ALONE IN A CROWD, TERROR, PAGAN BABIES, MAXIMUM PENALTY, BREAK AWAY, LET DOWN, SEARCH, NOWHERE ROADS @ FIRST UNITARIAN CHURCH, PHILADELPHIA, PA February 16, 2019.
REVIEW BY: CORE JUNKIE, PHOTOS BY: JC PHOTO MEDIA, ANNE SPINA, DANIELLE DOMBROWSKI
Alone In A Crowd is one of those hardcore mythic beasts. The band was only around for a very brief period and released one EP and played one show. If you love hardcore and do not own their 7" then you simply do not love hardcore at all and you should just fold up shop and head over to some other genre. Growing old kinda sucks, but it's all a part of life. Being old allowed me to be one of the lucky ones to have been at that one show at the Anthrax in Norwalk, CT and at this second one 30 years later. The reason for all of this was a benefit for Alone In A Crowd guitarist Howie Glen Wallen, who in the spring of 2017 was diagnosed with an acoustic neuroma, a tumor of the auditory nerve between his inner ear and his brain. You can look up what all that entails, but needless to say Howie had one surgery which caused him to go deaf in that ear and they did not get all of the tumor and it's growing back. Howie needs another procedure and much follow up to hopefully recover. Anyone reading this can donate and send out positive vibes to Howie and his family. This hit home with me because one of my closest friends and fellow hardcoremin was diagnosed with the same exact thing. Fortunately he was lucky to have had the foresight to get several opinions and then be referred to one of the best Neurologists in the country. However, most of us would be in the same boat as Howie. If I heard tumor, my initial instinct would be , get it out immediately. What I have learned from both cases and this is REALLY IMPORTANT my hardcore brethren, always get multiple opinions. Howie did what he thought was the best, but the problem is doctor's want your business and they have egos just like the rest of us. They are NEVER gonna tell you to get another opinion and if they do they are an exceptionally rare breed. It is your life and you do have choices. Fear can be overwhelming. Through my brother from another mother, I met Howie for the first time at this show. He is a good guy, a family man, a macrobiotic chef, and someone who deserves to have the scene step up and help him and his family, which is what the scene does best. We look out for our own. Speaking of which, How about that show?
NOWHERE ROADS. PHOTO BY: DANIELLE DOMBROWSKI
First things first. Disclaimer*: The opinions here are mine and mine alone and do not reflect anyone else's thoughts. Unfortunately I had to stuff my fat face full of Mexican food and I missed NOWHERE ROADS whose “Toil Every Second” EP on Coin Toss Records I have been enjoying a lot lately. The band is comprised of ex and current members of Floorpunch, Edgewise, and Wisdom In Chains and play a fast melodic style. I'll have to catch them on the flip. Sorry guys. I didn't know I was gonna review the show or I would have forgone the tacos, but thank you for playing for Howie.
Unfortunately I did get there in time to see SEARCH. Here is where that above disclaimer comes into play and here is where I lose major scene points. I simply do not get it, I never have, and never will. These musicians are great but the songs are straight edge cliche and derivative. I have a bunch of reasons why I don't like Search, but in the spirit of brotherhood and unity, speaking of cliche, I shall digress. I have one reason to like them. They played this show for free. So, thank you, and respect for that. Remember this is my opinion and my review, if you don't like it. it's.....just.....too....bad!
LET DOWN. PHOTOS BY: ANNE SPINA (TOP) DANIELLE DOMBROWSKI (BOTTOM)
LET DOWN was up next. Let Down was a suburban Philly SXE band turned mostly Philly SXE band who had some releases on the awesome Six Feet Under Records. They reformed for this show to support Howie, so maximum respect to them. From the first chord until the last these dudes gave 100% and the crowd responded in kind. If you don't own their releases, namely the “Crossed Off” 7" or the “We're In This Alone” LP, get over to SFU and get that shit. They played their hits and even a Cro-Mags cover. It was a high energy set and it was thoroughly enjoyed by the local crowd. An excellent way to get the blood pumping. Thank you guys for playing the show.
BREAK AWAY. PHOTOS BY: DANIELLE DOMBROWSKI
The newer breed from Fist City, aka Richmond, BREAK AWAY were up next. Break Away are the embodiment of a proper hardcore unit. These kids are DIY all the way and play some of the most sincere and just plain kick ass hardcore you'll find anywhere. Head over to React! Records for their latest (“Cross My Heart”) LP which will blow you away. The lead singer A.E. is also a published author which is obvious by his thought provoking words. No simple stabbed in the back/break the chain cliches here. Sadly this was Break Away's last Philly show and I believe second to last show ever. I have seen them a few times and they never disappoint. They certainly played their hearts out on this night covering a nice wide swath of their output from their inception a few short years ago until their latest release. The band is tight and it's sad they don't do just one more record, but hey, at least they hang it up on a high note. I am an old man, never been edge, but I proudly sport my Break Away crew neck no matter how silly I look. I'll read all of your books Ace. Oh, and guess who was at the exit door handing out flyers for his final show........that's right, Ace. DIY till you die. Big thanks for doing this show.
MAXIMUM PENALTY PHOTOS BY: ANNE SPINA
MP was in effect and they were there to bust shit up. MAXIMUM PENALTY has always been one of my favorite NYHC bands. Their ‘89 demo remains one of my top NYHC releases of all time. You either get MP or you don't. Thankfully Philly gets, loves and supports Maximum Penalty. They played a nice variety of their stuff spanning the years, including "Coming Home" as well as demo gems "Acceptance" and "Hate" which got us ancient heads pumped. I was extra thrilled when they dusted off the metalrific "Immaculate Conception" which was on the “NYHC - Where The Wild Things Are” compilation. Jim crooned his ass off and I love and respect his interpretation of a hardcore front man. He does it his way and from the heart. The band was tighter than a nuns ass. Excellent set. MP is a contemporary of Alone In A Crowd and their dedication to a brother in need and commitment to come to Philly to play is greatly appreciated. Thanks MP.
PAGAN BABIES. PHOTOS BY: ANNE SPINA (TOP) DANIELLE DOMBROWSKI (BOTTOM)
It was then time for Philly's own PAGAN BABIES. Pagan Babies reformed recently and released their first song in 30 years entitled "My Life". The song is a fucking ripper so seek that shit out. I was pleasantly shocked at how good they were live. They banged through just about everything and the band was tighter than I remember them being back at City Gardens in 1988. It was as if they had been together all along, from the musicianship to front man Mike McManus' delivery and banter, they were a well-oiled machine. These mature gentlemen really showed the kids how to rock. I hope they record a few more tunes and play a few more shows as they really are that good. Another big thanks to them for showing their hearts and playing the show for Howie.
TERROR. PHOTOS BY: DANIELLE DOMBROWSKI
It must've been the 25th hour because my back was hurtin' and TERROR took the stage next. Terribly lame joke not withstanding, when I say took the stage, they took over. At this point in their lifespan Terror is the most well-oiled of hardcore juggernauts. They have had line-up adjustments here and there, but as long as Scott Vogel is handling the mic and the beat master, globe trottin’, booty knockin' Nick Jett is on the skins, then I am alright. Martin has been in the band for what seems like forever at this point, even Jordan has been there a long time. However this was the first time I've seen them with new bassist Chris. I gotta say, they are stronger now than I've ever seen them and I saw them from the start. Martin and Chris both sing, sometimes with Scott, sometimes without, but the three of them together really fills out the raging sound they create as a band. They were fucking great, and I'll be the first to admit, I take them for granted. They banged through just about everything you, or at least I would want to hear. They played "Stick Tight", "Lowest of the Low", "Spit My Rage" and "One With The Underdogs" just to name a select few. Scott commands that stage and drops wisdom like few others can. They are a big band made even bigger for flying across country to support this cause. Big ups to Terror. They were excellent.
ALL ALONE IN A CROWD PHOTOS BY: JC PHOTO MEDIA
Speaking of big. It was time for the headliner. The one and only, one and done, ALONE IN A CROWD was about to double their live output and reunite for the first time in 30 years for their dear friend Howie. Now there was a time when you were more likely to see Rick ta Life accepting a vocalist of the year award while riding on a unicorn with his arms wrapped around Bigfoot, than you were to see Jules at a hardcore show. Jules had moved on. Jules was living his life. Side by Side, Alone In A Crowd, and hardcore in general were part of his past. However, Jules heard his good friend needed help and Jules was right back in. Let me tell you noobz and fools who missed this, Jules has not missed a step. I mean.... how do you segue from song to song, seamlessly if you haven't done so for 30 years. This cat did. All of us old heads were impressed.
They opened up with "Alone In A Crowd" and right into "Who You Know". The crowd went nuts. Jules sounded great. The band was amazing. They then busted out a little Side By Side number called "Friends" and the crowd lost it. Everything sounded great. Jules called out for Steve from Uppercut to come forward and belt out his band's song "Am I Clear". He kicked ass and it was a nice surprise. The band then played their cover of choice "Teenager In A Box" by the legendary Government Issue. Jules then asked who was at the last Side By Side show and like 4 of us raised our hands. At that show they debuted the song "Never Forgive" or "I Might Forget But Never Forgive" not sure on what the proper title was, but the song was a nice surprise and redemption and perhaps cathartic for Jules. By the way, between all of these songs, Jules was telling stories and filling in histories etc., which made the show that much better. I love learning shit. It was time for the third actual AIAC song "Commitment" and the crowd was singing along and loving it. Jules then spoke of discovering the local Philly band Eaten Alive on You Tube and having wanted them to play this show, and subsequently learning about the tragedy which befell them, the sudden loss of their guitarist, brother and friend, Max Moya. Rest in Power Max. Jules asked Davin, lead singer from Eaten Alive to come up on stage to cover the Killing Time classic, "Tell Tale" with the help of guests and KT's own Drago on drums and Rich on guitar. Home girl Davin tore that shit right up. Damn, we were standing there dumbfounded. Anthony C. is one of those irreplaceable hardcore front men, but I told him he should take Davin on tour to sing every third or fourth song so he can get a break. She was great.
Jules then shared a story about the Side By Side song that came up next and it was "Living A Lie" which was penned by Jules and another recently departed brother and his band mate Alex Brown. Rest in Power Alex. The band tore through it but at that moment when Jules shouts ALEX! to get the riff started, Jules simply spoke the name Alex and the band stopped silent and held the silence for a moment in tribute to Alex. I am old, beaten by the fists of God and soft, so I got a bit choked up. Fuck you cunts who are snickering right now. When the moment was over, Jules then said "this time....FOR ALEX!" and the riff kicked in and people went nuts. A very powerful moment in the show for sure. I'm sure Alex smiled somewhere. A cool story about Raybeez led into a nice cover of Warzone's "Fuck Your Attitude" at which point Jules asked the one and only Mr. Jeff Perlin of Breakdown/Slumlords fame to come front and center.... talk about irreplaceable front men. Jeff did Breakdown's "Sick People" and stayed up on the stage to help Jules in a killer rendition of Negative Approach's "Nothing". We then entered the home stretch. First up was the Side By Side song "Backfire" and of course everyone sang along and went nuts. Then came some Jules' nuggets of wisdom and the much anticipated "When Tigers Fight" the last of the original Alone In A Crowd songs, but certainly not the least. Anthony Drago even manned the ring bell for the "no ding" line. Never in all of belldom has a bell been so thoroughly dominated and well played. He made it his bitch. I saw it smoking a cigarette afterwards. The set ended on "Death Comes Ripping" by the Misfits which was great but they probably should've played it before "When Tigers Fight".
It was an amazing show and I hope that some of the positive energy generated lifts Howie and he kicks this thing’s ass once and for all. All of these bands are awesome for doing this. Joe Hardcore is a great man for putting on the show. The brotherhood is strong but I urge you to visit the GoFundMe page to help out in whatever way you can as Howie still needs us even after the music fades. Karma is a bitch but good karma is a blessing, so give if you can you bucket of despicables.
IN 2014 ATOMIC ACTION RECORDS RELEASED A RE-MASTERED VERSION OF THE 1989
ALONE IN A CROWD 5 SONG EP. CLICK BELOW TO BUY OR STREAM
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