There’s a first time for everything. For this writer, it was my first time seeing every band on the bill. Hatebreed brought along Terror, Vein, and Jesus Piece to celebrate 20 years of The Rise of Brutality, and the rowdy crowd was into every thrashy, screamy, brutal minute of it.
Within the realm of heavy music - particularly hardcore - this was actually a fairly diverse set of bands. While breakdowns were the common denominator, each band had it’s own take on “heavy,” and their own way of translating what hardcore means as a sound. The basic tenet, though, tends to be the same: positive aggression. Sure, the circle pit never stopped circling. The breakdowns never let up. Sweaty, breathless fans rarely paused for more than a drink, or, in true hardcore fashion, pick someone up if they fell down. But you’ll rarely find a place more at peace with each other, or more accepting of the differences between them. It feels at odds with what’s coming from the stage, but it’s one of my favorite aspects of any indie music scene and one that makes hardcore shows such a unique experience.
Philly metalcore band Jesus Piece kicked things off and, to be honest, were probably my favorite set of the night. Indecipherable but absolutely gnarly vocals anchored this more hardcore than metal leaning act - they just ripped from beginning to end. Having gone back and listened to their latest, 2023’s …So Unknown, it’ll be in heavy rotation from here on out. Be sure to catch them if you happen to see this tour elsewhere in the country, or on whatever tour they’re jumping on next.
Boston’s Vein.fm played second, and like Jesus Piece, had their own take on hardcore with screechier vocals, some quieter moments, and little more thrash thrown in to mix it up. A lot of good riffs, plenty of breakdowns, energetic stage presence - everything you’d want in a band on a tour, at a show, like this.
Longstanding West Coast hardcore group Terror ended up the biggest surprise for me (not just because I would have sworn they were an East Coast hardcore band based solely on how they sound). Having only a passing familiarity with what they do, I found myself way more into their take on the night’s theme than I thought I would be. Like Hatebreed, they’ve been around a long time and have been doing this a while. Jesus Piece and Vein.fm represent a more updated version on what bands like Terror and Hatebreed laid the foundation for, but Terror can 100% hold their own in both presence and heaviness. Vocalist Scott Vogel encouraged the crowd to put the security staff to work (and they did), but also reminded everyone in the crowd why they were there - to get out all their anger and aggression and frustration with the world with each other, and that they were all there together to make that happen. To this day, that’s one of my favorite aspects of the hardcore scene. Like I said - positive aggression.
Last - and by no means least - Hatebreed took the stage in celebration of 20 years of their landmark album, The Rise of Brutality. Few bands in the realm of hardcore garner the respect and devotion they do. Coming up on 30 years as a band, they’ve not gone without controversy - pretty much the standard for any long-running hardcore or heavy music band anymore - but all things considered seem to have weathered those particular storms relatively well.
A progenitor of what would later become “metalcore” (see the above Jesus Piece for more on that), Hatebreed fills a very specific niche that not many others occupy these days. Even as they’re at least partially responsible for legitimizing a scene that’s been going strong for decades, the band is still very much does its own thing. Riffs, breakdowns, heart on their sleeve lyrics, dynamic stage presence - all anchored by frontman Jamie Jasta, who’s smiles between song - hell, even during songs - are at odds with what he’s yelling on stage.
Start to finish, this was a ripper of a show, and fans across the spectrum really got a little taste of every corner of the heavy music spectrum. Leaving sweaty, shirtless, a little short of breath, but smiling nonetheless, it’s hard to overstate just how much these shows mean to fans. I’m glad I was there to witness it.