Walking into Rock Island is always a little disorientating, especially if it is for a hardcore show. The bar with its stalactite sculptures on the ceiling and a rotating crystalloid fixture in the corner was unusually slow and empty. Maybe it was because the hardcore kids aren’t into (or are too young for) drinking. Up by the merch tables everyone was hanging out and anticipating the start of what promised to be a great night for some kick dancing.
As We Speak started the night with a set of tight and focused “Mile High Hardcore”. Throughout their set the dual vocalists traded the mic and hardcore dance moves while catering to their local fan base. They even spoke of accepting newbies into the scene and offered pointers on show etiquette. Maybe they were just trying to give advice to the guy who almost got jumped on the floor. Apparently he got out of hand with his dancing and tried pulling some jock pit moves on the local crew. He quickly ran back to the bar where the kids couldn’t get to him and sipped on beer for the rest of the night. The guy was smart and a little stupid at the same time. As We Speak even did a little shit talk about local bands that shun and/or trash Denver’s local scene and pretend that they are from somewhere else. They did not mention any names but they had someone particular in mind.
Originally from Alaska, the Portland, OR band 36 Crazy Fists came out next and gave another set of solid, by the books Hardcore. This was a night that was showing how effective and brutal this style of music can be if done right. Friday night was about release and having fun and not getting into fights. No trouble broke out and everyone there seemed to be bonding instead of erupting. This is what Hardcore is about.
Set changes were fast all night. It was definitely a sign of how much and intensely these bands tour. They didn’t want to waste time or let the momentum of the show drag. Martyr AD showed that ethic with a quick “We’re Martyr AD, GO!” and the set had begun. They opened with “Bring out the Dead” from their upcoming release On Earth as It Is in Hell. The intense start of their set was hindered by the absence of the bass signal. They didn’t stop playing and let the sound guy figure it out. Before the first song was done he found and replaced the faulty power strip. The songs were complex and stacked on top of each other. Martyr AD rolled through their set like a tank and only stopped to give the release date of their new album (April 20). After being gone for a couple years this band is coming back in whole new way. It makes you wonder if they should have kept the same band name.
What Walls of Jericho lacked in complexity, they made up for in their intensity and force. Tight guitars and scorching vocals are their trade. Next to the band before them Walls of Jericho seem a little minimalist in nature, but minimalism never sounded so gigantic. Having more room in the music to dance, the crowd responded with more energy than it had shown all night. The simultaneous exhale between songs was almost as loud as the guitars. The vacuum that was left after the show was rather deafening. These guys proved that they earned all of their acclaim and prime opening spots with acts like In Flames.
One night of solid Hardcore explains why it has gotten so huge and one night of these bands shows why it will stay around for a long time.