BLACK 'N BLUE BOWL 2016
REGULATE, BLIND JUSTICE, RHYTHM OF FEAR, RYKERS, BILLY CLUB SANDWICH, HAZEN STREET, LEEWAY, MADBALL, ADOLESCENTS, AMERICAN NIGHTMARE @ Webster Hall, NYC May 14, 2016
Written By: Chris Wynne & Dan Piro. Photos by: Jammi York, Rich Zoeller, Ken Buglione, & Brett Sweeney
Collage and graphics by: Bas Spierings
REGULATE. PHOTO BY: BRETT SWEENEY
I made damn sure I got to BNB 2016 on time to catch the openers Regulate who have quickly become one of my favorite new bands. Late arriving crowds at hardcore shows are nothing new and it is even more prevalent when it is a long day with a bunch of bands playing and that was the case again here. Regulate though didn't get fazed a bit as they came out playing the opening track off of their new EP "Years Of Rage". That opener is "Regulate II" and is a minute plus instrumental with just the lone lyric of REG-U-LATE! a few seconds in. That set off about 20 or so people into full on mosh mode as this bowl was officially underway. This was my first time seeing Regulate in person and what I took away from this is that they put on a ferocious live set with all of their members simply going bezerk. There was a point in their set where their lead singer Sebastian was moving so fast that he overslid where he wanted to stop and almost went full on into the side of the stage and another time where he had so much momentum that the microphone fell out of his hands but he was able to recover just in time to get back to his lyrics. Mike Botti on guitar was another example of Regulate's exuberance as he bounced all over the big Webster Hall stage for the 20 or so minutes that Regulate was given. The whole band was X'd up and just going off from start to finish. I think they won over some new fans with this set as they definitely had the crowds attention and were later given a shout out by BCS for being "fucking great" or something to that extent. Stop crying that there are no new good bands and check these guys out!
BLIND JUSTICE. PHOTO BY: BRETT SWEENEY
Up next was New Jersey's Blind Justice who have Mike Botti on vocals. Yeah, the same Mike Botti who was losing his mind just a few minutes earlier on guitar for Regulate. He still had plenty in the tank for this set and without a guitar holding him back was even more high octane bouncing all over the place. These guys have played BNB before and have a couple of releases out including a full length titled "Undertow" that came out just last year. Their sound relies heavily on 90's hardcore influences and are a perfect fit to be touring across the country with Regulate starting on June 1st. The crowd response was similar to the openers with a lot of the same participants taking advantage of a wide open dancefloor.
RHYTHM OF FEAR. PHOTO BY: JAMMI YORK
Rhythm Of Fear out of Florida were up next. Although a straight up thrash metal band these dudes have been getting some attention from the hardcore community as of late in part due to them having done some tour dates where Eddie Sutton of Leeway has joined them on stage. That and also, let’s face it, a lot of the hardcore out there... and for quite some time, isn't that far off from thrash metal. That shouldn't come as breaking news to most of you and some of it is damn good... (Power Trip anyone?) Eddie was in attendance for his spot with Leeway later in the night so it shouldn't have been too much of a surprise to see him come walking out during Rhythm Of Fear’s set to drop some of his ultra-distinguishable vocals on one of their tracks. For the most part their entire set consisted of the crowd standing with folded arms watching them play with polite claps following each song. Rhythm Of Fear is a good band that were a little out of place here but I applaud the fact that BNB mixed up the lineup and didn't have 10 bands all doing the same exact thing.
RYKERS. PHOTO BY: RICH ZOELLER
Rykers provided this year’s international flavor coming in all the way from Germany. In years past BNB has always seemed to slip in bands from abroad including Arrabio from Cuba back in 2013. Rykers has been around since the early 1990's but have not been together as an active unit straight through with a long stretch of time being totally inactive. Just last year saw the band part ways with their founding member and lead singer as well. When Rykers took the stage they had the look and feel of a seasoned band that has experience playing on big stages. Much like with Rhythm Of Fear the crowd stood back but frontman Dennis took the show down to the floor jumping straight off and on to the floor a couple of times trying to get some crowd momentum in their favor. Musically Rykers delivers a sound and style right out of the time period of when their band was born. The tail end of their set was just begging for a cover song to let the crowd grab the microphone and send Rykers back home on a high note. I was thinking a Cro-Mags, Agnostic Front or Breakdown cover for sure was in the works but they pull a wild card out and finish up with Token Entry's "The Edge". They sped it up and put a heavier/crunchier feel in to it and essentially "Rykerized" this old NYHC classic. Scott Huslinger who has had In Effect’s back for quite some time went for his vaulting himself up on the stage to sing the chorus and send Rykers off on a high note.
BILLY CLUB SANDWICH. PHOTO BY: RICH ZOELLER
Billy Club Sandwich were next and were probably the band that built up the most anticipation going into this year’s BNB. They haven't been at it in a few years and 2016 marks the bands 20th anniversary. The years they were together were formidable with them creating a style and sound that took no prisoners. NYHC in the 1990's was a rough place to be and Billy Club made no excuses that they were hear to wreck you with their music while their crowds were there to wreck each other with their bodies. The lights dimmed a little bit before they went on and the house PA blasted one of their intros with the hip-hop beat that repeats Billy Club, Billy Club, Billy Club Sandwich and I'm here for the BCS over and over. After the lights went back up a little they came out with an instrumental intro that led into the crowd favorite "Suckerpunch". Although Webster Hall was still not near capacity you felt a surge in the number of bodies move towards the stage just before BCS went on. Right from the start the pit opened up wide and the dance floor went full on bananas. A prison yard brawl was one of the first thoughts that came to mind with people just abusing themselves and those around them. For those yearning for some of that old New York... here was your chance to relive the old days, and good luck to you while you’re at it. Billy Club belted out 9 songs including "Bottom Of The Barrel", "Chin Music" and the finale "Slow With Your Hands". The love for these guys was obvious from the crowd and the band gave it all back in return. Each year BNB has that one standout set that people talk about down the road (Raybeez tribute in 2012 comes to mind) and this one (for me) was the show stealer for 2016. For fans of BCS it was announced shortly afterwards that they would be doing more shows in the near future as well. With the first half of BNB 2016 in the books I am gonna hand this review off to my boy Dan Piro who will take us the rest of the way.
THANKS CHRIS! BNB is arguably one of the best and most anticipated underground music fests of the year, every year, and is without a doubt my favorite. I’ve been going regularly since 2008, only skipping 2010 because it fell on the same day as my college graduation, so I of course am stoked to throw in my 2 cents about the night. As Chris reported; Billy Club set the bar pretty damn high with their set, it was so awesome to see them tear Webster Hall to shreds. Anytime I had seen BCS previously it’s been in a tiny joint, usually a dive bar, usually without a stage, so it was pretty cool to see them take this gigantic room and make it their bitch, leaving the crowd destroyed. Great job fellas! So, how did the night fare after everyone got their head blown off by the end of “Slow With Your Hands”?
HAZEN STREET. PHOTO BY: KEN BUGLIONE
Hazen Street was up next. This melodic side project featuring a proverbial “who’s who” of NYHC all-stars kept the crowds energy going. Their fun sing-songy style kept the crowd moving but also gave everyone a break from the over the top mosh. The best way to describe their set is FUN. Everyone looked like they were having a lot of fun. There was a lot of singing along, and very little crazy hard dancing. They played pretty much the bulk of their 2004 self-titled album, including the single “Fool The World”, which is the only song I’m really familiar with. Quick side note: It’s funny to me that on the same bill there was a band called HAZEN STREET and a band called RYKERS considering Hazen Street is a street in Queens that leads people to the notorious NYC jail Rikers Island. Powerhouse drummer Mackie played the entire set with his drums set up sideways, facing stage left. If anybody knows why that is, fill me in. It obviously didn’t hinder the performance, but I’m just curious as to the reasoning.
LEEWAY. PHOTO BY: KEN BUGLIONE
Up next was Leeway, (or The Eddie Leeway Show depending on who you ask). I have to admit I am a bit biased on this one for a few reasons. 1 – Leeway is one of my favorite bands, period. Not just one of my favorite hardcore bands, but favorite bands overall. 2 – I had a brief stint in one of the earlier lineups of The Eddie Leeway Show, but speaking as a fan, getting a chance to see these songs played live as a spectator is a stellar experience. And finally, 3 – This lineup featured my bandmate Rey Brutal on bass, and old pal Mark Thousands on guitar. So on top of getting to lose my mind to Leeway songs, I also got to watch my friends rip the stage apart. The thing about Leeway is that they were truly a musician’s band, so if you’re gonna play these songs, you can’t fake it. This lineup absolutely delivered, the music was so tight and as heavy as you’d expect it to be, with Eddie’s undeniable vocal style breaking through the mix. The set was broken into 2 sections with the first half being all songs from “Desperate Measures”, and the second half being all “Born To Expire”. The band was so on point, and the songs and crowd were so in sync and energized, that it lead to a true perfect storm of a set. Maximum mosh on my end.
MADBALL. PHOTO BY: KEN BUGLIONE
After basically wearing myself out for the night, I grabbed a good vantage point near the back to watch Madball, and Madball is a band that deserves to be watched and appreciated. This is a band that consistently delivers live. Such unbelievable feel for pocket with these songs; not a single note or sound out of place. The killer set was supplemented with original guitarist Matt Henderson playing to mark the 20 year anniversary of “Demonstrating My Style”. The “Demonstrating My Style” setlist was broken up, and songs from other eras were interspersed throughout. Old and new including classics like “Smell The Bacon”, and more recent bangers like the single “Doc Marten Stomp” from their most recent album; “Hardcore Lives”. Watching Madball live is like a case study in persistent, unfailing greatness. It’s truly an example of how certain bands just get better with time, never once lacking in professionalism or ability to deliver.
ADOLESCENTS. PHOTO BY: JAMMI YORK
The 2nd to last band of the evening was The Adolescents, the true OG. We’re talkin’ real deal, authentic, pioneering Los Angeles hardcore punk rock. It upsets me to report that the room cleared out a bit. The BNB crowd was clearly there for the heavy stuff, and unfortunately seemed to be cut down by about a third. I also must admit that I wasn’t initially all too familiar with a lot of their material, I of course can think of the obvious tunes; “Amoeba”, “Kids Of The Black Hole”, “L.A. Girl”, etc. Their set was pretty diverse, with a small handful of newer songs to pad the ones from the first album that I knew. The Adolescents live is nothing short of awe-inspiring, especially considering the fact that most of the songs from their set are 35 years old and still hold up! Not to mention that they were written when these cats were 16! These guys banged from song to song without really ever once slowing to take a breath. The band features only 2 original members; bassist and primary song writer Steve Soto and vocalist Tony Cadena. At the end of the day I’m glad that I got to see a first wave hardcore band, and was so impressed by their show that I’ve since been inspired to look further into their catalogue. This kind of diversity is a quality that I love about The Superbowl of HC (Black N Blue Bowl). Every year the BNB guys go out of their way to book different bands with very little yearly repeats, and there’s always the token old-school or more punky bands. Love it or hate it, it’s important to acknowledge the influence of the first wave of bands, and The Adolescents were the perfect choice for this year.
The night ended with American Nightmare. Ok I’ll just come out and admit it: I don’t know this band, and I was exhausted and just about ready to leave. If you came here lookin’ to read about the AN set I’m sorry to report I only stayed for one song. If it’s any consolation, it did look like what crowd was left were really stoked on that one song. So I can say I noticed AN’s fans are enthusiastic. But that’s about it. See ‘ya in 2017!
AMERICAN NIGHTMARE. PHOTO BY: BRETT SWEENEY