A mangled taxi screeches to a stop and a red faced driver peaks his head out the window. A surprisingly cheerful man with shaggy hair and thin stubble greets us. Through a cloud of smoke and a raspy voice, he asks where we would like to go. With horns lifted skyward and lit by the fulling moon, a harmonious growl echoes through the streets of our village…NIHILIST. We pile into the sagging cab and soon are in route for Oceanside’s Royal Dive Bar.
The bar, small and dark, throbs at capacity as we arrive. Flood lights shine on random promotions and eager thrashers and beer drinkers line up in front of a grumpy security guard. BASTARD, a killer band,rocks Motorhead inside as we wait. The random butt sucker exits to get their fix and slowly we approach the door. The raw energy of a good time with powerful music lures us like a snake to the heartbeat of rat. Walls pulsate with life as thick riffs and deep drum rolls tease. The door opens like a failing dam. Roars and yelps flood into the dark street. The stench of a dank and overcrowded pub, drenched in sweat and beer, fills my nose as a moist wave of heat embraces me. The security guard gives us an approving nod and we enter the chaos.
We are immediately thrown into the front area where the growth of a mosh pit takes place. At this time the floor is barely active, but already drenched in beer and sweat. I scan the mildly lit room and spot my landmarks. The stage stands lit and bouncing; the bar buzzes with urgency; the bathroom becomes soiled in the back and a group of friends wave. Greetings are made as BASTARD plows through the end of their set. As a solo wales, I observe a row of Pabst tall cans raised into the air by most of the crowd. My initial thought is that someone had snuck in a stash of them. I inquire and am told that they are the Royal Dive special of the night. I nod an make my way to the bar.
As I return, Nihilist begins preparing for their set. Joe carries his sticker laden guitar case and Loren takes out another impressive bass. Sean begins his ritual of unloading his massive arrangement of drums and symbols and the crowd begins to boil. As each drum is secured in position, the crowd creeps forward. The bar survives another wave and the constant echoes of opening cans bounce of the surrounding walls. With all eyes on the stage and fists clinched, Nihilist thrashes into their set.
The floor instantly erupts with yelps and roars. Sweat flings through the air and beer drips from the ceiling. Hair whips and heads bang as the bar’s energy meets its threshold like an overdue volcano. Barely halfway through the first song, the front floor gives birth to a horned offspring; a hairy and sweaty man child of a pit. Instead of cries, it greets the world with howls like a coyote to the moon. Fists are thrown and elbows are flung. Tables are forced to the surrounding walls and chairs are hidden. A single security attempts to create order as a frantic owner pleads. The song finishes and the crowd explodes with cheers.
This cycle of chaos continues as each song begins and ends. Eventually rowdy moshers are escorted out of the bar, but soon find their way back in. Near the end of the show, the owner climbs up on stage and begs for order. The crowd reacts with a simple rebuttal…NIHILIST!!! The show continues for one more song and as Joe’s last riff wales, Loren’s last growl echoes and Sean’s last beat throbs, the crowd simmers. With a sigh of relief from the owner, the crowd tumbles out the front doors and into the startled street.
Nihilist begins the ritualistic break down of their equipment with breaks to chat with their troops. Their beast of a van becomes packed with strings and symbols and the night grows old. Rides are organized and taxis are called. Drunkards scream into the night sky one last time and others slip into the shadows for slumber. Like always, Nihilist kills and the Royal Dive was the evening’s victim.