Vendetta Red 

With Armour for Sleep, S.T.U.N., and On the Might of Princes. Friday, November 21, at the Grog Shop.

Punk rock's about as tough as a riled-up kitten these days. Maybe that's why all the new bands that have sprung from the backwash of Blink-182 and Good Charlotte are being pegged as "mall punk." Hipsters and punk purists, especially, despise the stuff. Zach Davidson of the Seattle quintet Vendetta Red, however, doesn't want to hear about it.

"I was an elitist hardcore kid once too," says the singer, getting a little worked up over the whole line of questioning. "But I can't relate to that mentality anymore. If all you have to do with your life is talk shit, then maybe you should be a lawyer."

Davidson has a right to be defensive -- Vendetta Red has made the rounds with Dashboard Confessional, Brand New, and MxPx this year. But unlike their roadmates, Davidson and his crew don't play honey-dipped teenybopper fluff.

The group's hit single "Shatterday," from its major-label debut Between the Never and the Now, is a prime example: In under three minutes, it wraps the swelling opulence of an arena rocker in the inkstained pages of an old diary. "When you bit the bullet, I held the smoking gun," sings Davidson in a lip-quivering croon, before screeching headlong into the chorus: "These mescaline memories are morose/Your kerosene company's comatose."

"We were taking a lot of mescaline and acid when we started the band," he says. "We rented a house with a basement, and everybody would come over and take drugs and flip out and play music. And then we started coming up with really good songs, so we decided to cut down on the drugs and play shows. I think our musical cement is two parts red wine and two parts acid."

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