Photo by Brendan Mehan

Sacramento-based hardcore/punk quartet Trash Talk rounded out the bill at Life Or Death PR‘s showcase last night at a packed Cake Shop. Showcases like this are interesting. Any larger PR firm obviously takes on artists from a wide range of musical creeds, so when the company’s highlights are put together in one evening of music, the combination will either come off as a random, all-encompassing musical genre stew or it will somehow all work out perfectly and everyone will leave with a more sophisticated and diverse musical pallet to take home and show mom and dad. I don’t know if that over exaggerated latter totally came through, but the diversity was more successful than one might have originally expected.
The showcase was long, so obviously the entire list of bands from 8 p.m. to 3 a.m. was not covered. Immediately leading up to Trash Talk was a grouping of hip-hop acts. Pittsburgh’s Wise Blood held down a solid, heartfelt set of electronic sample-filled songs; however, at times the audience seamed a bit alienated by the lead singer’s frank, self-loathing and destructive bouts. For example, in between songs he discussed his plans for jumping off the Brooklyn Bridge or about how the next song perfectly showed how much he hates himself. He then jumped on top of the bar and kicked mine and some other drinks on to the floor. Come on man, that shit was like six bucks.
The following act, Main Attrakionz, though not a big leap in terms of genre, took the mood in a whole different direction. The Oakland, CA, duo rapped over 808-heavy, Southern-style slow beats, keeping the subject matter light. Though the two aren’t old enough to legally drink, they apparently have enough experience with pills and weed to make a whole set out of it.
Cake Shop was the best and worst place for a band like Trash Talk to headline. The small, dingy room suits the hardcore band’s fierce edge, but the sound quality did the group zero justice. This is especially true for lead singer Lee Spielman whose vocals were barely audible. Despite this and frequent guitar cut-outs, the energy was so thick and the vibe so relentless that the band took the room from a chilled-out hip-hop vibe to a violent, sweat-dripping-from-the-ceiling type of mood after only a few songs. Spielman reveled in the close quarters with the fans from the floor-level stage, frequently instigating mosh pits and occasionally taking swipes at crowd members. After blasting through probably 20 to 25 minutes of two-minute-long punk gems, including the majority of Trash Talk’s recently released and acclaimed EP, Awake, Spielman concluded the set and sat down for a well deserved breath. This is also after he kicked me straight in the chest while I was trying to get a picture.