And Lo, a Sure Man Was Born: Seeing Red, Due Gloom, Young Machetes and Attitude Era
Written by Reid Smith on October 7, 2016
Sure Man House, 503 Sherman Street, Akron.
Scribed by Evan Harms
“The whole point of Sure Man is I promise to never say no, unless there’s really a reason, not because I don’t want to.”
That’s Charlie Johnson, resident and promoter at the Sure Man House in Southern Akron. He lives in the quintessentially midwest two-story house with three other guys – Joshua, Brian and Andrew – about three blocks from the University of Akron, where they all study.
Sure Man House is brand new. Seeing as a lot of houses in the area primarily focused on emo and indie music, Johnson and his housemate Josh Hundley decided to have a place specifically dedicated to hardcore punk.
“I love Midwest Emo as much as the the next guy,” said Johnson, “but there’s just so much.”
The physicality of the house itself is wonderful – a fairly spacious brick porch attached to a relatively nondescript white-paneled abode. Simple enough, but it seems like somewhere anyone could call home. The basement, where the action takes place, is actually quite large but hilariously crunched by a furnace smack in the middle of the room, creating a little “VIP” area off to the side. The PA system, on loan from the fellow Akron house venue ‘It’s a Kling! Thing,’ is nestled behind these obstructions.
“I’ve been selling my plasma to buy our own PA actually,” said Johnson. “I’m very grateful to Tyler [who runs Kling] and I totally support everything he does.”
Unfortunately, I missed the first act of the night, Attitude Era – a local “Wrestling Mosh” band. Named after an actual era of the World Wrestling Federation, they apparently blasted through their set in about 10 minutes, highlighting the beef between the WWF and WWE (I don’t know the difference, I’m a music writer, sorry.) As a sucker for themed bands and shows, I can’t wait to hear Attitude Era live – right now they don’t have anything available online from what I’ve been able to tell.
The first band I actually saw, the second of the night, was Young Machetes (https://youngmachetes.bandcamp.com/). Hailing from Columbus, they lashed out simultaneously muscular and thrashy hardcore to a somewhat sluggish crowd. Vocalist Tyler Morris made great use of the space, wading and jumping all over the basement, really trying to draw listeners into the fold while bassist Alex Sheridan flexed his bowel-crushing bass tone. Persistent mid-tempo riffs were interspersed with sludgy beatdowns plus dings and clangs from drummer Nathan Conley’s array of cymbals, making Young Machetes both classic and intriguing.
Due Gloom (https://duegloom.bandcamp.com), “A metalcore band at a hardcore show,” played a fast-paced set, emphasizing lighter choppy guitar work and unusual time signatures. Their use of sonic atmosphere building into seemingly miscalculated playing was incredible, bringing the listener back to a consistent pulse each time. They actually got the crowd to start moving (albeit briefly), resulting in flailing limbs that knocked a bizarre wet dust off the wall each time someone ran into it.
As a side note – whenever someone started going hard most people would grin idiotically or begin laughing. Not out of contempt, mind you – but because it’s ridiculous and fun to participate in that kind of release.
The main touring band for the night, Seeing Red (http://seeingredhc.bandcamp.com/), is very straight edge. Not militant, but certainly committed.
The band represented the Midwest Blood sound and aesthetic popularized by bands like Expire extremely well. The South Dakota natives repped dog tags and baseball caps in a very natural way, completely unlike the pretentious flat-brims of other midwestern bands (cough One Life Crew cough). Of course, fashion is far less important than music.
If the prior statement is true, I suppose, I should talk about Seeing Red’s music. It is a beefy, powerful brand hardcore that can hardly be messed around with. While many straight edge bands become the butt of almost every punk joke, Seeing Red performed with such conviction and honesty that I could tell even as I ran the PA from behind a furnace and concrete pillar.
Take the song “Smash,” for instance. It was introduced after a brief talk about how bands preach egalitarian ideals on stage but support a wholly different set of politics in their personal lives. Seeing Red was disgusted that racism and general hate are able to creep into even the revolutionary nature of punk rock. The earnestness and passion struck a chord with me on a personal level, as Seeing Red brought their final song to end at precisely 9 pm.
On the Facebook event page, the show was set to run 6 to 9 pm (it’s a school night, ya know). I really enjoyed the earlier show times, as house shows are somewhat notorious for starting incredibly late and running until the early morning. The extra time allowed me to sit down with Johnson and Hundley for a minute.
“I’m honestly stoked,” Hundley remarked, counting through the donation can. “$42.36,” looking over at Johnson.
“Keep, uh, five dollars for us,” Johnson said, pointing out the need for their own PA system. “The rest goes to the touring band for gas and a little food money. It’s not much, you know, but it’s actually much better than I thought we would do tonight.”
My experience on Tuesday night was only positive. I am sure that Sure Man will continue to thrive as time goes on, allowing for the raw power of punk rock to blend with the security and welcome that comes with a community of dedicated individuals like Johnson and Hundley.
“I will always let a band play here. I promise that I love them,” said Johnson.
“You know? It’s like ‘Sure, man.’”
The next show at Sure Man House is Monday 10/10, featuring a mixed lineup of hardcore punk, black metal and electronic acts. The show starts at 6 pm and costs $5. You can find more information at https://www.facebook.com/events/1081489968587256/