Swedish punk and hardcore legends The Refused descended on New York this past week and played three shows. I caught them at their Music Hall of Williamsburg show and caught a high energy performance drawing mostly from their classic 1998 album The Shape of Punk to Come, but they also gave a sneak peak of their new album Freedom, their first in 17 years, which will be out on June 30th.

Out of the gate their first single off of Freedom, “Elektra,” started the set off in a manic fashion, with its metallic riffage picking up right where they left off 17 years before. “Elektra” slid nicely into a handful of older songs with some anthems like “Rather Be Dead” off of 1996’s Songs to Fan the Flames of Discontent and had the audience screaming along with every word. Other musical highlights were classics like “Refused are Fucking Dead” and “Liberation Frequency” which felt fresh next to new songs like “Dawkins Christ” and “366.” They played 10 of the 12 songs off The Shape of Punk to Come, which made for an appealing setlist for casual fans and older fans alike. There was also, of course, the obligatory mosh pit, stage divers, and crowd surfers going at it in full force.

Singer Dennis Lyxzén was in good humour all night, sounding alternately like a screaming banshee and spoken word poet, and his banter between songs going from defiantly idealistic to self-deprecatory. His dancing was flamboyantly charismatic, and made up for rest of the band who were locked in an intense stoicism. At one point he addressed the crowd, thanking them for coming, saying something to the effect of ‘we know most of you are in your 30s, and we appreciate you coming out and dancing as hard as you do. You’re going to feel it tomorrow.’ At another point he called everyone in the crowd ‘revolutionaries’ with an appropriate offhandedness.

The Refused are a band that was underappreciated in their heyday, broke up at the creative height, and came back in a move that was a blatant contradiction to the anti-capitalistic values. However, it’s easy to pick apart political idealism and contradiction, and forget that there’s a… desire… a… dare I say… market for their intelligent angst and heavy riffs. As Thursday night’s show displayed, they’ve come back to an adoring and loyal generation of people who have grown over the past 17 years to love their music and yearn for more. Some of them were there from the beginning, some were hopeless poseurs (like myself), but none of that really matters when the music starts.

My favorite moment of the night was when I scrambled down to the pit for their “hit” song “New Noise” and being a part of a couple hundred other people who all screamed, together, the opening line which was simply: “Can I Screammmm?!!” Nothing could have felt better on a Thursday night than letting off some steam and thrashing about for a bit with The Refused.


Article: Steven Klett



Be first to comment