It’s hard to say if the emergence of Current in the greater Detroit area precipitated the formation of a new scene dedicated to the kind of striking, post-hardcore salvos the band specialized in, or if they just happened to arrive just at the right time. After a thrown-together mid-summer jam gave birth to Current in 1992, everything around the group locked in place; the Grounds Coffee House on the University of Detroit Mercy campus was transforming into a crucial waystation on the DIY punk touring network, and Current became the closest thing to a house band imaginable. Only a handful of years prior, vocalist Matthias Weeks had trouble finding a copy of Soul Side’s debut LP in a reasonable driving distance, but lo and behold he and the rest of Current helped plant the seeds of D.C. sound to grow anew in the Midwest, a bristling, transcendent thing occasionally called emocore—not that the band considered the tag meaningful.
The mystifying out-of-body emotional rush a generation of musicians would spend their careers trying to bottle is right there in Current’s debut album, Coliseum. Recorded eight months after their improbably beginning—and just a handful of months after Weeks’s vocal foil, Scott Ray, departed the band—Coliseum focused the feral energy of Current’s debut into a sharpened attack. Guitarist Justin LaBo could make a pinprick riff blunt and forceful, allowing his most ostentatious displays to wail like a small chorus of axes. Drummer Derek Brosch and bassist Andy Albus figured out how to leave a lot of space in songs and make them swing, with Albus providing an understated rubbery rhythm and Brosch prone to the occasional breakout fill that could spark a fire. Weeks could go from a whisper to a scream in seconds, and his most sensitive soliloquies carried the suggestion that he could break out into a howl without any forethought. Current put their all (and some parental funds) into it, releasing Coliseum on Council Records, which LaBo and Weeks ran out of their Dearborn apartment. The anthemic vigor coursing through Coliseum could make anyone a convert to Current’s sensitive, melodic approach to what they considered hardcore and orthodox punks mocked with a pejorative. Current knew only small handfuls of other bands that shared their musical proclivities, but that would change in just a few years—in part because of them.