Any frequent reader of our site has heard the talk and anticipation of the reunion shows for influential melodic hardcore group Inquisition. For me, upon first hearing of the reunion back in September of 2006, I was excited yet hesitant to believe it would actually happen. When the band broke up in 1996, members went on to form some of punk rock and hardcore's more notable and recognizable bands; such vocalist Thomas Barnett grouped together Strike Anywhere, and both Ann Beretta and Foundation feature Rob Huddleston and Russ Jones. Finally, a date was set, which quickly sold out, and another was added, turning a reunion show into a reunion weekend that would never be forgotten.
I was fortunate enough to be asked by the band to assist with the filming of an upcoming live DVD (and live CD) of the show, allowing me to see much of the effort, planning and hard work that went into making the event happen. Considering two members of the four-piece live on opposite sides of the word (guitarist Mark Avery in the UK, and Thomas on the U.S. west coast), practices were difficult to arrange. Rob and Russ are the only members based out of Richmond, VA, the band's hometown and site of the shows, so they coordinated practices, which did not include all four members until the day before the first show (and was also the first time the four had been in the same room together since the band's break-up).
The first night featured local act Channel 43 and New Jersey hardcore favorites Ensign. Channel 43 received a lukewarm response, obviously attributed to the anticipation for the main event, and the crowd's overall disinterest in the brand of Hot Water Music-influenced post-hardcore. However, Ensign exploded on stage, playing a very memorable and inspired set, which managed to awaken the somewhat lethargic crowd. Vocalist Tim Shaw made sure to inform everyone of the influence Inquisition's music has shadowed on him, even pointing out his tattoo of the band's trademark heart emblem on the back of his leg.
With the Beatles' "Revolution 9" playing over the speakers, the four members of Inquisition hit the stage. The music cut and suddenly there was a familiar female voice echoing out the line "Revolution, I think it's called inspiration." Filming next to Russ on drums, I was witness to the energy that finally escaped in full from the crowd...and the band, as they launched into "Mute." Kids were flying all over the stage, and into the crowd, as a seemingly never-ending chain of people climbed onto the side of the stage and hurled themselves into the crowd with a variety of acrobatic dives. For over an hour, the band played an extremely tight set; consisting of the entire Revolution...I Think It's Called Inspiration LP, and a few select tracks from Broken Songs. Highlights included "Greta Brinkman vs. The City," "Fuse," "Idle Kids," "Hotel X," "Strike Anywhere" (yes, that's where the band name came from), and crowd favorites to scream along to: "Warning" and "Uproar."
Shortly after an amazing set on the first night, a slight damper was put on the anticipation of the following evening as it was learned that openers New Mexican Disaster Squad had encountered vehicle break-down and would not be attending. After some discussion it was determined that local friends Heroes Die would replace them on the bill.
With the inclusion of the Draft, old touring buddies of Inquisition from the early days of Hot Water Music, and the excitement of concluding a memorable weekend in music history of Richmond, Day 2 was hyped to be the better show of the weekend. Heroes Die started the evening off, playing a brand of heavy, metal-influenced hardcore akin to Terror or Hatebreed, and received a mixed reaction. Local friends were present to support the band for making it on the lineup of such an important event, while others stood around waiting for the night's other featured performers. The band played well, however, taking the place of another group that many were disappointed could not make it; it obviously took its toll on how Heroes Die were received.
The Draft came on to yet another mixed reaction. However, many, including yours truly, were singing along to every word from a set list comprised of mostly tracks from the debut LP, In a Million Pieces, especially the set (and album) opener "New Eyes Open," "Not What I Want to Do" and "Lo Zee Rose." Guitarist/vocalist Chris Wollard attempted to awaken the partially stagnant crowd by inquiring about the lack of energy and encouraging more movement, and overall fun. This was my fifth time experiencing the Gainesville, FL quartet, and easily the best set I've seen from them yet.
As they did for the first evening, Inquisition entered with the same musical/vocal recording introduction as the first night, and again launched into "Mute," again receiving a raucous response for a crowd ready to move. I've heard some refer to Night 2 as a little more violent as far as the atmosphere in the crowd, but the amount of smiles, voices singing along and overall enthusiasm easily matched, if not surpassed Friday's event. The set list was almost identical, which was expected as the band promised the LP in full both nights, but a few more surprises from the past were tossed in. The highlight of the night, and possibly the weekend, was the inclusion of the song "Day by Day." The track holds personal meaning to my friend Dave, who runs a production company appropriately titled daybyday (who happens to be responsible for the upcoming Avail documentary). He was filming on the opposite side of the stage from me, and halfway into the song, he dropped his camera and ran to the front of the stage, doing a full flip into the crowd. Stories such as this are probably common for many in attendance, as Inquisition's music holds a lot of meaning and inspired great music from others later on in life. Despite some technical problems with equipment (I was told an amp actually caught on fire -- oddly appropriate), nothing could detract from the emotional, yet extremely fun and invigorating effect of the set that night. Afterwards, the band packed up and played a small acoustic set of roughly six songs at a small bar on the other side of town. Though it was limited to acoustic guitars and Russ equipped with a snare and a cymbal, Thomas turned the bar into a massive experience for all in the room, standing in the middle of a small crowd, screaming some old songs along with some old and new friends.
The weekend itself was simply amazing. I met some new friends, and hung out with some old pals, including your favorite Punknewsers Brian and Kirby. For anyone else I met, hung out with, shared a beer or a laugh with, thanks for making these two shows some of the greatest experiences I've had.