Barge - These four guys look like they are ready to jump out of their skin, they are so anxious to hit the stage. In fact, they start a little bit early, but the hardcore fans or there, so let's go! Detroit style hardcore here, with a head-bob most in the direction of Negative Approach. I have seen it all before as that was my scene oh so many decades ago. And I can be a very tough grader on younger bands rehashing the same style of songs. Yet in this case, these guys nailed it. They let it rip during their 12-minute set, which somehow did not seem short (ok playing the same amount of notes as the Eagles do in an hour will get it done at this speed). The only tiresome thing I saw was a couple of whirlwind dancers making with the propeller arms pushing everyone back a couple of steps. The world can do without the cliched skank and mosh pit moves. But the world still needs the music that Barge can deliver.
Give - This local hardcore band features the dreaded three-guitar look that scares me in a lot of genres, especially here. Fortunately this band seemed to make it work. They scored much more on the energy side of the equation than on the songwriting, but they still managed a nice variety styles within their 29-minute set. They played songs that hearkened back to straight rock, loose punk, fast hardcore, and modern dirge post hardcore/alt metal. They reminded me a bit of the band Zeke, if anyone remembers them. This good attitude and a sense of fun with their music will bring in a lot more of the skeptical crowd and should make them a mainstay in the scene. Nice job.
Ed Schrader's Music Beat - The stage is stripped back to a big bass amplifier and a floor tom with a couple of microphones. This Baltimore duo sticks with this simple formula throughout their 25 minute and rattled off many intriguing tribal thumpers. There is a raw stripped down Savage Republic or Chrome style here, with a dose of Albini dark irony in the mix. I can not quite love the sound, although I really wanted to, although there were some magical moments. Maybe one more instrument to aid in contrast would make this perfect. As it is, it still excites the imagination and is a welcome add-on to this incredibly diverse hardcore bill (proving this is not a contradiction of terms). Extra credit goes to the bass player who came up to me and said he liked my Comus t-shirt. Now that's hardcore.
Ceremony - More hardcore still with this celebrated west coast band that has done rather well for itself in recent years. They have a rather slippery style where they hint at a lot of different sub-genres, but do not comfortably sit back (or even rush forward) in any of them. Unfortunately my foreshadowing was correct as a guy was quickly taken away with a bad bloody nose and a dazed look during the first song. The crowd was up and down thereafter with mixed intensity, although they were digging into the music pretty much the full time. The band was moving well and had a pummeling rhythm section that allowed the guitars to slash away with their own particular ebb and flow. The singer went into the crowd and had a focused intensity that brought a seriousness to their music. Four very different bands tonight each with different levels of experience, creativity and sonic approach. Ceremony capped off a very invigorating evening for me and this rather large crowd.
Quote of the Night: From Give's singer... "Take a look on stage and tell me who doesn't belong? .... Yeah, well we all belong." Good line because one rhythm guitarist had a crew cut with the other five having very long hair. It was also interesting because I thought he was the tightest musician and I was trying hard to ensure that was due to what I was hearing and not the way he looked or the way he moved.