A new era of Mick Minchow’s blue-collared quest to bring live music to the masses, along with a new building, has arrived at Spartanburg’s Ground Zero. It has been a few months since the move next door from the old venue and I haven’t had the liberty to venture out until this past Friday April 13th, 2012. It only was natural for my first show at Ground Zero’s new location to be the mighty ANTiSEEN.
I arrived early to see Burns Like Fire doing sound check. I sat in the back of the new venue absorbing it all in while nursing a Pabst Blue Ribbon and inhaling Pall-Malls. Burns Like Fire’s set was impressive, for they sounded like an act that could be on rotation on Top 40 radios. The loudness knob was definitely cranked up enough to make the late Jim Marshall proud. I must admit it took me a short time to adapt that this was the new home of the legendary Ground Zero.
Playing after Burns Like Fire was Panic Manor. Panic Manor is a group of diverse individuals with a distinct sound of punk, power punk, and power rock screamo. They impressed me immediately and I got off my ass and walked toward the stage. Every member of the group brought something to the table of the set they performed. They offered a free CD demo of the music so I picked up a copy. After Panic Manor’s set I briefly spoke with ANTiSEEN’s front man, Jeff Clayton, and asked if the song “Cactus Jack” was on the set. I was informed it was not, and I purchased an Antiseen sticker to support the band.
The Codependents came next in this eventful night of punk rock. They are a three-piece band that plays old-style punk in the fashion of The Circle Jerks with an in-your-face sound. That’s the way true punk rock should be played. The heat from the set made me take refuge outside where I met part of the duo, The Amazing Captain Stab Tuggo & Maybelle, who were also on slate to play that night. I got to talk to Maybelle in great length about her and her husband’s performance. It was a sideshow act that involved sword and balloon swallowing, rat traps, and picking up bricks via eye piercings. The act was exceptional filled with shock value and tremendous comedic timing that had everyone’s undivided attention. After their act I had an opportunity to speak with Captain who is the coolest down-to-earth guy working hard on chasing his dreams. I learned they were on America’s Got Talent and worked with Donny Vomit and Jim Rose. Watching their act was like going back in time to the snake oil medicine shows in downtown Spartanburg that would feature legends like Pink Anderson and Peg-Leg Sam. If you see this duo in your area, go out and support them for they are worth every cent of what you will pay.
I came back after another trip from the bar to witness a performance of a band that once recorded with the iconic punk rock singer/songwriter, GG Allin . I needed to be equipped for the authentic southern punk rock band, ANTiSEEN. This was my fifth time seeing them and quite possibly the best. The sound was raw, rugged, and brutal; it was a non-stop tornado of pure punk sound. I stayed close to the stage as the legends just hammered through some classic tracks. At some point during the middle of the set, my throat was dry and beer bottle vacant so I marched off for the bar. On the walk back I heard somenoe say, “We are now taking that request! Where is that long haired at?!” The voice came from the legendary Jeff Clayton, who I had spoken with earlier. As I moved closer back to the stage he pointed me out and said, “This one is for you!” Suddenly, the trademark “BANG BANG!” of “Cactus Jack” and the band blasted into the song. It was a blessing to briefly talk to Clayton and very cool of him to play one of my favorite tracks by the band. It was an ceaseless set loaded with energy that can only be obtained by a band that performed for past 25 years. ANTiSEEN’s spirit will never die.
The memorable night closed with The Lester Bangs, who I had never heard or seen until this show. The trio hails from Rock Hill, SC and, as I learned, its members are very young. Being young wasn’t an issue for them that night; they impressed the crowd with the loud set they played. It was straight-forward punk rock and these fellas have nothing but respect from me. I found it great that they concluded the show and got to showcase their bright young talent.
The night was the beginning of a new entertainment haven for Ground Zero with pure punk rock for your hard-earned money. Thanks to Burns Like Fire, Panic Manor, The Codependents, The Amazing Captain Stab Tuggo & Maybelle, ANTiSEEN, The Lester Bangs, and owner/booker Mick Minchow for providing the city of Spartanburg with great live music and entertainment. The latest chapter in the legacy of Ground Zero has arrived and shows like this suggest the local scene in Spartanburg, SC is alive.