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CONFLICT (Live in Oakland, CA)

conflict_gigThe Oakland Metro Opera House is a standard venue for British punk bands coming through the Bay Area and appearances by G.B.H., The Subhumans and the Cockney Rejects have seen large crowds of punk’s moshing the night away.

I last saw Conflict in San Francisco over 10 years ago but picked up on their West Coast tour through social media and couldn’t wait to see them in the perfect venue.

I arrived to see the last part of the Resist and Exist set. An anarcho-punk band with a great history from Southern California who remind me of Flux of Pink Indians, played an uncompromising and blistering set to an appreciative but relatively small crowd. It’s been a while since I’d listened to the band but their tight and loud songs with passionate delivery from a group of people who clearly mean what they are saying encouraged me to dust off some old vinyl and download the Apocalyptic Prison Struggle single – it’s well worth it! After their set, the band mingled with the audience and went onto sell T-Shirts and give out pamphlets on a variety of issues from animal liberation to women’s rights at a small table in the venue…don’t see that at corporate events.

Next up were L.A. punk stalwarts, Total Chaos. I saw them support The Subhumans at this venue a couple of years ago and they maintain the power and energy that they are well known for. The set was peppered with songs from their long history such as ‘Unite and Fight’ but again, the crowd was sparse and mosh pit fairly empty.

 

Near the end of the Total Chaos set, Colin Jerwood of Conflict walked in front of me to show his appreciation of the support band and in between songs I managed to let him know that I first saw Conflict in Sheffield in 1994 which prompted him to give me a huge hug and a slobbering kiss on the forehead as he commented “…love that mate, love hearing those stories…” He went to chat with bassist Paul Hoddy who was manning the Conflict T-Shirt table and within 15 minutes, the band were on stage.

By now the venue was over half full (albeit a shock that it wasn’t sold out) and Conflict launched into their set. Colin was pissed off with the sound quality for the first few songs but, as per normal, he put in 100% effort to the lyrics which still mean as much today as they did 20 years ago. The band was tight with Hoddy and Spike on drums delivering the foundation for some of most powerful punk riffs ever laid down (I think the guitarist was from Icons of Filth) – Coiln was joined on stage by new band member Jeannie who belted out some vocals like she is the angriest person on earth – great addition to the group and, as with the Resist and Exist delivery, it’s clear she means what she says.

The crowd was into it, the band delivered and, although I reckon Colin had a had a couple of beers, he comes across as a genuinely good bloke with no rock star trappings or pretenses and he cares – he and his lyrics have been a big influence in my life and the Oakland gig did not disappoint.

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