Photos by David Rubene
My current string of shows has been nothing short of amazing. With Justin Timberlake on Friday, Lucero Saturday and the surprisingly perfect duo of Sting and Shaggy on Sunday, it seemed like things really couldn’t get much better. That’s what I thought as I was walking into First Avenue on Monday night. Although I was excited, I figured there was no way the show could top what had already happened over the weekend. Oh how wrong I was.
The show was kicked off by local rockers Hive. I caught the tail end of their set back in January of last year. Although I realize it’s been forever since I’ve seen them, I never forgot about them and watching their short set last night reminded why they have always stuck in my head. Their brutal mix of hardcore and metal sounds has an undeniable sense of power while not being too intense or in your face. I watched in amazement as the four members chugging along to the beat with a feeling of concentration that can often be lost when it comes to local bands. Beside the concentration of the band members being clear to see, so was the passion. Nothing about their music was phoned in. There wasn’t a single string of notes or drum hits that seemed to be out of place or written off. It was such a tight and cohesive set that, had I not known about this band prior to walking into last night’s show, I could have easily been fooled that they were part of the touring package.
Following Hive was Madball, a New York based hardcore band that has been at the top of their game since the 1980’s. Madball brought a new vibe to the room. Their classic hardcore sound rang through the speakers as the audience pushed and shoved their way through the lengthy set. Although never a huge die-hard fan of Madball, I can’t deny what they’ve done for the hardcore scene and the influence they have had on many of the bands I worship today. Being able to see a band like that live always adds a whole other side of a concert and last night was no different. Although I kept my distance from the growing pit, I could see the bodies flying and the fists pumping throughout the air. The energy in the room was electric and although to the untrained eye it probably looked like a sweaty mess where you risked a black eye or a cracked rib, to me it looked like home.
That had to have been my favorite part of the night. Madball stood out on the three band bill last night for being the most hardcore styled band but they didn’t let that stop them from inviting everyone to join in. I was frantically taking notes in my phone because it seemed like every line vocalist Freddy Cricien said was something that I wanted to remember and something that was worth sharing. “I don’t care how hard you think you are. When you come to a show, you come to have fun– so have fun!” I mean, you can’t argue with him there and it seemed to be something that stayed true throughout the night. Everyone in there, even if they were being pelted by limbs near the pit, had a smile on their face and were screaming their hearts out. Freddy made it clear that nobody cares if you’re a metal head, a punk kid, a thrasher, an indie popper– whatever. All that matters is you have to feel music. Having an idol say what I’ve been preaching since I started this blog definitely had me on cloud nine and made Madball’s set a highlight of last night’s concert.
Closing out the already amazing night of music was the one and only Suicidal Tendencies. I think I had come to terms with the fact that I would never see these guys live. I mean, come on, they’ve been around since 1980 and, as an energetic and harder band, there’s no shame in not being able to do the same stuff you’ve been doing for nearly forty years. Although I had come to terms with the idea of never seeing them, it was always in the back of my mind that I would kill to see them. Thankfully, no killing was necessary and I was ecstatic when they announced their First Avenue show. As soon as I saw the members take the stage, any worry about them being too old or too washed up to give me the show I wanted and dreamt of fell by the wayside.
Mostly in their mid-50’s, the members of ST had more energy than many of the younger bands I see night after night. Did you want to get a picture of singer Mike “Cyco Mike” Muir? Good freaking luck. I don’t think there was a single moment where he was standing still other than the occasional sip of water that lasted mere seconds and didn’t lead to a good photo op. Although the crowd was going nuts for Madball, they took it to a different level for ST’s set. A little more aggressive, the crowd was making it obvious that they had been waiting for years for this moment. Sure, ST was in town a couple of years ago at The Myth but that was different. They were a supporting act that time and the show wasn’t at First Avenue. There’s a sense of magic that comes with performing and see a show at First Avenue and that magic wasn’t lost on a single patron last night.
I’m honestly a little bummed that I have tonight off from shows but maybe it’s a blessing in disguise. The past couple of shows have just been too amazing and I honestly need a night to just decompress from it all.