Bay Area boys, Culture Abuse, recently played Detroit in the basement of St. Andrew’s Hall, otherwise known as The Shelter. There’s going to be some bias here, because I straight up love this band. I was pumped to shoot them because I’ve never seen them before.
The band has been on the road since September 7 touring in support of their new album, “Bay Dream.” Bay Dream, the band’s sophomore album post-ceding their initial 2016 release “Peach,” was put out on Epitaph Records. There will be no mention of a sophomore slump, because there isn’t one. The record rules, just go listen to it.
This band is cool in so many ways, but I think my favorite thing about them is their ability to play anywhere with almost any band. From Turnstile, to Nothing, to Green Day (at the personal request of Billie Joe Armstrong), they are the perfect utility band. I’ve said this before and I’ll say it again, mixed bills are the future of live music. Times are changing with the advancement of technology, especially when it comes to streaming music. In order to get people out of their houses and into dimly lit venues, their has to be some sort of incentive. Different genres on the same stage is the way to go, in my opinion.
Anyways, on to the actual show. There was definitely a moody vibe throughout The Shelter, mostly due to the solid, unchanging blue stage lights illuminating the dark basement. That’s usually a nightmare for photographers, especially when you’re unable to use a flash. But in this case, it added another dynamic to the already existing DIY punk/hardcore undercurrent. Culture Abuse played to a somewhat full room consisting of both younger people and a few adults, which was cool to see. Their set went off without a hitch, and they played some of their more prominent songs (and my personal favorites) Jealous & Dream On from their 2016 full-length Peach. Those two songs saw an energized reaction from the crowd.
The frontman, David Kelling, is a fantastic fit for this band. He kept the room engaged and had fun in between songs. Unknown to many is the fact that Kelling has cerebral palsy, and he’s stated in the past that he’s struggled to deal with the day-to-day effects, especially when it comes to the live show. In a great article from The Guardian, Kelling discusses this further:
‘People often assume that the lead singer of Culture Abuse is wasted. In fact he has cerebral palsy. “They think I’m fucked up no matter what,” says David Kelling, “so I’ll just act like I’m partying to make people more comfortable.”’
This was all definitely noticeable throughout the purgatory of on-stage banter. He was partying and having a great time, and that aura emanated throughout the room. At one point he started going on about something philosophical before saying, “This is what happens when you get high as fuck,” and “I don’t know what the fuck is going on, but it’s sick.” It was hilarious and everyone there had some good laughs.
There’s not much else to say. Culture Abuse is sick, and they played a great show. Support them.