For the discerning punk rocker, this Sunday, February 9th presents an epic dilemma for the ages: which amazing band should you go and smash shit up with? Pennsylvania’s Pissed Jeans at the Knitting Factory, or Brooklyn’s Cerebral Ballzy at the Gramercy Theatre? Let’s weigh up the options…
Allentown natives and Philly residents Pissed Jeans have been going hard for 10 years and aren’t afraid to make the kinds of sounds that make you want to hurl your disaffected head full-force into a concrete post, just out of sheer solidarity. Signed to Sub Pop and four albums in, the older they get, the more irritable they are–which is just how we like it.
Snotty, charismatic and infused with all of the fuck-you rage of early Black Flag, Brooklyn’s Cerebral Ballzy, have been a much-needed adrenaline shot to the heart of New York’s hardcore scene since they formed in 2008. Live, this quintet is raw and chaotic to a degree that sometimes borders on terrifying. Which is awesome. Obviously.
Song Topics in Summary
Pissed Jeans: a deep sense of malaise, trying really hard not to be sexist, saying no to everything, feeling uncomfortable everywhere, working in an office, distrust of online dating, distrust of the medical profession, distrust of attention seekers, distrust of humans in general.
Typical lyric: “Thought I heard some sobbing/ They’re really gonna miss that guy/ Inside I’ll be laughing/ ‘Cause you’re dead — you died” (“Cafeteria Food”).
Cerebral Ballzy: saying no, taking drugs, drinking ’til you hurl, pizza, the evils of consumerism, causing havoc, disobedience in all its forms, a distrust of authority, saying no some more.
Typical lyric: “Back the fuck up/ Your existence is a nuisance/ Propaganda propagating fucking douches” (“Don’t Tell Me What to Do”).
If there is anything punker than putting exquisite male figure-skating in the video for a hardcore song, we’ve yet to see it. Behold Pissed Jeans’ “Romanticize Me”:
Further proving they were born in the wrong decade, Cerebral Ballzy’s recreation of the grainy, often-awkward, always-rebellious skateboarding videos of the 1980s for “On the Run” was a stroke of genius–and not just because they got Steve Alba to be in it:
What’s in a Name?
Pissed Jeans is almost aromatic in its grossness. But before settling on their current title, the band started life as Unrequited Hard-On, which is probably the single greatest discarded band-name we have ever heard.
The members of Cerebral Ballzy have friends who have such an inordinate disregard for their own well being, they will climb onto train tracks just to retrieve dropped slices of pizza. Legend has it that when this happened, vocalist Honor Titus declared “That was ballsy”, only to have another friend comment “Cerebral Ballsy!” The rest is history.
Well, that’s just too close to call. Make your own minds up because you’re pretty much guaranteed a raucous time at either show. It should be noted, however, that Pissed Jeans don’t tour a lot, thanks to day jobs and family matters–you should probably catch ’em while you can.
This article from the Village Voice Archive was posted on February 7, 2014