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Now in its fourth year, Damaged City Fest has become not just one of the city’s best music festivals, but one of the best hardcore and punk festivals in the country. Throughout the year, founders Chris Moore and Nick Candela work tirelessly to bring some of the best punk bands from across the world to D.C. This year’s festival is its best yet, growing from a two-day festival at St. Stephen’s Church to a four-day affair at venues across the city. There’s a lot happening this weekend, but here are the bands you should an special effort to see:
One of Damaged City Fest’s most charming qualities is the number of international acts they managed to bring to town. In a festival rife with talent from across the globe, you really can’t go wrong with any of the fest’s seven showcases. But U.K.’s Tau Cross is perhaps at the peak of international talent. The band’s fusion of black metal, crust, and thrash—which features members of Amebix, Voivod, and Misery—is punishing and bleak and apocalyptic. Some real heavy Mad Max: Fury Road shit.
Tau Cross play at The Pinch, 3548 14th St. NW, tonight at 7 p.m. $12.
And speaking of apocalyptic sounds, there’s local doom-crust outfit Dagger Moon, whose prog-y take on metal also feels like the soundtrack to an apocalypse, albeit one far different than Tau Cross’s. Anchored by futuristic synth sounds, thunderously sludgy riffs, and singer Chris Keller‘s distant and echoed screaming, Dagger Moon is far and away D.C.’s most interesting metal band.
Dagger Moon play at The Pinch, 3548 14th St. NW, tonight at 7 p.m. $12.
When Damaged City started a few years back, it was pretty much exclusively hardcore bands. The two-day showcase at St. Stephen’s felt like more of an endurance test as punks stomped and moshed around to dozens of hardcore bands. There’s nothing wrong with that if it’s your thing, but it’s nice to see some sonic diversity evolve over the years. And Boston’s Dame is the perfect example of this evolution. The goth-y post-punk quintet might seem like the odd band out during its show with Systematic Death, Zero Boys, Blood Pressure, Busted Outlook, and Stand Off, but there’s no doubt its synth-heavy tunes will inspire all the punk kids to cut rug instead of slam dancing.
Dame play Friday at All Souls Unitarian Church, 1500 Harvard St. NW, at 6 p.m. $25.
None of Post Teens’ songs last more than 70 seconds, but they don’t need to. In that time, the Florida band packs more punch than any band can in two or three minutes. The band’s 2012 EP, The Heat, flies by fast—six songs in about seven minutes—but it’s seven minutes of dirty, garage-y punk songs that feel right at home with bands like Dead Boys and Circle Jerks.
Post Teens play Friday at The Pinch, 3548 14th St. NW, at 11 p.m. $10.
For a while, a Sem Hastro show was a special thing in D.C. That’s because its members were splitting time between D.C. and, uh, São Paulo, Brazil, where singer Xavero lives. The band formed when Xavero was living in D.C. as part of a kind of informal punk rock cultural exchange situation, with Candela in Brookland. When Xavero moved back to São Paulo, it made simple things, like practicing, difficult. But he would come back every now and then and the Sem Hastro pseudo-reunions were things beauty. Now, Candela lives in São Paulo with Xavero and the band is at its most prolific period yet. Expect a sweaty, raucous, and explosive set.
Sem Hastro play Friday at The Pinch, 3548 14th St. NW, at 11 p.m. $10.
One of 2015’s best demos was Homosuperior‘s Mall Madness Demo: Five snotty, deranged tracks that hit you like an air cannon of nostalgia and grime. Since then, the band’s been getting more and more popular thanks to its blistering live show that features singer Josh Vogelsong performing in full drag as his alter ego Donna Slash.
Homosuperior play Friday at The Pinch, 3548 14th St. NW, at 11 p.m. $10.
I’m not one for hyperbole, so it means something when I say Sheer Mag is hands down the best current rock ‘n’ roll band in America. The band just released its third EP, which further proves that classic rock and Thin Lizzy are more punk than most of the punk bands you listen to. But what makes this band so important is singer Tina Halladay‘s urgent lyrics, which not only calls out sexism in today’s culture, but urges listeners to take a stand.
Sheer Mag play Saturday at the Calvary Methodist Church, 1459 Columbia Road NW, at 2 p.m. $35.
Honestly, none of this would be happening if it wasn’t for Coke Bust, Moore and Candela’s long running straight-edge hardcore band. The band doesn’t play locally much—it usually spends a lot of time on the road in other countries—so any chance to catch it in D.C. feels like a special occasion, even if it is because of the fest that two-thirds of the band started.
Coke Bust play Saturday at the Calvary Methodist Church, 1459 Columbia Road NW, at 2 p.m. $35.
A couple weeks ago, Arts Desk premiered the first track off Flasher’s debut EP, which officially drops tomorrow. The new(ish) D.C. trio, made up of members of Priests, Big Hush, and Bless, is making music unlike anything in the city right now; anxious, goth-tinged post-punk that sounds like it time-warped here from the ’80s. The band plays on Sunday as part of the inaugural Damaged City Art Show, which will feature the work from nearly two-dozen artists from around the world. Work that, in all likelihood, will be as iconic as the photos and fliers of D.C.’s punk scene in the ’80s.
Flasher play Sunday at Open City DC, 1135 Okie St. NE, at 2 p.m. $5.