by Andrew Miller

Strike Anywhere

Sun Oct 5

Crystal Ballroom

Unspeakably dire political scenarios have a history of inspiring truly radical underground music--but even with the White House doing everything it can to contribute to that climate, many of today's ostensibly rebellious bands just wanna have fun.

Like Good Riddance--Mary-Kate to its Ashley Olsen--Strike Anywhere combines hyperliterate lyrical content with thrashy but catchy hardcore-influenced rants. Whereas Good Riddance prefers an accusatory second-person voice (it's not too late for you to change your xenophobic point of view), Strike Anywhere prefers convoluted rhetorical questions (Are you working for a promise already betrayed while the dreams of the nation are just a weapon in our hearts?).

Strike Anywhere's dredlocked singer, Thomas Barnett, is obviously intelligent; his interviews prove he can take an inane inquiry such as "Why are bands from Richmond, VA so good at 'keeping it real'?," compliment the questioner, then work "aristocratic retro-society" into an articulate answer. Lyrically, he emphasizes key phrases without reducing complicated issues to shallow sloganeering. Yet the group isn't inaccessibly academic. Using the words "punx" and "bro" profusely on its website, Strike Anywhere still speaks directly to kids in their own language. In other words, it keeps it real, as Richmondites are apparently wont to do.

Too melodic for the crusties, too rough for the Blink bunch and too out-there for the mainstream masses, Strike Anywhere isn't just preaching to the choir--it's speaking to a small sampling of sopranos. The group has a Sisyphean task--provoking positive change by appealing to a tiny portion of relatively small crowds--but its members obviously believe that if they keep rolling the punk rock up the side of the mountain, it will eventually jump the edge and smash oppression.