One Last Night with Insect Warfare

At 6pm, just as the thermometer ticked the highest mark of the day, my buddy Chris(tkiller) and I pulled up to the record store. Sound Exchange, an eclectic record shop in Montrose, is an old house immediately surrounded by liquor stores, foreclosed homes, and high-dollar gentrification projects. It was Summer in Houston and the sun blasted oppressive heat on the cracked parking lot, like an endless dutch oven from a vengeful, flatulent god. We arrived two-and-a-half hours early for the most unexpected show of the year. Neither the humidity nor the stench of dozens of crust punks could dampen the mood that day. Insect Warfare announced a last-minute set in this tiny record store, their last U.S. show ever, and there was no way we were gonna miss it.

Sound ExchangeHouston might be the hottest place on Earth. From the manicured suburbs of The Woodlands, to the derelict shotgun shacks of Third Ward, all the way down to the jellyfish-infested waters of Galveston Bay, the defining characteristic of this 600 square mile behemoth is sticky, soul-sucking heat. This savage swampland is a fertile breeding ground for mosquitos and black-clad kids that love extreme metal.

Anti-music, anti-fashion, anti-positivity, Insect Warfare was born in Houston with a desire to channel the primitive grindcore of early Napalm Death and disgusting noisecore of early Anal Cunt. Formed in 2004, Insect Warfare thumbed their noses at the artistic “fashion grind” exemplified by popular acts at the time like The Locust by embracing uncool, rage-fueled grind. The band recruited Dobber Beverly, a human shaped extreme metal drum machine, in advance of their debut LP, 2007’s World Extermination. By 2009, the band had gained a much larger following when Earache Records reissued World Extermination. If you wanted to catch an Insect Warfare show after hearing that reissue, you were shit out of luck; the band had broken up.

Insect Warfare The Locust
In the post-MySpace era, the band had picked up a huge following of internet metal nerds. This long-defunct band thrilled grindcore fans the world over by announcing a headlining reunion appearance at this year’s Obscene Extreme Fest in the Czech Republic. Could it be that the band was reforming? Making new music? Touring again? No, no, and fuck no. The band planned one final show at Obscene Extreme to ostensibly celebrate the 10th anniversary of World Extermination before putting a final nail in the coffin. You can imagine my surprise when the band announced Thursday that they would play a show Saturday night in Houston. One last U.S. gig before putting a bow on it.

Insect Warfare were there at Sound Exchange to play an event celebrating 10 years of excellent metal artwork from acclaimed visual artist Daniel “Sawblade” Shaw. Shaw, a deadlock’d mountain of a man, had the unenviable task of setting up tables to display his wares among the clumsy throngs of half-drunk punks. Fortunately, his merch survived til the end of the show so I could greedily purchase it. If you’re not familiar with his work with Insect Warfare, Mammoth Grinder, or Municipal Waste, do yourself a favor and check out his portfolio.

In the hours before the band took the “stage” behind the clear display cases, crust punks guzzled brown liquor from paper bags while old metalheads sang and formed a chorus of air guitars to Overkill tunes from behind the register. Young metal nerds sweated through their newest battle vests, abuzz with 40s of malt liquor and the excitement of seeing this rare house show of a band that had supposedly hung up their sticks years ago. All around, sleeveless arms proudly displayed Texas Death Metal tattoos.

For two hours we drained bottles of Lone Star, every drop of moisture immediately sweated from my pores. By the time the band donned their instruments, the room was packed as tightly and as oily as a can of sardines. “WHO ARE WE? WHO ARE WE?”, vocalist Rahi Geramifar yelled to the crowd, clearly relishing his role as a grind rockstar. Guitarist Beau Beasley plainly announced “If you break anything in this fucking store, we stop.”

A gentleman that was the spitting image of Beavis and Butthead nemesis Todd yelled out with a demand for violence. By the time Insect Warfare unleashed their first blast of grind, two overweight, bald men threw clumsy ham-sandwich fists at each other and Todd kindly helped escort the gentlemen right out the front door. As the band lurched into “Manipulator,” a 250-pound man flew unsteadily above the packed audience, knocking out ceiling lights before landing with a thud on the sticky hardwood floors.

Dobber behind the skins was a sight to behold. The drummer was blasting at a blinding fast speed amid the chaos of the cramped room. Cheap beers soared above the room for the entire 13-second runtime of “Street Sweeper.” All around the room, punks were furiously moshing to the grindcore oldies. Rahi jokingly (but very accurately) declared that the crowd was a bunch of “fuckin’ nerds.”

And less then 30 minutes later it was all over. No opener, no encores, no dogs, no hamsters. As the closing blast rang, I quickly escaped the room and found dozens of people milling about in the parking lot, either unable or unwilling to get inside with the oppressive heat and stank. I briefly contemplated suicide as an alternative to dealing with the heat as Christkiller’s brother staggered up to us, utterly soaked in Miller Lite and prouder than a peacock. “You see that shit?”, he yelled, “41 years old and I held it down like a kid. Got-damn.” Got-damn indeed.

Insect Warfare is playing Obscene Extreme in the Czech Republic next week. Go see ’em if you can. If you can’t make an international trip on such a short notice, you can watch video of their last U.S. performance below.

(Images Via, Via, Via)

  • Do you still have a gf after this?

  • Dubbbz

    Houston’s zoning laws are super wacky. There was probably a five-star hotel across from the liquor store.

    • Grandpa’s Magic Fleshlight

      Same way with here and Hampton. The worst part of Hampton (Riff Raff Road) is literally next to downtown/jail and high end condos. Most of Hampton is built that way, with complete slums right next to million dollar condos, crack blocks right next to police stations, expensive historical homes right next to whole areas that look like something straight out of Flint, etc.

      • Ayreonaut

        Sounds like Jersey.. I’ve only been there once but as I was driving through, I saw a Lamborghini dealer, next door to a pawn shop with bars in the windows, next to a no name gas station with bars in the windows, next door to a Maserati dealership

        • Walt Whitman’s Admiral Cat

          Kinda the same in Chicago. When I first moved there, I lived on Damen and Division, which literally had a rich area across from the projects (Lathrop Homes). And my place in Hyde Park (Obama’s neighborhood was a 15 minute walk away from Robert Taylor Homes, one of the worst places in Chicago at the time (it got torn down over a decade ago). Chicago’s definitely a neighborhood to neighborhood kind of place, but you’ll definitely see rich right next to poor (Bronzesville is an excellent example of that).

          • Ayreonaut

            I’ve never been to Chicago but that sounds even worse. The juxtaposition is very unsettling to me… I come from a land where the nearest gas station is 10 miles away and the closest grocery store is a half hour. Just farms and forests out in my area. And even when I make it to the closest city by me, there is a definitive rich part of town, and a definitive ghetto, and they are very separated

  • Words can’t describe how jealous I am of you Joe. Insect Warfare was one of the few grind bands out there that brought that oldschool grinding essence back into the grindcore genre and made it exciting again. They did this without any polished production or bullshit. Just some no bullshit, raw as fuck grind at the highest quality. Insect Warfare is no doubt one of the most important grind bands of all time. Glad you were able to catch their show dude, I’ve watched the youtube footage nonstop the past couple of days.

    • My Houston friends used to tell me about seeing Insect Warfare in high school and I’ve always been so jealous. I’m still thrilled that I got to see this thing.

    • World Extermination is one the best grind albums of all time. That’s not up for debate.

  • Leif Bearikson

    I should have just bailed on work for this. I’ll be working every day until I fucking die, but this is the only time I could’ve seen IW.

    • I wish you had come along. It was fun AND we ate at Chilis afterwards.

      • Leif Bearikson

        Well now you’re just rubbing it in

        • Dubbbz

          Don’t worry, bear. We will make him jealous of our palling around next weekend when we eat Burger King mac’n’Cheetos.

  • Abradolf Lincler

    glad you decided to go, sounds like a fun show

  • By the looks of the video and the image of the record store, I am surprised that b didn’t collapse! Fucking sweet, Joe.


    • I am implying the riffs were too heavy for the building to handle.

      • Replace “Riffs” with “Blasts”.

        • You can almost see the stench Joe described in this video.

          • Abradolf Lincler

            my butt’s swampy just watching that

          • That’s good for the crust pants.

          • Abradolf Lincler

            im making a vest, i dont think i have it in me to make pants

          • Pants are a bitch to sew anyways.

          • Abradolf Lincler

            Planning on ordering some Loits and ad hominem records on Friday

          • The place was full of folks wearing the full black get up. Fuck alllllll that.

          • Yeah, no shit man. So uncomfortable. That’s why I like it up here in the north 😉

          • Dubbbz

            I hope you were wearing chubbies and a white tee.

          • psure that is what he is hinting at lul

          • Oh absolutely.

          • Dagon

            Besides erections and fat people, what does chubbies mean?

          • Dubbbz

            frat shorts. usually pastel

          • Dagon


          • Grandpa’s Magic Fleshlight

            Lol, I didn’t know either. For a moment, I thought Joe was getting a chubbie being surrounded by all the sweaty crust punks.

          • One must embrace the swamp. Feel the swamp. Love the swamp.

          • CyberneticOrganism

            SWVMP VSS

  • If you are looking for some killer Insect Warfare shirts…

    • Leif Bearikson

      Warlord rules. Great shirts for cheap. They’ve got some killer Demilich ones as well.

  • Ayreonaut

    Very cool experience.

  • Still my favorite release by them. So noisy…

  • CyberneticOrganism

    Excellent, Joe. I will buy you a Lone Star at a concert some day.

  • I am curious about the tickets for the show. Did you have to buy them? Or first come first serve? So many through the door? Seems messy.

    • Free show and BYOB. The band could have easily charged and went home with serious dough but they didn’t.

  • Did they play this? The record store would’ve been toast after this jam.

    • Haha, not kidding here man. I actually got this comp and World Extermination at Hot Topic. At one point they sold some great albums. That didn’t last long though… Lolz.

      • Grandpa’s Magic Fleshlight

        I got a Punto Omega CD from there years and years ago. Probably the only thing they’ve ever carried that’s up my alley.

    • Unfortunately no. Love that comp though

  • Can’t really say I care for The Locust but holy shit is that poster infantile. Hardcore kid pride bullshit doesn’t get any more meaningful or dangerous when you dress it up with grind.

  • Dagon

    This was a super cool article. I love how you painted a very vivid image of the city. The heat and the moisture make it sound like home. Yuck.

  • Great review, xXJoeXx!

  • Waynecro

    Thanks for sharing this awesome experience with those of us who couldn’t attend. How much do you owe your lady for this one? If sitcoms are any reflection of real life, you’re going to be going to an opera soon, or your mother-in-law is going to move in with you for a while.

    • Going by sitcom rules I’ll probably have to take a dance class with her now.

      • Waynecro

        Aw, man. That’s pretty serious. Just don’t make the situation worse by getting too chummy with the spicy dance instructor.

  • “Soaked in Miller Lite.”
    So, uh…

    completely fucking sober?

    • I suppose I could have been more clear here, but his buddy was dumping cans of Miller Lite all over his face and head regions.

  • Stockhausen

    This was a stellar read.