Last night’s four-act Cattivo gig was my first time attending anything related to Skull Fest, the annual punk-centric weekend-long event made up of micro-concerts spread out over many small venues that is now in its tenth year. This stand leaned more towards the metal side of things, and due to the nature of the festival, the crowd was crusty and mohawked and jovially rowdy, the number of unfamiliar, youthful faces somewhat overwhelming the senses and comfort of this Hessian Gen X-er, my Behemoth shirt standing out amongst the Wasted Youth patches and Anti-Flag buttons. Yet the evening would ultimately belong to homegrown steel of various alloys.
Crossover delinquents Oh Shit They’re Going To Kill Us! resurfaced after quite an absence to headline the show Made up of Lady Beast, Circle of Dead Children, and Wrought Iron alumni, the band’s wacky, sardonic set brought to mind everyone from S.O.D. and Nuclear Assault to Suicidal Tendencies and Nekrogoblikon. Dusty Hanna’s nerdy frontman presence somewhat recalled Life Sex and Death’s bizarre throat “Stanley” as he’s known and belied the highly proficient musicianship that was occurring behind him. A dragon made of wire and pulped paper even made an appearance, an economical version of Dio’s “Sacred Heart” tour amusingly rearing its head only to be destroyed by the near-capacity crowd of moshers and slamdancers.
Another almost-forgotten local band came back for revenge, vicious thrashers Wrathcobra razing the neighborhood with their Napalm Death-meets-Lamb of God massacre for the first time in many moons as well. Again, exacting performances were at the heart of the matter as Lady Beast’s Greg Colaizzi performed double thick-string duty, plucking away as guitarists Dom La Gamba and Kenny Houser fired off rounds of Black Talon bullets at will and their Sepulturic caveman of a mouthpiece, Caleb Cornell, bashed in the heads of posers and dined on their flesh.
Also lighting a torch end to end was gifted drummer Mike Laughlin who ground-and-pounded for the bill’s first two acts: Derketa and Tartarus. Derketa were typically dread-laden, their pioneering funerary doom/death putting the hooligans on notice for that which is inevitable, showing everyone that they deserve the respect and recognition given to Anathema, My Dying Bride, and Paradise Lost. Prior to that, Tartarus, deathful, blackened emissaries of the lower depths, impressed early attendees through a short but blazing set that was a sort of modern representation of the genres they straddle, lead viper Clarissa Badini hissing and undulating in serpentine fashion, transfixing the audience amidst the stoic guitar work of Ben Carrozza. Tartarus shocked the crowd and closed out their set with a fun, Bon Scott-era AC/DC cover sung impressively with sassy, clean vocals by Ms. Badini.
To think that there had ever been friction between punks and metalheads. Thankfully, this showcase of Pittsburgh bands demonstrated that the animosity was cremated long ago and was discarded forevermore.