Santa Cruz hardcore band Scowl had a momentous past year, experiencing a steady claim to fame through their tours with The Bronx, Drug Church and Circle Jerks, in addition to appearances at high-profile festivals like Sound and Fury 2022. And it’s only the beginning, with plans to bring their gritty, old-school hardcore sound to Coachella 2023. Now, on the eve of their tour with Show Me The Body, they’ve premiered a brand new single, ‘Opening Night,’ and they came to dance.
This is the first taste of Psychic Dance Routine, due out on April 7th through Flatspot Records. The EP will follow 2021’s How Flowers Grow, and encompass a whole different side to Scowl’s sound, if ‘Opening Night’ is any indication of what’s to come. Drawing influence from grunge, 2000’s indie rock and 60’s surf rock, Scowl invites listeners to walk a mile in their white go-go boots, offering a glimpse into the lives and pressures of touring musicians.
‘Opening Night’ grips from the start, leading with guitar feedback before transitioning into a low, chugging riff. Vocalist Kat Moss immediately jumps into the chorus, showcasing the cleaner side of her vocals. While the song is energetic and in-your-face, it has its quieter moments, often stripping down to the drums and simple guitar feedback before swelling back up. The song still has some of Scowl’s signature bite, closing with a screamed portion from Moss as she gets enveloped in the chaos of the song’s instrumentation. It’s a catchy crowd-pleaser, and that’s all part of the plan.
For a band that tours as much as Scowl, it’s easy to get lost in the monotony of the lifestyle, and the impact that has on the body and mind. Moss sings “it’s all the same / I forget where I am,” referring to the city-hopping the band does from night to night, and how disorienting it becomes. They claim that musicians become an object, or “just a face,” as they entertain—first to their audience before internalizing it themselves. It creates a contrast, and a distance, between the vulnerable yet lively “song and dance” they put on each night, when in reality the exhibition of it all can be numbing.
Thrashy, groovy, and irresistible, ‘Opening Night’ is a fresh new direction for Scowl, and reflects their status as one of the most coveted bands in hardcore right now. Dance along to their routine, but expect more from these faces in 2023.