One of the most notorious punk bands to emerge since the turn of the millennium just came to Houston to rock out at White Oak Music Hall.
Leftöver Crack is a band tied to a lore that dates back years before it’s own inception. Much of it is synonymous with frontman Scott Sturgeon, better known as “Stza,” and it includes everything from tales of donuts being thrown at cops, the oxymoron that makes up the band’s name, protests, arrests, and a certain popular former New York squat house turned co-op.
Now, following the release of the Leftöver Crack: The E-Sides and F-sides double LP compilation album last year, the band has been actively touring, and it’s clear that LÖC intends to continue building this lore, despite being a project that has flirted with indefinite hiatus in the past.
The stacked bill, which also featured Houston’s own and beloved folk punk band, Days N’ Daze, drew in a moderate crowd of what you’d expect to see at any punk show — punks. Studded vests, patched clothes and natural hair color poorly represented, folks packed into the main room of the venue with an air of jubilation, more than could be reasonably expected for a particularly extra cold Tuesday night. Reunions and gatherings between old friends could be observed throughout, indicative of the sense of belonging and camaraderie that’s prevalent in any community dedicated to punk music.
The main room at WOMH is ever the golden standard, but it was interesting to find out how it would accommodate bands that have made homes out of warehouse shows or venues like the late great Walter’s (both incarnations). The stage setup was pretty basic. And the lighting, while a welcoming addition to any show, didn’t do much more than what was asked or needed from it. Every band on the show has put on killer performances with much less in the past, so it’s not as though stage lighting was going to the subject of focus at any point. Perhaps the most amusing thing about the venue was to see musicians that so represented the DIY aesthetic and lifestyle play in such a pristine and new looking place.
If the sets by Cop/Out and Easy Action hadn’t warmed up the crowd, Days N’ Daze surely did. Their unique brand of folk, self-titled “H-Town Thrashgrass,” went over well over with the audience. It never ceases to amaze me how the collective is able to showcase such an affinity for song composition while using instruments like a gutbucket or a washboard in lieu of drums and still sound as thrashy and heavy as any band out there. After a healthy 45 minute showing and a guest appearance by Stza himself, DnD set the stage for the good, the bad, and the Leftöver Crack to come out and put on a 17-song clinic that included:
- “Archaic Subjugation”
- “Don’t Shoot”
- “500 Channels”
- “Life Is Pain”
- “Bedbugs Beyond”
- “Corrupt Vision”
- “The Lie of Luck”
- “Gay Rude Boys Unite”
- “Ya Can’t Go Home”
- “Rock the 40oz.”
- “Born To Die”
- “Operation MOVE”
- “Crack Rock Steady”
- “Go Fuck Yourself”
- “Gang Control”
For the longest time, a Leftöver Crack show usually meant you got to see all your favorite songs from their first two albums, released in 2001 and 2004 respectively, but with the release of Constructs of the State in 2015, the setlist is now freshened up with new material, which dominated the first half of the set. Opening up with the intro and first song of the newer album, the performance saw Stza clad in a business suit, undoubtedly a rare sight, which he stripped little by little over the course of the show, revealing the Subhuman’s t-shirt underneath.
The latter half of the show revisited some classics. And while some didn’t make an appearance, it just goes to show how abundant Leftöver Crack’s short discography is.
A random white balloon was batted back and forth between audience and band at half set, and the anthemic nature of the music as a whole had scores of people rushing to the front to sing choruses about the police state, intolerance for racism and homophobia, the bleak future, and being infested with lice. The fact that the venue wasn’t packed to the gills actually served the show better as an experience. Since no punk show is complete with out a good pit, the extra space allowed for a sizable one and still offered efficient flow to the bar or merch tables without having to step on toes or bump shoulders.
You never know what you’ll get when you see LÖC live. Once at a show at Java Jazz years ago, Stza ended the show early after successfully antagonizing Houston punks by ranting about how “Texas pride” was stupid. Stories like that aren’t uncommon in the aforementioned lore of the band, but the fact is, when Leftöver Crack shows up to do what they do best, it’s an experience you simply can’t miss.
This show was a reminder that there isn’t a song they’ve made that won’t be well received when performed and sang along to without renewed vigor. The intimidating nature of the pit that’s present in every entry of the setlist suddenly seems warm and welcoming if it means you can clamor to front and scream lyrics into the mic each time Stza presents the crowd with the opportunity. But half the experience was brought on by the people who showed up to support bands they love and hang with brothers and sisters, new and old.
How so much hype and aggression could be represented in such a successfully positive environment will forever be an enigmatic characteristic concerning punk music and shows. Either way, it shouldn’t ever be forgotten how a bunch of punks and activists came to Houston’s newest and prettiest venue and turned it into a house show through sheer energy and camaraderie alone.