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Codeseven, Hopesfall bring Ziggy’s back, big

by Ryan Snyder

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Jeff Jenkins (left) and “Big” Dave Owens of Codeseven inaugurated the new Ziggy’s in style Friday night. (photo by Ryan Snyder)

It´s alright to concede it: Ziggy’s opening, despite the most unfortunate circumstances behind the reshuffling, couldn’t have played out any better. The dozen-band extravaganza of a grand reopening scheduled for the last weekend in July is still happening, albeit in September, when the venue’s full amenities are certain to be in place. The first show at the new Ziggy’s, however, had to be something much more grand on principal. Complete with violent mosh pits, band members launching themselves into the audience and plenty of deafening noise, a reunion by one of Winston-Salem’s seminal hardcore bands with their most venerated lineup was just that.

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Codeseven’s first show in their hometown with vocalist Dave Owen in more than a decade second show wasn’t quite a sellout at over 900 attendees, though the complete unavailability of parking within four blocks of the new venue at the corner of 8th and Trade streets heralded the scene inside. Thirty-something ex-punks with a taste for earsplitting nostalgia comprised the preponderance, though the reinstallation of the old guard of Ziggy’s already gives the more spacious new spot an air of familiarity.

From their reception, there was more than a handful of Charlotteans in attendance to see another reunion taking place: that of hardcore band Hopesfall from their Frailty of Words era, their first such show together in more than 10 years. Playing music from their somewhat buried debut and the follow-up EP No Wings to Speak Of, Hopesfall’s performance mirrored Codeseven’s in that it was a performance with a vocalist whose departure signified a definitive chance in direction. Whereas Codeseven went on to explore early Radiohead-inspired sonic arrangements, Hopesfall likewise abandoned their wholly abrasive sound for an alchemic blend of screaming and melody with the departure of vocalist Doug Venable. Considering Venable and the other four members were practically kids when they first took the stage together, little has changed in their own chemistry.

“We’re all in our thirties now,” Venable said as he introduced “From Your Hands.” “We wrote this when we were 19 so I have to apologize.”

No apologies necessary. Venable still possess a voice that can split firewood, though his massaging of his throat toward the end of the bands set suggested his conditioning isn’t what it once was. Codeseven’s Jeff Jenkins, on the other hand, was an indefatigable machine from the moment he took the stage, as he channeled Pretty Hate Machine-era Trent Reznor with his fragile, twisted body language and thousand-yard stare. With stage visuals salvaged from their cinematic rock project Telescreen, the first half of the band’s set was drawn primarily from The Rescue, their first album after the departure of Dave Owen, and Dancing Echoes/Dead Sounds, the band’s final studio album.

The nebulous mood behind the band’s latter era work was reflected in Jenkins every move; he writhed around the stage during the industrial breakdowns of “The Devil’s Interval” and skipped around during the ethereal high points of The Rescue’s “Southie.” The show couldn’t help but feel like a buildup to the halfway point where Dave Owen would take the stage, however. As the band settled into a deep groove toward the end of “Danger,” the words “The following preview has been approved for all audiences” flashed across the monolithic screen behind them. Bassist Jon Tuttle let loose an assaultive bass run and Dave Owen took the second mic in hand to the opening notes of “Steady State” from Division of Labor, his final album with the band.

Owen’s casutic sprechgesang isn’t as apocalyptic as that of Hopesfall’s Venable, but his mere presence turned the entire lower room into a ferocious mosh pit reminiscent of those he incited inside Pablo’s in the mid ’90s. The entire second set was devoted to Division of Labor and its more sonically astute predecessor A Sense of Coalition. Both were incredibly progressive in their time, but there’s something about hearing the Coalition tracks sung by the original two voices that’s sublimely transporting to a jaded 30-year old — especially the much-maligned “Boys of Summer” cover on which they closed. Ask any of the sweaty, bruised, tinnitus-inflicted ex-punks in the front of Codeseven’s reunion gig and they’ll tell you the same thing: Ziggy’s is back baby, and there was no better comeback than this.

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