It seems like everyone and their brother has seen Hatebreed live. Even if you don’t go to shows, you’ve seen them. Hell, a co-worker has seen Hatebreed a couple of times and I’m not convinced he even really knows what music is. With that being said, I have not seen Hatebreed before. Yeah, I was embarrassed when I had to raise my hand after the singer asked who was seeing them for the first time last night and my brother and friend that I was with were nothing short of shocked. Out of the hundreds, nay, thousands, of shows I’ve been to, I’ve never seen that band. Regardless, I finally saw the legendary group last night and it was everything I could have hoped for.
Five-piece group Twitching Tongues kicked off the night promptly at 7PM. Although I was a little late arriving to the show and missed a couple of songs from this opening act, I was still thoroughly impressed with this group. Their LA style of hardcore music seemed to be true to the roots of the genre while still having a sense of individuality and creativity about it. It was clear that there was no shortage of energy on stage and I felt entranced by the band member’s electricity as I walked up closer to the stage and claimed my usual spot. Once I got settled in, I took in my surroundings and realized that the floor was empty– not as in nobody was at the show– more that the pit had already been opened up and it was only the first act of a four band bill. There may not have been many people in the gaping hole that had been formed in the middle of the floor but that’s not the point. The point is that people cared enough about Twitching Tongues to even form that hole said everything I needed to know about this band.
Following Twitching Tongues’ explosive opening set was a personal favorite of mine- The Acacia Strain. Hailing from Massachusetts, The Acacia Strain has been a staple in my daily playlist since the mid-2000’s. Their unique blend of hardcore, metal, metalcore and too many more to list has made them a standout group in a world where everything seems to start sounding the same after just a couple of songs. I’m always thoroughly impressed by singer Vincent Bennett’s energy when on stage. It’s intense and almost intimidating at times. It’s as if you can feel the air coming from his lungs as he shouts the lyrics through the microphone. Last night was no different. The energy was electric and none of the band members were standing still. The audience seemed to mirror that energy and I watched with a smile on my face as bodies were being pushed, shoved, thrown, and just completely annihilated throughout the group’s forty-five minute set. I’ve been to some great shows lately but none of them have been in the metal world and honestly that’s where I feel most at home. Acacia Strain reminded me in just a few seconds of playing why I fell in love with watching live music and why I love watching the metal genre in particular. It’s the energy, the brutality, the flying bodies– but most of all it’s the sense of family and that’s exactly what The Acacia Strain brought to the show last night.
Sludge-metal masters Crowbar were up next. Since 1990, Crowbar has been making some of the sludgiest, almost doom at times, metal out there. Honestly it wouldn’t be a stretch to call these guys legends. Although their name may not sound familiar to you and you may not be able to name any of their songs, their legacy and influence has probably reached nearly any metal band you listen to today. What’s almost as amazing as the immense influence of Crowbar is that fact that singer/ guitarist Kirk Windstein has been in the band since day one. I mean, that long in the same band is truly a feat and something that doesn’t happen enough. Almost as impressive is the fact that bassist Todd Strange is also a founding member of the group and, after a short break, is back with them. So, essentially, I got to see this legendary sludge metal group with two original members. Yeah, it was pretty awesome and, although I fell out of the sludge scene awhile ago, I still felt this undeniable sense of honor as I watched this legendary group play through their set. Although both band and crowd seemed a bit more subdued than they had throughout The Acacia Strain’s set, there wasn’t a shortage of respect on either side and that respect is something that doesn’t exist in other genres or at other shows. Love or hate Crowbar and the sludge scene in general, there’s no denying the influence and the power of seeing that live.
Closing out the night of already amazing music was legendary group Hatebreed. As mentioned at the beginning of this post, although it seems like everyone has seen Hatebreed before, last night was my first chance and I was ready for it. Since 1994, Hatebreed have been kings among the over-saturated hardcore/ metalcore scene. Love them or hate them, this group is a resilient band. Don’t believe me? Last night was part of a tour celebrating the 20 year anniversary of their debut album ‘Satisfaction is the Death of Desire’. Much like Crowbar, Hatebreed are influential and truly an essential band in the scene. Since their album 20 years ago, Hatebreed has continued to release seven more albums and have stayed a constant in the touring circuit. With three out of five of the members being originals, I completely forgot about the fact that I had yet to see this group. It honestly felt like I was seeing them in their prime and when I had first started listening to their distinct brand of music. Everything was perfect and the worry of them coming off as washed-up or tired instantly fell to the wayside.
Like the bands that graced the stage prior to their headlining set, the members of Hatebreed had an insane amount of energy. Singer Jamey Jasta really didn’t have to do much to get the crowd going. Sure he asked for a circle pit a couple of times throughout their set but honestly, the crowd didn’t need any nudge to move. The crowd’s energy matched the energy radiating off the stage. It didn’t matter how tired you were when you walked into the show last night, as soon as Hatebreed took the stage you were wide awake from the musical and (depending on where you were standing) physical assault. Although Hatebreed played through probably over twenty songs, their set left me wanting so much more. With only an hour of play time, it just wasn’t enough. I had waited for this moment for so long and, when it came to an end, regardless of how amazing it was, I was disappointed when the house lights came on and I was shuffled out the door.
I go to more shows in a week than some people go to in a year but there are still some bands that, although I probably should have seen them over a dozen times by now, I have yet to see. Hatebreed was one of those bands and the anticipation and excitement could have easily led to a let down of a show. Thankfully, it didn’t and Hatebreed was everything and more than I could have asked for.