That there was a hardcore show at The Woodward Theater is a topic of discussion for another day. That it was Soul Glo performing at The Woodward Theater - let me say that shit was just WILD.
The show was a bit late to start. Whether it was technical difficulties or a collective decision to let a few more folks trickle in, or simply good old fashioned Punk Rock Time, things kicked off at a still early 8:30pm. Hattiesburg, Mississippi residents MSPaint were the sole openers. Their synth player, wearing a “Synth Punk” shirt, should have been my first clue as to what I was about to experience. Going into the show only knowing the name, I honestly wasn’t sure.
What I saw, and what I heard: synth and bass heavy punk and hardcore influenced dance rock, a vocalist stalking and stomping across the stage, barking lyrics to the kids in the audience singing along, jagged rhythms and odd time signatures that reminded of The Faint, Horse the Band, and Colour Revolt simultaneously. Listening to them post-live show, their latest release, Post-American, plays both cleaner and somehow heavier than I anticipated. In hindsight, their live show makes a lot more sense. I can see them occupying the same bill as a band like Brainiac just as easily as with a band like Soul Glo. That’s rad as hell.
They were an interesting opener and I’d be curious to know what others thought if it was their first experience with the band. Looking at their calendar for the rest of 2023, MSPaint is going to be real busy. Hopefully they make it back to Cincinnati sooner rather than later.
Soul Glo is an important band for a lot of reasons, but last night, the crowd at The Woodward Theater was there for one reason and one reason only - to sing along. Rowdy from the get go, this is a fiercely dedicated and energetic fanbase, and one of the first proper hardcore/punk rock crowds I’d seen in quite a long time.
Spanning the band’s discography, their set leaned into newer material from their Epitaph Records full-length debut, Diaspora Problems (including the set closer, which was an all-timer). It was a chaotic, snarky, gnarly ass set of hardcore punk rock in the vein of Paint It Black and Gorilla Biscuits, with hip-hop interludes and humorous asides thrown in for, I don’t know, a minute to breathe? The crowd was into it from note one, crowding the stage, pushing and shoving, dancing and singing, a small but mighty circle pit taking over the floor. From airborne guitars, vocalists lounging on the stage, microphones in pockets or slamming against bass strings, the show did a good amount of zigging and zagging. The crowd - insanely young to these old eyes - pushed into the stage, took every opportunity they could to grab the mic, and didn’t stop moving for the entirety of Soul Glo’s 45 plus minute set.
Of note: it was massively cool to see a young, diverse crowd there to support one of the few hardcore bands touring right now with a black front person. Hardcore has always been a predominantly white male led enterprise (I know, what hasn’t?), so to see that kind of response, reaction, and support for the band (which is more than deserved - they’re incredible) was heartening in a big way. And knowing that they’re at the forefront of a more diverse set of bands coming up right now, too, is reason for celebration. I, for one, am ready.
This was a weird one for The Woodward Theater, but the low rise of the stage and the lack of barrier actually helped it make a lot more sense as the show came to a close. Maybe we’ll see more of these kind of shows happening here?
It was a rad night and I am so pumped I finally got to see Soul Glo live. It was a ripper. Let’s do it again real soon.