Live at the Black Cat: 12/26/1996, Washington, DC

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To most rock fans, Scream is the band Dave Grohl drummed for before Nirvana, and the one he and old pal Franz Stahl were in before the Foo Fighters. Those with longer memories of this scorchingly original Dischord D.C. great know better. Grohl didn't show up on the Scream scene until seven years in, replacing original drummer Kent Stax on the fourth and fifth LPs, before the group disbanded. And those two OK hard rock-with-edge albums were a far cry from the blinding-fast style Scream first exhibited. Guess what? This one-time-only, 1996 X-mas hometown reunion gig heads back to the 1981-1984 heavy thrashers. It's a nice turn that Grohl cameos on the skins on "No More Censorship" and kicks butt like he always does. However, the rest of the night belongs to Stax and the other three originals, augmented by 1984-1990 second guitarist Robert Lee Davidson, and they play at the speed of missiles. Have a listen to "Bedlam," "Bet You Never Thought," and "Human Behavior" and say that you can't feel the blasts of heat and sweat dripping from their mighty power. Think of the real anger and energy of youth first awakening to harsh social/political truths, played just as passionately even now when the members are in their mid-thirties. Once in you, it's in you forever, summoned on a few hot rehearsals' notice. In 1983, Scream trailed only Bad Brains and Minor Threat in being the most intense hardcore band in both D.C. and the East, and they were certainly as explosive. The way their sound still leaps off the stage, with the quickness and bursting speed of a pouncing cheetah, makes you recall the raw conviction, guts, and cultural/political commentary punk used to be known for.

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