Hot Snakes reunion thrills

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Hot Snakes hit it full force at Bottom of the Hill.
PHOTO BY BROWN TOWN

Right out of the gate, late '90s San Diego post-hardcore supergroup Hot Snakes kicked off its reunion show at Bottom of the Hill Friday with "I Hate the Kids" (Suicide Invoice, 2002).

The chant-able anthem ("I hate the kids/I hate the kids")  roared with the group's likable energy and set the tone for a crystalline night of electrifying fan favorites. (And the show was packed and sweaty with a very specific type of fan in fact, but I'll get to that later.) The hour-and-some-change set thundered, roared, and titillated.

It felt like the band never left. Though it dispersed in 2005, Hot Snakes' founding members — thrilling, quick-fingered guitarist John Reis and smokers holler expert/lead vocalist-guitarist Rick Froberg, both formerly of Drive Like Jehu — have continued steady careers in underground acts like the Night Marchers and Obits, and this is likely why the band sounded so tight, so pre-expiration date meaty fresh.

It left many in the crowd wondering, '”where are the new bands like this today?” Where is all the restless, shouting pain matched with unquestionable musicianship now? And how does Froberg not lose his voice after every show?

There were many explosive moments, perhaps too many to recall. Particular standouts of absolute shred and matching audience reaction include "Braintrust" and "LAX." After quickly ripping through tracks off 2000's Automatic Midnight ("No Hands" stood out) Suicide Invoice, and Audit in Progress (2004) — with in-between banter kept to a bare minimum — the quartet, which switched out drummers mid-set, ended the official pre-encore set with another killer chant-along, "Plenty for All" (off Audit in Progress).

During that pre-encore finale, the cheery guitar line mixed with reminiscent, tongue-in-cheek lyrics of Southern California glitter and jabs at all-that-glitters-is-not-gold consumerism left a crowd of relocators (*that's what this particular fan group felt like to me, 25-45-year-old Southern California transplants to the Bay Area, of varying degrees of cool, rockabilly, punk, still living for the thrill of live fast rock'n'roll) singing another ode to days of yore: "Southern California/Let's go!/There's room for us all." And it felt like home.

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