at the Rat
by Scott Hefflon
Many bands are referred to as hardcore. Few actually are hardcore. Strife is hardcore, through and through. Straight-edged, non-metal, all angst, all positive, and heavy enough so that you best be straight-edge if you expect to keep up with them. Without crossing over to anything, L.A.’s Strife stays true to the original hardcore spirit without rehashing what’s already been done.
At the all ages show, the pit looked like pure madness. To the uninitiated, having 30 or so fans on the stage with the band might seem strange. The band encouraged it. The bouncers only stepped in to keep the singer from getting buried and losing the mic. Every shouted chorus (and it seemed the songs were exactly that – shouted choruses strung together) had kids swarming over one another to get to the mic and offer their voice. Rick Rodney, the vocalist, is a rather solid, bald guy with a voice like a Mack truck. I didn’t see him for long periods of time under the masses of crawling bodies. Even the pit was fun. Coming from more of a metal background myself, I’m used to hair, leather, spikes, boots and mean-as-shit flailing. This was a pit filled with gangly high school kids in long T-shirts and baseball caps having a good time. There were no psychotic tattooed tree trunk arms threatening to knock you out cold if you aren’t paying attention. Maybe that’s what happens when you don’t eat dead cow and put poison in your system – you become considerate. Angry yet considerate. The show’s finale was an amazing sight to see. Over 50 people rushing the stage, multiple crowd-surfers, the voices of a couple hundred kids shouting for unity, for change, and the band behind it all somewhere, never missing a note.