Industrial Hardcore at Home in the LA Underground

Enter through the parking lot and head to the yellow building on the left, up through the loading dock and into the freight elevator. Press number four. Proceed down the hallway and security will guide you through the door. Ten bucks. We have a few shirts if you want one. Be quiet in the hallway, other people live here. Smoke by the windows. I read the email in the car with maps chirping at me to make a U-turn. Pull up, walk straight there, don’t say shit. I felt like an exchange student visiting Berlin trying to get into Berghain. I found a parking spot in a closed Yoshinoya parking lot and settled in to finish my 4Loko while I got a handle on where I was actually going. Corpus, the New York-based record label was in LA putting on an underground show with the cloak and dagger trappings that we all love. Show Me The Body, Dreamcrusher, Tripp Jones and Dog’s Breath are under the Corpus banner. Two of the collective, Show Me The Body and Tripp Jones were in DTLA making a quick trip out west before SMTB kicks off a U.S. tour in April. They put the show out online with an RSVP link, and sent an email out day-of, simply stating the address of the venue and instructions on how to find it. Nothing more.

photos by Todd Boyte

Corpus is defined by hardline principles: solidarity with marginalized communities, community building and self-defense. Show Me The Body embodies these principles as the hard tip of the Corpus spear. Their hostility and aggression screeches and churns to life through industrial synths, sludgy bass lines and piercing screams from the mouth and banjo of frontman Julian Cashwan Pratt. The label most often attributed to their genre is hardcore but its generally a misnomer when applied to the majority of their work. Clear disciples of Sacramento’s Death Grips, members Julian, Harlan Steed and Noah Cohen-Corbett’s music reflects their city: multicultural, loud, dirty and distinctly human. They put together rap, punk and industrial styles to project a youthful fury that has clear direction.

Like drawing apathy as the logical conclusion of nihilism, wielding brutal music as a blunt object is an incomplete reading of. Baseless aggression ends up working against you, and youth without direction is every republicans wet dream. Direct your anger at everybody and everything and you do nothing. All of the power you wield disseminates into the wide world until it evaporates. Punk isn’t meant to hurt everyone, it’s to hurt someone. It’s meant to hurt someone who hurt you, who excluded you, who took something. It is a community that uses brutal and inaccessible music as a way to combat a collective culture that is brutal and inaccessible to them. Corpus is aggression with purpose. Create the community and protect the community, fight everybody.

photos by Todd Boyte

I emerged from the elevator with a few others into the fourth-floor hallway of an industrial space. We followed the scent of smoke to a security guard who quickly patted us down and sent us through a set of metal double doors. ID’s were checked and we shelled out ten bucks. Nedarb Negram, the LA-based producer affiliated with the new wave emo scene was DJ’ing a warm-up trap set to a largely attentive but unenthused crowd. The Khan took the stage next for a quick set and people started to move towards the front, crowding in tightly in usual rap show fashion. Feedback began to rumble out of the PA system after The Khan and I began to notice a lot of young women covered in clown makeup pushing to the front. The pounding on the drum kit clued me in that following the young ladies in face paint was probably a good idea. I abandoned my spot at the front of the bar line and bobbed through the rapidly forming pit to place myself in view of the stage.

Gabby Giuliano, Girl Pusher vocalist, appeared on stage in clown make-up that was closer to corpse paint than Bozo. Along with Jarrod Hine, wailing on his minimalist drum kit, she cut through sirens and industrial synths rapidly modulating her voice from unhinged scream to low, melodic spoken vocals. The duo from LA kept the energy high in their hometown performing mostly music from their fall 2018 album 911. The highpoint of the set came in the chorus of Where the Fuck is My Ambulance, the first track off 911 speeds off from the first verse as Giuliano nimbly guides the thundering beat at her back. Her monologue gives way to the repetitive chorus posing the question from the song’s title. Where the fuck is my ambulance? The crowd wanted to know, and they bellowed it back to Girl Pusher as if they had the answer. After the set, the two rolled straight into the crowd as if they knew everyone there. In hindsight, they may have. Later, I saw Giuliano smoking a joint in a circle with four other girls in clown make up looking like they were about to kick the shit out the Warriors.

photos by Todd Boyte

Post Girl Pusher, the atmosphere in the DTLA industrial space was very friendly. Put a bunch of hardcore punk and rap fans into a warehouse under severe pretense, scream at them, let everyone fight and afterward things will never be so civil. After just enough time for a smoke and another beer, things started to move on stage. Harlan Steed stood over a raised pedal board as the sound system began rumbling with distorted feedback. All heads facing forward, a few people sliced through the crowd from behind. I turned to see Julian Cashwan Pratt, toting his cased banjo, cloaked in a black hoodie and leather jacket. He and two others snaked through the crowd and he climbed on stage. The opening notes of Camp Orchestra, the band’s single released song off of their new album, which is titled the same name and also coming out next month, boomed out of the speakers; being played from a loop on the pedal board by Steed. Julian quickly plugged in his banjo and by the time Steed jumped into the heavy baseline that follows the intro he was down to a t-shirt and at the mic. With a straight face, he delivered the opening vocals before slamming into his upper register and snarling the melodic chorus. K-9 followed and the energy stayed incredibly high through the show. The band showed their mastery of the material; weaving between old songs and unreleased music from the new album, keeping the crowd manic through all of it. The technical skill combined with raw emotion was impossible to turn away from. Watching Show Me The Body is a dead sprint for everyone involved.

photos by Todd Boyte

After a 45 minute set, the end is as well received as the beginning. There is a lovely sense of completion; you’re dripping with sweat, your body hurts and you want to give everyone who did it with you a hug. No encores, no closing remarks, just a thank you and a goodbye. Pratt finished the show on his back and after Body War. He and the rest of the band were entirely off stage before the clapping even begun to die down. A few people cheered for an encore but most people headed for the door, desperate to cool down in the Southern Californian rain. The way they end their shows epitomizes exactly what I love about the band. They aren’t trying to please anyone. They show up and do their thing with their people, and if you like it, you show up. If you don’t like it, then you don’t. They aren’t trying to make you a fan, and if you are a fan it feels like you’re a part of it. More than just a simple disciple being graced with the divine, it feels like you’re apart of the crew. A friend of the band.  Each and every person who went through the process to get into the room really wanted to be there.  In-between songs, Julian graciously thanked everyone for having the group in LA, and cemented that feeling by addressing the crowd as if it were a backyard full of homies. “We’re playing some Redbull shit tomorrow,” he said, “All of you should come, we’ll list as many of you as we can, come fight everybody.”