Earth Crisis, Terror, Sworn Enemy, and Shai Hulud Slay Chicago
Last night Firestorm Fest (American Hardcore Lives) rolled into Chicago. My sons, along with one of their friends, accompanied me into the city to see the show.
And what a show it was. I think my ears have stopped bleeding and I think my hearing is beginning to return. We all agreed that it was one of the best shows we've seen in some time.
New York's Recon opened the show with a set of metal flavored straight-edge hardcore replete with such massive breakdowns that Matt Fox of Shai Hulud remarked during their set that "we had more breakdowns but Recon took them all." The pit action was fast and furious and got crazier as the night went on.
Down to Nothing was next with no-frills, straight-edge hardcore. They played a strong set and propelled the dancers in the pit into a frenzy of windmills and exuberant two-stepping. I'd go see these guys again in a minute.
A reconstituted Shai Hulud conjured up a blistering sonic assault that was staggering. I think it was during their set that I saw my son's friend go flying off the stage. It seemed as if the roof of the hall flew off during "A Profound Hatred of Man" and if it had, I don't think anyone would've noticed. Finally getting to see Shai Hulud was a high point for me and the boys as we'd always seem to miss them when they came around in the past.
Sworn Enemy's hardcore influenced metal pushed the show's intensity even further. They displayed some really good guitar playing and rock-steady drumming which served their well written songs quite nicely.
"We need to elevate the maximum stagedive potential" could have been the theme for Terror's part of the show. This is the third or fourth time I've seen them and their L.A., tough-guy hardcore with a strong metal sensibility never fails to please. The pit is absolutely insane during a Terror set and last night was no exception. People were rushing the stage to "get the mic" and bodies were flying off the stage left and right. For Terror, hardcore is more than the music and shows, it is family. I once heard Scott Vogel say at a show, "I never felt like I fit in anywhere until I went to a hardcore show. I found myself with a bunch of other kids who didn't fit in either. And we finally found a place where we fit in."
That sense of family and belonging is what I love about hardcore music. Just as in our biological families, there are jerks and assholes, but it's still family.
I didn't think it possible but a reunited Earth Crisis took the intensity level even higher. They played stuff from most of their recorded output. A couple of highlights were "Ecocide" from "All Out War" and "Killing Brain Cells" from "Slither." Now I am not straight-edge but I couldn't refrain from singing along with the chorus of their final song, "I am straight-edge."
About midway through the show I started feeling old, like I didn't belong there. That feeling was gone by the end of the night. As I told Shai Hulud's Matt Fox after their set, I may be fifty five freakin' years old, but I'll never stop going to shows."
The show flyer did not lie. American hardcore lives.
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