Before discussing Together PANGEA’s show, I want to talk about punk a little bit. All subgenres of punk get slapped with the stigma of being childish, whiny, and adolescent. Ask your friend about their punk phase and I can all but guarantee they will refer to it with some level of shame, as if it’s something to grow out of. These prejudices against punk can lead music fans to see punk musicians as overgrown emotional high schoolers. While punk music certainly isn’t a bastion of emotional maturity, this view is all too common and incredibly reductive of the artists and music itself. The feelings of heartbreak and angst that are tied to this music never go away, but society tells us that these feelings are immature, and we learn to hide them. Eventually they’ll only arise in certain situations. So when I had a particularly acute rise of these so-called childish emotions just three days before Together PANGEA’s show, all I could do was smile at the serendipity of the timing. And listen to Badillac (2014) seven consecutive times.
Watching William Keegan and the other members of the band set up was oddly humanizing. The intimacy of the the Chapel and their casual stage presence was reminiscent of seeing a friend’s band play a house show. However, as soon as the music starts, it is clear that Together PANGEA is no amateur band. Together PANGEA is what every high school punk band aspires to be. Their first song, “Alive,” begins slow and heavy and the crowd shifts restlessly. By the time the chorus comes around, the crowd is seething and shouting “I don’t need you, I need to get by” right back at Keegan as the band chokes their guitars and bashes their drums. In that moment, everyone remembered exactly how they felt that night they were spurned by a lover or fought with their parents.
There’s no doubt when you’re watching Together PANGEA perform that they’ve played together for a long time. Erik Jimenez, the drummer, is fierce in his playing. You feel every stomp of the bass pedal and smack of the snare all the way through your body. Danny Bengston, the bassist, intersperses his quick riffs with long slides up and down the neck. While all of this chaos unfolds, they never lose time with each other or with Keegan, who rarely breaks out of his nasally scream. The moments when he does are like momentary returns to reality as everyone suddenly becomes aware that they’re human again, and that they’re surrounded by other humans equally entranced by the spectacle unfolding in front of them.
I could try to tell you about all the intricacies of the band’s playing, or their stage presence, or what they could have done better. No matter how much time I spend listing the characteristics of the show, I don’t think it would come close to capturing the feeling of being surrounded by people slamming into each other, the floor slick with sweat and beer, all screaming “My dick is soft” at the top of their lungs. Yeah, it’s silly. Yeah, it’s childish. But when you’re there, it doesn’t matter. When you’re there, you’re fighting to stay upright, fighting to see the band members thrash onstage, and fighting to stay angry. Because Keegan and his bandmates so effortlessly conduct this symphony of meat, cloth and sweat, there is no perfect time to see Together PANGEA. Because when you’re there, you will be so overwhelmed by the disorder that every moment will become exactly what it’s meant to be.
Written by Walker Spence