Ironies in the Fire 

For Tight Bros From Way Back When, love is hardcore

For a time it was merely fashionable for punk bands to acknowledge their roots in metal and rock. Now it’s practically de rigeur. The former condition is perhaps enough to explain the slew of tribute compilations and the smirking cover versions of Twisted Sister and Mötörhead that many bands reserved for their closing songs and encores. Somewhere along the line, though, the fine line between deep irony and unabashed affection got washed away and straight-up rock mounted a comeback but hard.

Perhaps it’s because rock is the closest thing ’70s suburbia has got to a cultural memory of itself. Maybe it has something to do with the joy of finally realizing the pre-teen dream of being in a band that actually plays the same songs you used to flail and windmill along with on brooms and tennis rackets. Maybe it’s because one KISS-style synchronized guitar move is cooler than ten dopey unison skate-punk jumps and at least five unrehearsed but still overly familiar displays of hardcore spazzing.

Or maybe it was love all along. In the case of Olympia’s Tight Bros From Way Back When, you’re damn straight it was love all along. The Tight Bros (and, please, that is supposed to be pronounced “broze;” if they’d wanted people to call them the Tight Brothers they would have spelled it that way) resent any insinuations that they’re making any kind of retro-cool statement or indulging in self-conscious rock irony. Given their paint-peeling pedigree, however, you can see why people might assume the Tight Bros were a Long Joke on rock du cul: guitarist Jon “Quitty” Quittner used to be in the Mukilteo Fairies, the loudest and thrashiest of the loosely-affiliated queercore confederacy of the early to mid-’90s. After that band broke up, Quitty and second TB guitarist Dave went on to be in an even scarier band: Behead the Prophet (No Lord Shall Live), a veritable hardcore Ragnarok. Tight Bros vocalist Jared Warren, on the other hand, did play in a band that was punk in principle but fully rock in practice: the mind-breakingly heavy Karp, whose LPs and singles always were larded with knowing nods to the radio days—when FM was way more fun than it is now—references that occasionally lingered a little too long to be dismissed as mere goofs. How gleefully they appropriated the chorus from Cheap Trick and then completely debased it in “Keep Your Hands Off My Cake,” to name but one example. You could always tell Karp loved the rock.

Warren’s vocals are the epicenter of the Tight Bros’ debut LP, Runnin’ Through My Bones, Dave and Quitty’s guitar heroics the shock waves spreading out to do the dirty work. This is not some butt-rock joke, and the proof is right there. No one rocks this bad just for effect. With all due respect to Dave and Quitty’s former band(s), compared to the Tight Bros they were just engaging spurs from the main road. Behead the Prophet may have been on a mission, but the Tight Bros are following a calling.

Tight Bros From Way Back When rock you like a hurricane at the Union Hall, Friday, July 14 at 9 p.m. with Ass End Offend, Disgruntled Nation and US 87. Cover $5.

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