By Dave Pehling

SAN FRANCISCO (CBS SF) — One of the most beloved and influential bands to emerge from the New York scene during the 1990s, reunited post-hardcore greats Quicksand bring music from their latest album Distant Populations to the Great American Music Hall Friday night.

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Formed in 1990 by former Gorilla Biscuits and Youth of Today member Walter Schreifels (guitar/vocals), the quartet included other NYC hardcore vets ex-Beyond guitarist Tom Capone, drummer Alan Cage (also ex-Beyond and Burn) and bassist Sergio Vega (formerly of Collapse and Absolution). Crafting a tuneful style of concise, pulverizing music that echoed the intensity of Washington, D.C. band Fugazi and fellow New York City group Helmet, Quicksand wasted no time getting in the studio. Their eponymous four-song EP was recorded and released through independent punk label Revelation Records only six weeks after they came together.

The band hit the road, doggedly touring with a variety of like-minded contemporaries (the aforementioned Fugazi and Helmet, Rage Against the Machine as well as the more metallic NY standard bearers Anthrax and White Zombie) and eventually a deal with Polydor Records amid the early ’90s alt-rock gold rush of band signings by major labels.

While it wasn’t a huge commercial success when it was released in 1993, Slip would prove to be massively influential in the years to come between Schreifels’ raging, angst-ridden vocals and the band’s creative use of space and quiet/loud dynamics on such tunes as the ferocious album opener “Fazer,” the brooding “Freezing Process” and “Dine Alone.”

The band would return to touring with a vengeance, performing upwards of 250 shows to support the album and joining fellow upstarts the Offspring just as that group was starting to break out from the underground. By early 1995, Quicksand released its more accessible (yet still crushing) sophomore album Manic Compression, marking the band’s first impact on the charts. But after five years of hectic recording and road work, the outfit would dissolve amid interpersonal conflict and fatigue.

While the members would immediately pursue other creative endeavors, Schreifels and company reunited for the first time in 1998, playing its first show back together in Osaka, Japan, prior to heading into the studio to record a third album. But after past tensions resurfaced, Quicksand went back on hiatus the following year. Much of the following decade was spent on other projects, most notably Schreifels’ successful alt-rock band Rival Schools and Vega becoming a member of Sacramento rock giants Deftones after their bassist Chi Cheng suffered serious injuries in a 2008 car rash that left the musician in a coma (he tragically passed away five years later).

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Quicksand would reunite again in 2012, appearing as the surprise guest at the Revelation Records 25th Anniversary in Pomona, performing a short five-song set. The original line-up would play additional shows before announcing the quartet’s first tour in 15 years in January of 2013. More shows would follow, but the band was largely quiet, refusing to confirm rumors that the members were working on a new album. That silence was broken in the summer of last year with the announcement of a new North American tour that was later followed with confirmation that the group was issuing its first new recordings in 22 year with their 2017 album Interiors on Epitaph Records.

Mixing the band’s trademark pulverizing grooves with moments of melodic shoegazing drone, Quicksand’s latest might not quite measure up to its first two seminal albums, but shows Schreifels and company making a logical progression from the angst and knotty time signatures of their early work.

A fall tour previewing the material prior to its release unfortunately found Copone being arrested for shoplifting in Phoenix after relapsing into drug and alcohol abuse, leading the band to continue as a three piece. A three-song EP of tunes that didn’t make the album entitled Triptych Continuum was released the following year.

While the COVID pandemic shutdown of touring activity for all of 2020 and part of 2021 may have delayed its release, this past summer Quicksand issued another stellar new effort Distant Populations, also on Epitaph Records. Featuring another round of tuneful and often crushing post-punk anthems including lead single “Inversion” and the moody, synth-drum powered cut “Brushed,” the album stands as another creative triumph.

A series of live videos Quicksand recorded at Vinegar Hill Studios that announced the band’s new addition to their touring lineup: second guitarist Stephen Brodsky — best known as a member of Cave In and Mutoid Man. He additionally played in New Idea Society with Quicksand drummer Cage.

For this returning show topping the bill at the reopened Great American Music Hall Friday night, Quicksand will be joined by Texas heavy shoegazers Narrow Head and Seized Up, an all-star Santa Cruz punk outfit featuring Bl’ast singer Clifford Dinsmore backed by Good Riddance bassist Chuck Platt, guitar player Danny Buzzard from ’90s band All You Can Eat and Distillers/Nerve Agents drummer Andy Granelli (all three instrumentalists were also in short-lived power violence crew Fast Asleep). First coming together in 2019, Seized Up issued its ferocious debut album Brace Yourself just over a year ago on Pirates Press Records. Attendees should keep in mind that the Great American Music Hall is following COVID protocols as far as requiring proof of vaccination and masking inside. More details available here.

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Quicksand
Friday, Oct. 15, 7 p.m. $29.50-$32.50
Great American Music Hall