? How did these kids know all the words to Children Shall Not be Heard? Was it the magic of Myspace? Is there a huge underswell of punkers, generation after generation, keeping our music alive?

Sin 34 plans to re-mix and re-master their EP and LP as well as playing some yet-to-be-determined shows. One thing we can say for sure is that this mistakenly under-rated band won't be at the bottom of the flyers ever again.

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All photos and video taken by Elise Thompson for LAist, except for the last picture of Dave, which was taken solely for my own pleasure.