The Casualties' angry, loud, fist-pumping anthems certainly speak to disenchanted, misunderstood, 16-year-old punks. That may be a modest goal, but if you're angry, confused about the world, drunk and 16, it means an awful lot to hear someone literally singing your song, and that's exactly what The Casualties did Friday night at ES Jungle. Think of them as punk youth ministers -- and they did play, after all, in a converted church basement, Broad Ripple's ES Jungle, which felt like a real venue for the first time, with new curtains flanking the stage and improved lighting.
The Casualties were never renowned for their songwriting, but they can throw together powerful punk rock sing-alongs, which the audience obliged from the beginning of the set. Full of chanting and "oohs," much of The Casualties' catalog wouldn't be out of place at a rowdy soccer match. Songs like "The Great American Progress" and "System Failed Us ... Again" hint at political issues, but without getting so wordy that they aren't fun. For instance, in "The Great American Progress," lead singer Jorge Herrera screams his beliefs about immigrants in America: "The Chinese, forced to obey / Submission, abandoned ways / The Irish came, considered bums / Fend for themselves, crammed into slums."
The Sorely Trying Days opened, ripping through a stellar set of brutal stoner-hardcore. Mouth Sewn Shut and The Krum Bums followed them up with unoriginal, but energetic sets of heavy hardcore/street punk. By the time The Casualties took the stage, the Jungle was packed, mohawks and studs stretching back as far as the eye could see.