Punk rock takes many forms, some simply sloppy, and others eager to intelligently assimilate a roughshod heaviness with strong musicianship.
On Friday, two rather distinct strains of the music we casually refer to as punk took over the Buffalo outer harbor for a serious throwdown.
Who won? The folks who realized that the weather in Buffalo changes every hour or so, and made it down to the site of the old Pier for the Dropkick Murphys/Snapcase show, despite the nasty weather that lingered just before showtime.
Headliners the Dropkick Murphys play traditional Irish music as punk, while opener, Buffalo's own Snapcase, explored the hard-core aspect of punk, and melded metal to the proceedings in a manner that threatened to blow the headliner off the stage.
First Snapcase, then.
This Buffalo-born band is widely considered to be one of the progenitors of hard core in the Northeast, and based on Friday's show, it's easy to understand why. Blending the influence of Washington, D.C.'s hard-core scene - Fugazi in particular - the band took the stage with a serious attitude and then proceeded to leave everything the band members had on that wooden plank.
Fronted by vocalist Daryl Taberski, the band - formed in 1990, and by this point, father figures in the hard-core scene that developed in the 1990s - melded the heaviest of riffs to torrid lyrics, mostly rhythmically shouted by Taberski.
The songs themselves - "Incarnation," "Cognition" and "Zombie Prescription" offering the strongest examples - melded an almost avant garde sense of the atonal to seriously muscular chord changes.
Guitarists John Salemi and Frank Vicario led the way, their intertwined riffs, open-tuned chords and visceral lead lines combining to underpin Taberski's rants, while the rhythm section of bassist Dustin Perry and drummer Tim Redmond shoveled coal in the engine room.
The effect was at times overwhelming, as the raw power of the riffs met the angry intelligence of the lyrics to create a wall of aggressive intelligence.
Snapcase is one of the truly great bands to have emerged from Buffalo in the past several decades. Friday's show reminded the faithful - who appeared in the thousands - just why this group became such a revered entity in the first place.
Boston's Dropkick Murphys simply tore the outer harbor apart with a set of Celtic punk that blurred the lines between gorgeous melodies and full-frontal punk aggression.
I'll cop right away to the fact that this Boston band's loyalty to its hometown hits hard with me, being a Massachusetts native. More significantly, the Murphys tore it up, even if the band's set was a bit on the short side.