San Diego post-hardcore band Hot Snakes is back and better than ever

Hot Snakes

Origin story: During a break from ’90s garage-punk favorite Rocket From the Crypt, San Diego guitarist John Reis began recording with drummer Jason Kourkounis of Washington, D.C. outfit The Delta 72. Reis brought in Rick Froberg—his ex-bandmate from earlier groups Pitchfork and Drive Like Jehu—to handle lead vocals and second guitar, and Hot Snakes was born. The band released its first album in 2000, followed by two more in 2002 and 2004, before calling it quits in 2005.

Second act: Hot Snakes started performing sporadically again in 2011—Reis, Froberg and longtime bassist Gar Wood, with Kourkounis and 2003 replacement Mario Rubalcaba (Earthless, Off!) alternating on drums—before eventually releasing its first album in 14 years, the excellent Jericho Sirens, in 2018. Drownedinsound.com called it “yet another example of Hot Snakes at the top of their game,” while the The Skinny wrote that “in places Hot Snakes’ fourth album is so good, it even puts newer bands who have come up in the meantime to shame.”

Sound:Emphatic, no-frills post-hardcore, delivered in song bursts that rarely stretch far beyond three minutes in duration. Fans of mythical noisy indie acts like Unwound, Brainiac and Nation of Ulysses should connect quickly with Hot Snakes’ music, which might also appeal to anyone into nimble guitar-punk topped with agitated lyrical statements.

Spin:Whether you start at the beginning, with debut full-length Automatic Midnight, or at the end, with comeback record Jericho Sirens, you’ll experience the same result—a blast of raw intensity that threatens to blow back your hair (and maybe your neighbors’, too). In total, Hot Snakes’ four studio LPs clock in at a brisk two hours, 22 minutes, but if you don’t have that kind of time, dial up 2019 non-album cut “Checkmate” for a three-minute distillation of everything these guys (still) do right.

HOT SNAKES with Kills Birds, Mercy Music. February 29, 8 p.m., $20-$25. Backstage Bar & Billiards, 702-382-2223.

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Spencer Patterson

Spencer Patterson is the Editor of Las Vegas Weekly, having previously served as Managing Editor, Arts & Entertainment Editor and ...

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