BLACK ‘N BLUE BOWL @WEBSTER HALL, NYC. MAY 21, 2017
GORILLA BISCUITS, REST IN PIECES, TERROR, TOKEN ENTRY, INDECISION,
MAXIMUM PENALTY, FIRE & ICE…AND MORE.
PHOTOS BY: RICH ZOELLER & PETE GREGORY. REVIEW BY: CHRIS WYNNE
Being a grown ass responsible adult sometimes means you have to take one on the chin to do the right thing. The old saying of family always comes first meant that this was my second year in a row where I missed a chunk of the BNB Bowl but I have no regrets. So to start here apologies to Mind Force, Coldside, Break Away, Brick By Brick, Line Of Scrimmage, Vietnom, and God's Hate who all played before I arrived.
First up for me was RVA's FIRE & ICE who seem to be coming out of this dormant state they have been in over the last few years. Back in 2012 when In Effect was restarting the engines as a website these guys were pretty active in support of their then current full length “Not Of This Earth” but in more recent years things have been pretty quiet with more of a resurgence here in the first half of 2017. F&I took the stage seemingly on a mission really getting into their songs and delivered one impressive set full of some high octane shit. Anyone who has been to recent BNB’s has seen that the big dance floor at Webster Hall doesn’t get impassible to the headliners start rolling in leaving plenty of room to dance from the start to the middle bands and during this set there was a lot of clean, and very hard dancing going down. Songs that stuck out were “History Repeats” off of that previously mentioned 2012 full length and two new ones that were played back to back in their 25 minute or so minute set. First up was “Stay Tuned” which is a mid-paced head nodder followed directly up with “Frequency”… both of which came out just a few weeks back as a 2 song flexi 7 inch on Reaper. F&I are a nice band that I am glad are back and with new music to bring us. If you are a Leeway fan they are recommended listening as they bring the groove while keeping shit hard to the core.
FIRE & ICE. PHOTO BY: RICH ZOELLER
MAXIMUM PENALTY were up next and I swear this band has never sounded better to me as they just crushed BNB 2017 like a bug versus a windshield. They whipped through their set with pretty much the current day set list that is really working for them mixing in a nice blend of the old and the new(er). Fav’s like “Hate”, “Coming Home”, “Immaculate Conception”, “Life & Times”… all included here. Their journey as a band has seen them come out of the gate in the late 80’s as a full-fledged NYHC “mosh it up” style unit and throughout the years they have added layer upon layer of such well written music that challenges the traditional sounds of what New York Hardcore is supposed to sound like. MP does not oversaturate themselves by playing every weekend which makes their appearances like this one, last summer’s Dr. Know benefit in NYC and the recent Dave Franklin Tribute Show in NJ hit that much harder when you see them play out live. It was absolutely no surprise to see the crowd eat every song right up and deliver the energy coming down from the stage right back up to the band. Eric “GOAT” Arce who has been around the block in the underground music scene with bands like the Misfits, Murphy’s Law and Skarhead recently took over the vacant drumming spot and essentially makes MP a hardcore all-star team. I don’t think I can smooch this band’s rear end any more than I already have here so I will move on to Indecision who were up next but not before saying that MP should have a new EP out this year which should be a monster considering the wave they seem to be riding these days.
MAXIMUM PENALTY. PHOTO BY: RICH ZOELLER
To me what is amazing about hardcore and NYHC in particular is the fact that people grow up, get older and yet still have this intense connection to the music that they grew up on. INDECISION are no longer those young kids from Brooklyn cramming into their van to play anywhere with a stage from here to the outer limits of the universe but on these rare occasions where they do dust off their amps they just fucking bring it. “Unorthodox” from 1996 was my main source of love for this band and they started off their set with some jams from there as the crowd simply went ape shit as did the band in their trademark style. I mean when have you EVER seen Indecision play live where they don’t throw themselves around with pretty much reckless abandon? The intensity of Indecision’s fan base to me is eerily similar to Kill Your Idols who like Indecision were one of the biggest names in NY and outwards during the 1990’s largely in part to their blue collar like work ethic where they fully immersed themselves into the underground DIY scene… making their own shirts, booking their own tours and planting seeds everywhere they traveled. Those fans (much like the band) are still around and were a big reason why the Indecision set was so much fun on this night. A set list of what was actually played escapes my brain at this time as well more than a week has passed since this show and I am left with just the feeling of knowing I witnessed something special from the majority of the bands on this day and Indecision’s set was just one slice out of many. On a side note we wish their guitar player Justin Brannan well in his attempt to run for city council in Brooklyn this November.
INDECISION. PHOTO BY: RICH ZOELLER
At this point of the show I really started to think about the sets I was seeing and how damn tight and on point they were… and then TOKEN ENTRY came out with that big giant green arrow behind them on the giant Webster Hall screen. A band that played just 2 shows last summer after being away for something like 73 years and now they reappear as this well-oiled machine sounding better than I ever remember them. Like last summer their lineup consists of Tim Chunks on vocals, Johnny Steigerwald on bass, Ernie Parada on drums and Jason Lehrhoff on guitar. I think with many of the bands who have members who have stuck around the hardcore scene it is a case where they simply are more experienced and better musicians than they were in their teens and early 20’s. “Entities”, “Revelation” and “Antidote” were up early and got the crowd right back at it with “Birthday” and “The Edge” finishing things up… obviously leaning heavily on their 2 best albums “From Beneath The Streets” (’87) and “Jaybird” (’88). “Honoring the tradition of the Sunday matinee” was the theme here and to this point there was no denying that they nailed it and then some as this was basically a CB’s matinee on some serious Superman steroid shit. It was just around 8pm in NY and a show that had its doors open at 1pm still had a ways to go before calling it a wrap. And oh, by the way… make sure to check out Tim Chunks’ new band called Let Rage! Tim plays guitar and sings for them. They have some music up on Bandcamp which you can check out HERE.
TOKEN ENTRY. PHOTO BY: PETE GREGORY
TERROR from LA were next and it’s hard to argue their status of being towards the top of the food chain when you break down the current day state of hardcore. Now although loved by many I will be totally honest here and say that I find them to be good on record and absolutely amazing when seen live. Taking a look at the crowd’s reaction I obviously don’t know what I am talking about as they responded in a big way and combined with Terror’s enthusiasm on stage made for an amazing visual experience as this was hardcore simply done right. Hard dancing, stage dive after stage dive set to the soundtrack of a finely tuned band wrapping up the last leg of a 2 week east coast tour. Sprinkle in a guest appearance by Freddy Madball for a cover of “Step To You” and that’s your icing on the cake right there. Terror fucking rocked it and I got this feeling that each band was watching the bands before them and knew they just had to dig a little deeper into the tank to try and top what came on before them.
TERROR. TOP PHOTO BY: PETE GREGORY. BOTTOM PHOTO BY: RICH ZOELLER
REST IN PIECES who were up next were this year’s version of “holy shit did you hear who is playing BNB this year?” Billy Club Sandwich, Crumbsuckers, Burn, Judge, Kill Your Idols, Outburst, and the Raybeez tribute back in 2012 were all previous contestants at previous BNB’s with some of them sticking around and others fading away just as quickly as they returned. The juice behind the lead up here was they have not been seen on stage together since the early 1990’s. Add on the fact that with Armand and Craig making up Sick of It All’s rhythm section…and considering SOIA’s non-stop touring schedule year in and year out… would we ever see this happen again? Rob Echeverria on guitar and Danny Schuler from Biohazard on drums rounded out the lineup which brought back 3 of their 4 main cogs. “Five Golden Rings” was the opener off their second album “Under My Skin” with frontman Armand Majidi shedding his SOIA drum kit for a microphone and the start of the next memorable set of the day/night. Their setlist here pretty much bounced back and forth from song to song between “Under My Skin” and their first album “My Rage” with their 1985 EP being cast aside on this night as far as my old brain can remember. In between songs Armand kept his between song banter to a minimum but a few things that stood out were dedicating a song to his wife with their 20th wedding anniversary just 2 days away and that song being “Keep Your Distance”. Previous to that we found out that he hadn’t seen his old guitar player Rob Echeverria in over 17 years before this reunion. Earlier in the set after spotting someone in the crowd with a Straight Ahead tattoo he mentioned that Tommy Carroll was in the building which would later lead to rumors (or more possibly hopes) of a Straight Ahead reunion for next year’s BNB. Who knows though. “My Rage” fittingly closed out Rest In Pieces’ set but not before a quick little explanation about who the “rage” was aimed at. Nothing about this set seemed haphazardly thrown together or half assed as everything just flowed extremely well and the band all seemed well rehearsed for songs that have sat mostly idle for a few decades. Hats off to these dudes for living up to the hype and hoopala and for obviously putting some hard work in beforehand to make sure this set came off sounding as good as it did. In case you missed it we did an interview with Rest In Pieces frontman Armand back in late March. Click HERE to check it out!
REST IN PIECES PHOTOS BY: PETE GREGORY
Headliners GORILLA BISCUITS kept the Queens, NY pride marching right along with specially made shirts in Mets orange and blue with the GB gorilla on the front with NEW YORK above it and HARDCORE with the number 17 on the back. NY Yankee loyalty had me look these up and down once and then move on just on principle. Brett Beach from Hardware Zine would have done the same. Nice shirt though! The lights dimmed just before GB took the stage and as in more recent GB history they had horn players live and in person to play the opening part of “New Direction” before the lights went fully back on as the song smashed us all in the grill. What a great song and in particular a great opening song that generates this great feeling of anticipation as the guitars finally come in setting this crowd off for one last time. Their last studio album “Start Today” is almost pushing 30 years old and for some reason still has this fresh vibe about it. The whole GB experience on a whole still has a fresh vibe as these guys have not aged much and outside of Walter’s long hair look a lot like their younger selves. Playing just a few shows a year at most probably is slowing down the aging process on these classics somehow. What is also noticeable is how GB kind of transcends any age barriers. Bands that got their start 30 years earlier usually draw fans that were around 30 years earlier which is fine as well as expected but at the same time many of those same bands don’t draw from the younger generations like GB can and does. A tight and well played set was capped off with the closer “Start Today” ending the night on a really high note and another BNB in the books. It was also really good to see Civ and the boys bounce back from the This Is Hardcore Fest PC shit show controversy from last summer that had them trending on social media and not in a good way.
I usually find myself at Webster Hall maybe once or twice a year at most with this event being the one constant pretty much year in and year out. While leaving on this night though I had to think about the recent news of Webster Hall’s sale to AEG Presents and another group who runs the Barclay’s Center in Brooklyn making me wonder if future BNB’s would be still held at this location and if they were how much (if anything) would change in regards to how the show is set up and run. For now though we can look back at a great day and night that will be talked about for many years to come. Long live the Black ‘N Blue Bowl!
GORILLA BISCUITS. PHOTOS BY: PETE GREGORY