his is the way to go out: on top. At the height of your popularity. At home, at a sold-out show, with fans flying in from faraway places. With friends on stage and in the audience. After recording some of the most inspired material of your career. When no one else wants you to. And you make damn sure an army of video cameras capture it all.
061502 documents the final show that Botch played. Along with Coalesce, Converge, and Cave In, the Washington band helped revolutionize hardcore punk in the late ’90s. Courtesy of Dischord Records, hardcore had already begun moving into its “post-” stage. But Botch and its peers added distinct elements that remain influential today: dissonance, odd meters, the occasional thrash riff. Without Botch, there would be no Norma Jean, Every Time I Die, Fear Before the March of Flames, or any of today’s mathcore bands with increasingly long names.
As 061502 demonstrates, Botch shows were violent affairs, more so for the band than its audience, but Botch knew when to rein things in. Songs threatened to skid out of control, then hit the brakes with slower, simpler grooves. The band’s second full-length, We Are the Romans, was crushing yet expansive, exploring choral singing and even drum ’n’ bass. But after recording An Anthology of Dead Ends, Botch called it quits, citing burnout. The band convened at The Showbox in Seattle on June 15, 2002 for one last hurrah.
Watch the DVD first; the accompanying CD, while beefy-sounding, is merely the audio memento. As final gigs go, this one’s ideal: manic performances, witty stage banter, a stage diver in a gorilla suit. Bassist Brian Cook is even mistakenly hauled offstage by security in the chaos of the final song. Sure, the band drops a few notes here and there. As Cook points out in the hilarious commentary track, he starts the first song singing backup vocals to the wrong verse. But Botch’s feral energy more than makes up for lost notes.
Guitarist Dave Knudson, in particular, is a revelation. In one song, he bends harmonics behind the nut of his guitar, a trick he learned from watching David Bowie on Saturday Night Live. In another song, he creates grinding riffs by recklessly twisting his tuning pegs. At one point, he samples his guitar, loops the riff, then gets on his knees and manipulates the loop by hand with effects pedals. The loop becomes a scream, Cook seems not to care, and when the camera cuts back to Knudson, he’s either humping his amp or hanging on for dear life.
With many cameras and types of film stock at hand, the editing resembles Wong Kar-wai having a seizure. It’s appropriate for Botch’s spastic style, if unnecessary; the bonus single-camera footage of a show in Bellingham, WA is actually more powerful. But the sound is good, and the lighting fits the songs. The package comes with historical photos, candid liner notes by Cook, and gorgeous, textured artwork by Isis frontman Aaron Turner. “This is your last opportunity to do whatever you want to do,” Cook tells the crowd before the final song. In 061502, Botch did it right.