To celebrate the 20th anniversary of their debut S/T album, Dischord Records’ Black Eyes are reuniting for three East Coast shows in Spring of 2023. To mark the occasion, Dischord will reissue the LP on vinyl for the first time since 2009.
The group formed in 2001 and quickly became notorious for their visceral, percussion-heavy live performances. With two drummers, two bassists, two vocalists, one guitarist bolstered by an array of auxiliary percussion, the five piece blended exuberantly danceable post punk with an abrasive, caustic wildness inspired in equal measure by hardcore, free jazz, and 20th century composition. Singers Hugh McElroy and Daniel Martin-McCormick wove breathless tirades around each other, building densely-layered lyrical deluges exploring trauma, the crisis of masculinity, queer sexuality, a post 9-11 political landscape and the early rumblings of 21st century fascism. Drummers Mike Kanin and Dan Caldas engineered a roiling rhythmic interplay that maintained a tight groove as often as it erupted in furious explosions. Bassist-turned-saxophonist Jacob Long and McElroy meanwhile weighted the rhythm with thick, dubby undertows and punctuated it with springy, lithe countermelodies, while Martin-McCormick unleashed sprays of flinty chaos on guitar.
Their tenure as a band lasted a mere two-and-a-half years, but in that short time they left a lasting mark on the punk underground. Across exactly 200 shows and two albums on Dischord (2003’s S/T and 2004’s Cough), the group insistently maintained a feverish, experimental energy that ran counter to the happy-to-be-commodified spirit of the era. Album tracks like “Deformative,” “A Pack of Wolves” and “Someone Has His Fingers Broken” became anthems to those who know, while the blinding energy of their live shows left audiences stunned.
The group is heading back to venues they know well for this anniversary: Washington DC’s Black Cat, where they played their final show, and Philadelphia’s First Unitarian Church, a regular stop on tour. In between, they make their Market Hotel debut in NY. Additionally the group is engaged in an ongoing archival project, to be announced in 2023. This handful of shows allows the band to reinterpret their music in a fresh landscape, draw connections to younger artists whose work parallels their own, and celebrate a run which ended too soon.