I was a teenager lost in a world of black eyeliner and guys in skinny jeans. I spent my days cutting out pictures from Alternative Press of Good Charlotte and Simple Plan just to stable them onto my wall. I walked into a Too Pure To Die show and my life changed. I was catapulted into a whole new world with a whole new sound and vibe. It was my first introduction into the hardcore scene and to say I was a fan would be an understatement. When Too Pure To Die announced they would be playing in Saint Paul I instantly texted my brother in excitement. I was finally going to have another chance to see this band that truly changed my life.
Unfortunately due to an early start time and a looming trip to Chicago for Riot Fest that I absolutely had to start getting ready for, I missed openers KNAAVES and Rains of Apathy. It was clear by the way the four bands I did catch thanked those two openers that I had made a grave mistake. The second my brother and I walked into The Amsterdam on Saturday, the crowd was chatting about these two bands and how great they were. Although bummed, I was so stoked to see what the next bands would bring to the table. Now, full disclosure, I don’t know much about the history of any of the bands that played last night so I apologize now for the lack of the history lesson.
Rains of Apathy
Death Sentence was the first band I caught and to say they got my night started off right would be the understatement of the night. They were intense, in your face, and so together and cohesive that I couldn’t help but wonder where they have been my whole life. Although their brand of hardcore was very classic, there was something that definitely set them apart from other hardcore bands that I’ve seen live. You could feel the intensity as the two vocalists stormed across the stage while shouting at the crowd. The audience matched that energy and the pit opener up within the first song and remained open until the bitter end. With bodies flying and limbs flailing, I was in my happy spot as I watched everything unfold in front of me. The energy during a set like this is always electric and even if you don’t want to be in the pit or even anywhere near it, you feel the energy. If that’s not the best way to kick off a Saturday night show, I don’t know what is.
Following Death Sentence was With Dead Hands Rising. I was a bit thrown off when these guys took the stage. Knowing very little about any of the bands other than the headliner, I guess I just assumed that all of the bands would be playing a brand of hardcore music. False. WDHR took the stage and jumped into a set that blended metal, metalcore, deathcore, and even grindcore. Although it took me a second to get used to a sound that I wasn’t quite prepared for, within a couple of songs I had warmed up to these guys. Hailing from the Twin Cities, this band clearly has a following full of people who had been counting down the minutes until they had a chance to see them perform again. Much like majority of the other bands that played on Saturday, WDHR broke up nearly ten years ago so this was a reunion of sort which added a whole other level of fun and emotion to the night. Beyond the intensity of the music, there was an intense feeling of meeting up with long lost friends and family and that became the exclamation point for an already explosive night.
Nehemiah was up next and much like WDHR’s set, there was a clear feeling of excitement as this Twin Cities band took the stage. Nehemiah is another one of those bands that made it huge locally back in the day but then broke up while leaving their fans hanging and wanting more. Leaning more towards the metal sound rather than the hardcore scene, these guys brought yet another very unique sound to an already unique night. Beyond the energy in the room, that was probably one of my favorite elements of last night’s show. Although all of the music was heavy, each act brought a different sound which kept the show moving and made it impossible to get bored.
I felt a little left out during the previous bands because I wasn’t able to share the memories of nostalgia with old friends since I didn’t grow up in the Twin Cities but that all changed when Too Pure To Die took the stage. Hailing from my hometown of Des Moines, Iowa, I was finally able to feel that nostalgia as I saw them take the stage. It’s probably been about fifteen years since I’ve seen this group live and although everything has changed, it felt as if not much had changed at all as I watched them perform the songs that changed my life. Having broken up in 2009, TPTD became just a memory but when they dropped a new EP earlier this year and announced their Saint Paul show, that memory turned into reality and I couldn’t have been happier.
Although they played a couple new songs, Saturday night’s set focused on their older material that I remembered from back in the day. The feeling was the same as it had been back in the day. I watched the kids in the pit absolutely stunned as the flailed and flipped through the open space in the middle of the floor. I watched as the members stomped across the stage with a sense of aggression without feeling threatening. The way hardcore music gives people an outlet for all of the aggression of everyday life is the main reason I fell in love with the scene and the reason last night was so amazing. Although I found myself standing in the back majority of the night, I still felt all of the stresses of the world fall to the wayside– the way music should make you feel.
Much like the Impaler show last week, there’s something ridiculously special about watching bands perform on stage that haven’t performed together in years. Shows like that give you a feeling that just can’t be put into words.