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Live Review: OFF! Toe To Toe & Chinese Burns Unit

21 January 2013 | 9:47 am | Mark Hebblewhite

This band are no nostalgic throwback, they’re at the vanguard of hardcore’s future.

Consisting of various local veterans from the likes of Lawnsmell and Frenzal Rhomb, Chinese Burns Unit oozed confidence as they churned out a solid half hour of passionate melodic punk rock. Toe To Toe battled uneven sound throughout but still managed to deliver a pummelling set of no-nonsense, balls-out hardcore. Mixing the old (When Push Comes To Shove, Slap Of Reality) with the new (Survival, Hard Luck), the Sydney OGs once again showed why they have endured all these years where others have faded and died.

If you think Black Flag started to suck when Henry Rollins became their singer then OFF! (see what they've done there?) are for you. Think Jealous Again-era Flag but updated for the noughties and you get some idea of what these guys sound like. While the group's two LPs are solid rather than spectacular, their material took on a whole new dimension live. With the legendary and still slightly maniacal Keith Morris prowling the stage and Dimitri Coats, Steven McDonald and Mario Rubalcaba churning out powerful slabs of classic West Coast hardcore OFF! were unstoppable. Where the likes of Peace In Hermosa, King Kong Brigade and Zero For Conduct merely hum along on wax, live they turned into dangerous anthems of nihilistic discontent that slapped you round the head and left you begging for more. The only slightly disconcerting aspect of the gig was Morris's tendency to deliver slightly odd stream-of-consciousness rants, although as the man himself explained, at 57 years old he'd earned the right to do what the fuck he wanted. I wasn't expecting much from OFF! but they proved themselves to be a revelation. This band are no nostalgic throwback, they're at the vanguard of hardcore's future.