Contra Code are an up-and-coming punk rock band straight outta Vancouver, celebrating their first studio album release, Wasted Already. It’s a fitting title for the kind of music Contra Code make, full of that fast, hard-partying, no-fucks-given mentality that makes punk so much fun. The album art for Wasted Already, which shows a guy getting bottled in the head and drunkenly grinning, suggesting the gravity of his situation hasn’t sunk in yet, is hilarious. Rocket from Russia, a weekly punk rock show on UBC’s CiTR, presented the release party at the Media Club last Friday.
The supporting acts were a mix of local talents including Cheap High, the Dead Hits, LEVELER, and You Big Idiot. You Big Idiot made quite an impression with their matching bow ties and barbershop quartet outfits, channeling their inner Be Sharps. There’s nothing like an early Simpsons reference to build goodwill and to also make you feel old as the band came out singing “Baby on Board”. And yes, they even had the hats! It was a lively, animated set, full of funny faces and bugged-out eyes, courtesy of the vocalist.
Contra Code’s sound could be described as Rise Against on speed, back when Rise Against screamed more than sang. Contra Code similarly balance their harder edges with bursts of melody, along with moments of three-part harmonies when the bassist and both guitarists all pitch in with vocals.
Contra Code started mere minutes after midnight, which was almost an hour late of the posted set time. (But when have those ever been accurate?) They’re approximate for a reason, just like transit schedules and restaurant waits. And by that time, people were definitely starting to live up to the album title, evidenced by the group of fans who started moshing out in front.
Contra Code sound amazing live, and while they’ve definitely got the audio side of things locked down, the band could improve on the performative aspect a bit. A little more headbanging and jumping around here and there could really amp up the crowd. But that’s only a small critique of an otherwise great night. Much of their merch features a Creature from the Black Lagoon reference, and within the dark, sweaty, beer-spilled confines of the Media Club, I felt like I was among creatures of my kind.
Their band name comes from Contra, the notoriously difficult NES video game of the late 80s, and the legendary Konami Code, of which the game was among the first to ever feature. That famous cheat code of [up] [up] [down] [down] [left] [right] [left] [right] [B] [A] [start] gave the player 30 lives. Judging by Contra Code’s album release party, they’re only getting started.