Okay, now that's cleared up, I will have to admit that I like some albums by Shelter quite a lot. Even though I don't agree with their religious beliefs, many of their lyrics are actually more about philosophy than about some higher being (I think their first albums did include a lot more religious mombajomba, but my voyage with Shelter starts with Mantra). And in that way they're quite inspiring when you need some uplifting after listening to depressive sludge metal for too much weeks in a row. It's like springtime arrived after a long winter! Although I'm 100% fan of keeping religion out of hardcore, you may call Mantra, When 20 Summers Pass and The Purpose The Passion my guilty pleasures...
Flashback to 1996 or 1997. A friend of mine bought Mantra and of course the same day I had a tape of it. My knowledge of punk and hardcore was limited to The Offspring, Green Day, Rancid, Ramones and the Punk-O-Rama 2 comp, so maybe I could regard this the first 'hardcore' album I listened to (although listening back to this great album, somehow it also fit in with the rap-rock like Rage Against the Machine and poppunk bands of the time). I loved it! In fact, reading the lyrics of civilised man was actually raising my awareness of vegetarianism, so I guess that's a winner.
On 12 February 1998 Shelter played in Amsterdam, at the Milky Way venue. Of course my friend and I had to go to see them. We were both 17 years old, but in those days that did not cause as much concern when you wanted to obtain some alcohol or weed. It was only three months earlier that I first tried smoking weed and it was okay, even though I never was a huge fan of it.
But anyway, that day we were waiting for Shelter to play and checking out some of the merch (even though we didn't have money to buy anything) and watching all these hardcore kids with X's on their hands. Even though I wasn't aware at the time, this was probably the time the straight edge scene in Amsterdam was at its top, with the Return of the X-Men Festival taking place just half a year before. So, there were many hxc kids in there, and my friend and I, completely unaware of what the X really meant (remember, no WikiHow on how to be straight edge existed in those days!), decided to show how hardcore we were, and went to borrow a marker and X up as well. Probably we were already 'under the influence' while doing it. To add to our innocent hypocrisy, we still had a joint to smoke. That was the time that smoking inside venues was still allowed, so while watching Nastasee playing some sort of Dog Eat Dog style raprock (still, their version of 'Why can't we be friends' was a lot better than Smash Mouth's), we decided to sit on the floor at the back of the balcony and smoke the famous Dutch grass, passing the joint in our X'ed up hands... I know it sounds stupid, but it's also a lovely story of youthful ignorance, right? What I remember of Shelter was that they played an energetic show. Fortunately I don't remember them playing many songs from Beyond Planet Earth, instead focusing on the material from Mantra.
Later on we actually understood a little more about what hardcore and straight edge was about. During my late teens, early twenties, I've had my straight edge moments, a few months at a time, than selling out again... But now it's been already about ten years since my last beer, so although the start of my relation with the sXe was a bit bumpy, so I guess in the end this story ends well.
|Classic Shelter photo: Ray Cappo with Porcell in the background|
Even though Dynamo traditionally was a metal festival, the 1996 line-up reflected the popularity of skatepunk and hardcore at the time. Both on the Skatefest and the main stage, there were plenty of skatepunk/core bands around: Slapshot, Down by Law, Millencolin, Pennywise, Satanic Surfers, CIV and of course Shelter. That last one played twice actually: on Saturday at the main stage and on Sunday at the skatefest. So as you can hear on this recording (which is not top-notch, but good enough in my opinion), man familiar faces met at Dynamo. And probably that's why Sammy Siegler (Side by Side, Youth of Today, Judge, Rival Schools and, uhm, Limp Bizkit) joins Shelter for a rendition of Youth of Today's 'Break Down the Walls'. Pretty cool stuff if you ask me!!
SHELTER - Live @ Dynamo Open Air 1996
- The Message of the Bhagavat
- Letter to a Friend
- Civilised Man
- Here we go
- We can work it out (The Beatles)
- Break Down The Walls (Youth of Today)
- Disengage (Youth of Today)