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From celebrating the sweet release of death to praising and empowering humankind, Leftover Crack and Days N Daze put on an incredibly unique and powerful show. In fact, it was the best show of my entire life.

The first band of the lineup at the American Legion in Lancaster, CA was Copout.

Copout, or self the proclaimed “queer commie conspiracy” as their instagram bio reads, kicked off the show strong. Playing songs such as “Hopeless” from 2018 and “Nothing to Lose” from 2016, the band maintained a strong energy throughout their set. After a couple songs, the band hyped up the crowd for the bands to follow and described their controversial first impression of the little-known city of Lancaster: “We had only been here [the venue] for about 4 minutes when we walked in on a couple of guys burning an American flag in the bathroom.”

Throughout the next few songs to follow, Copout kept the rowdy audience moshing with brief pauses of social justice remarks surrounding inclusion and their contempt for law enforcement.

Whether it be their lyrical embrace of hopelessness or their adrenaline-inducing instrumentals, Skullcrack seemed to unleash the carnal nature of an already pumped-up crowd.  The California-based Hardcore band played several tracks off of their latest album, Full Blast, such as “Pyromaniac” and “Never Been Caught.” Amidst their untethered the performance, the band continually provoked the crowd’s disorderly state by spraying beer onto a welcoming pack of punks up front.

Needless to say, Skullcrack’s existential praise was the perfect prelude to Days N Daze.

During a brief intermission following Skullcrack’s set, the crowd vacated the musty room to sprawl out across the desert landscape outside of the venue. Between several packs of cigarettes and backflips off of walls, by the time everyone heard the rhythmic clanking of a washboard, everyone reunited to reinhabit the venue.

Days N Daze, who celebrated their 10 year anniversary as a band just last year, kicked off their set with “Rockabilly Impending Deathfuture” off of their 2013 release Rogue Taxidermy. The moment the band began playing, the crowd was engulfed by the band’s aged guitars, tattered gutbucket, trumpet, back-pocket kazoo, and most of all the juxtaposition between lead singer Jesse Sendejas’ rumbling gutturals and Whitney Flynn’s cosmic melodies. Despite the band’s idiosyncratic arrangement of instruments, as Days N Daze plays, it’s as if each component of the band merges to become a single soundscape that forces the listener into the episodes of mania that each song seems to be written from.

From 2013’s “Post Party Depression” and “Misanthropic Drunken Lover” to 2017’s “Saturday Night Palsy” and (my personal favorite) “Wholesale Failure,” the band managed to play a wide range of their discography while maintaining the same chaotic and genuinely raw feeling as on record. The absolute highlight of their set (and honestly one of the highlights of my life), however, was during their final stretch of the night when the band announced that they would play one of their unrecorded songs. To that, the band pursued to play “Self-destructive Anthem,” in which Jesse and Whitney sing some of their most regretful and shameful moments while the audience follows by exclaiming with the band “Why do I do this? Why?! Why do I do this to myself?” Eventually, the mic was passed down to members of the crowd, as they were given the opportunity to celebrate their faults to be validated by the rest of the crowd. By the end of the song, Jesse leapt into the crowd and was raised above the crowd (like the crust lord that he is) until he was gently placed by various members of the crowd (including myself).

Although during the set of Days N Daze the room itself had distanced itself from the animalistic state it once was, everyone seemed to be more pumped than ever for headliner Leftover Crack. By the time the time the band entered the stage, the pit– which was once generously spaced out near the front of the room, had become a dense vector, enveloping the entire room in it’s wrath.

My sister, being particularly fond of the rage-induced nature of mosh pits, decided to join the uncontrolled center. This being a particularly crowded and chaotic show, she fell amidst the chaos and was trampled by an unaware pack of punks.

Despite being a widely successful band since their formation in 1998, Leftover Crack has maintained the same anti-corporate and DIY mentality over the years. The same way the band’s core values have persisted over the decades, Leftover Crack has also been able to convey these values with the same level of integrity and passion, even with hits such as 2001’s “Born to Die.” Albeit the song being over 10 years old, lead singer Scott  “Stza” Sturgeon pierces the crowds eardrums with the same sense of conviction– just as if he was still drinking in the same squat as he was when he wrote the song.

A common theme the band explores is the notion of grassroots reprisals and people fighting for the rights and values the government is supposed to protect. Whether it be anti-xenophobia, anti-transphobia, anti-fascism, or the simple advocation of freedom and autonomy, the band harnessed the crowds stirring energy and seemingly made us feel mobilized. With their highly politicized lyrics and their unequivocally passionate set, Leftover Crack turned a crowd of punks in the desert into a cohesive unit that felt larger than ourselves.

With a night spent lamenting our frustration and misanthropy, while somehow simultaneously celebrating community and human kind, the Leftover Crack and Days N Daze show not only left me with a face probably permanently indented with studs from leather jackets, but I also felt imprinted with a smile in an unbelievably euphoric haze. Despite a few bruises, the night was extremely cathartic.

After being swallowed by the pit and a post-concert trip to the ER, it turns out my sister broke her shoulder amidst the wrath of Leftover Cracks’ set. Although my sister walked away earning surgery and about fifteen stitches, even she says she would do it all again if she had the chance.

Review by: Lily Nauta