Day three put the HARD in New England Metal & Hardcore festival this year. This was the No Sissies Allowed day. Observe.
Opening ceremonies were conducted by Seattle’s To The Wind, and they put on a good show, however unremarkable. Nothing bad to say, though I haven’t any accolades to shower upon them. After them, a whole big space of my doing nothing but bothering people and flexing my superb awkward swagger until The Greenery, a Long Beach skate crew whose singer has a bone to pick with the concept of stages, because separating yourself from the crowd is not punk.
Too fast, too furious, and it’ll make you wanna act a fool. The Greenery play a mix of Thrash, Hardcore, and straight up balls-out Punk that has the speed of Cerebral Ballzy, the rousing hardness of Rotting Out, and the obsession with boarding that connects the two. I certainly wouldn’t mind catching them again. One fun thing I learned from this set was that I may or may not have found the singer’s Motorhead hat, which apparently went missing and was so painful of a loss that he dedicated a song to it. I invoke finder’s keepers law and am justified in my acquiring of this killer headgear.
I heard a bit of racket being made downstairs by Australia’s Beyond The Shore, and went down to see what was up. Apparently the once passable I Killed The Prom Queen impersonators have taken a turn for the worse and don’t even bother trying to sound remotely interesting. That and a crowd of 20 people not throwing down to the chugs was enough to make you flaccid. Taking the stage after them were Waking The Dead, a passable Crossover Thrash act, but nothing that made me rethink all of my once held notions of how it should sound.
Heading back upstairs, I intended to see what all the fuss surrounding Warhound was about.
Seamlessly melding Hip-Hop and Hardcore can be done, and has been done. Just look to bands like Candiria for an example of how to do it tastefully and with a steaze indefatigable. Warhound on the other hand, while not necessarily bad at what they do, take the more thuggish extreme of hip-hop, and not exactly the “Wu-Tang ain’t nuttin’ ta fuck wit” type, either. It’s certainly heavy and has that bounce, but the attitude is more funny than anything, even though you can tell they come from the mean streets of Chi-town and are unironic in what they’re talking about. For fans of Deez Nuts?
Following the hardest ever were Turnstile, who are also respectably hard, despite their name being a random object. I guess they like trains. They sure know how to get a crowd going, and even got some glorious pile-on action, which is a sign that the kids dig it.
Following that was Thick As Blood. By now you’ve probably realised I spent the majority of my day upstairs. It was more fun there, is all.
Florida’s not a happy place. Just look at all the Death Metal bands that have come from there, as well as these hatemongers that got some fools crowdkilling early on. Music is passion, it’s true. I got a fist to the eye just for being in the wrong place at the wrong time, but I gotta say, it wasn’t as bad as I thought it’d be. That set the tone for a fun set, oddly enough, even if Turnstile had a bigger draw, resulting in an oddly vacant floor in comparison. I got down.
Local boys Sworn In came on next and played a lot of heavy stuff, which makes sense since they have yet to write anything that isn’t.
My seeing these guys was a long time coming, and I’m glad I finally got to. In a more packed setting, I imagine it would be far more satisfying, though their heaviness that errs on the side of a djent feel and the eternal wellsprings of anger held by their vocalist is massive enough when there’s room to practice your spinkicks.
I decided against my better instincts to go peek at The Plot In You(terus). Generic trash, throw it away. I stand a greater chance of getting a nosebleed drinking a glass of water at home than I do standing in a The Plot In You pit. Luckily Remembering Never, though I’d not previously heard them, obliterated the thoughts of that horrible experience from my mind with their OG Metalcore swag.
There’s my dad in the Daniel Bryant shirt, by the way, up front for one of the bands that I’m gonna guess invented the sentence-long title craze alongside bands like Killswitch Engage, Converge, and Death By Stereo. Having gone on a hiatus some years back, apparently it’s quite exciting that they’re doing things once more, and having seen them in action, I can say for sure that they’re a much needed breath of fresh air in a world where Metalcore means anyone suffering through a break-up. Clean sections sparingly used between punishing breakdowns, circle-pit parts that didn’t sound forced, and of course, the abundance of quotable lines that give the audience cause to shout along with all of their might. It’s inspiring, I say. For fans of Ligeia who are sad that they’re dead and drunk.
Speaking of hiatuses (hiatii?) Trapped Under Ice made the announcement that they would be going on one in August of this year. I, not being a fan, am not taking the news too hard, but their legions of loyal pit warriors made this one count, with mic-rushes galore and rugged pit antics for those truly unafraid to emerged bruised in the name of Hardcore. TUI til they die. I’m sure they’ll be missed, but they’ll be back, and probably to more intense crowds than before. Whether or not they’re Metallica fans is a question we’ll have to wait to see answered definitively at another time.
Thus concludes the upstairs portion of this programme.
After getting a little poster signed by Suicidal Tendencies (fo’ free, bless their hearts), it was time to witness some endless circles made by our favourite speed metal drunks in D.R.I.
How much can one really say about D.R.I. that doesn’t just boil down to “Ahh it was fast and people were running around!”? Because that’s basically what it is: an explosion of pure Crossover enjoyment that not even some fool wearing stripes and acting a fool (the wrong way, mind you) can ruin. They didn’t invent the circlepit (I think), nor did they invent the skanking run (or did they?), but since both are so synonymous with them, it was of course what one may expect to be the main flavour on this mosh smorgasbord.
New York’s finest in Sick Of It All are the ones that I personally attribute a lot of the modern day tuff guy hardcore to, but by Jove they’re fantastic.
Old boy Lou hasn’t aged a day in their 28 years as a band, it’s incredible. Looking and sounding just as fresh as on record, the band delivered prime cuts like “Just Look Around” and “Step Down” like it wasn’t no thang. Sick Of It All was the rallying cry for all of the dads in the building, as the bald and aged among us were out in full force, circling as though this was their final day on Earth, and throwing down harder than some of the kids upstairs. It’s a sight to see, the geezers out to play. Sick Of It All? Nah, I could go for a couple more songs, please. It was all over too soon, but luckily the cycos in Suicidal Tendencies were up next for all of us who have a bone to pick with your polite society.
Suicidal Tendencies are the reason why Punks and Metalheads are on friendly(-ish) terms today, so thank them whenever you see a guy in a Slayer shirt and a guy in a cut up Circle Jerks shirt in the same pit not punching one another. They and D.R.I. essentially paved the way for Crossover and Metallic Hardcore of all types, so it’s a pretty big deal that they are once again sharing the stage. Mike Muir has aged physically, but his voice and attitude towards life have thankfully remained ever fresh and relevant since their self-titled LP released in ’83. Still cyco after all these years, anthems like “How Will I Laugh Tomorrow If I Can’t Even Smile Today?”, “Possessed To Skate”, “I Saw Your Mommy”, “You Can’t Bring Me Down”, and of course, the almighty “Institutionalized” still have the same punch that they did when they were first penned. The new line-up hasn’t changed a thing as far as their energy goes, as they’re just as vital as the group of youngsters that initially formed the band. The mini-speeches Mike made between songs were at once inspirational and wide-eyed and had a touch of the lunacy that attempting to play by everyone else’s rules brings on a free-thinking mind. I don’t exaggerate when I say I could listen to Mike Muir spoken word on how to subvert societal norms with the same interest as I would Henry Rollins describe his interactions with strangers. Fuck with life regularly.
In all, New England Metal & Hardcore Festival XV was a massive success. Hundreds, thousands even, from all over the world, including a crew that came all the way from Japan just to see Terror, all united in their love of heavy music. It’s a wonderful thing, and I wish all shows were this grand, if not quite as expensive. But fuck it, I got in for free because I’m cool. Cheers, fuckers.