So Jessie texted me tonight to see if I wanted to get dinner. I told her I was going to see Throwdown at 6:00 and she could come if she wanted, but she just said to text her when I was done. So I went down to the Blender Theatre a little after 6:00, and it was a pretty cool place. Half was standing room, and then behind it was stadium seating, so I went up and sat down waiting for the bands to set up. I will admit it was kind of a weird bill (Throwdown, Soilwork and War of Ages), but it was a stranger mix of people. There was the good old straight-edge hardcore crew I expected to see, but a lot of gothic/metal-type people too. Lots of those ridiculous black Hot Topic bondage pants, and one of their wearers (who also had a dumb haircut and a shirt that said “heavy fucking metal”) had a ridiculously hot girlfriend, which made me quite irate. Going to see Throwdown in New York, I kind of expected the house music to be some Madball or Youth of Today or maybe some Sick of It All. You know, straight-edge NYHC or something. But instead it was a bunch of super annoying metal. And it only got worse from there.
At about 7:00, War of Ages came on. What an assorted hodgepodge of misfits, and I mean that in the most loving way possible. Being a born-again punk since age 15, I know I’m not supposed to judge people how they look, but this band was pure look-by-numbers, trying to match their musical identity crisis with their appearance. Not knowing whether they’re a metal or metalcore band, half the members had shaved domes, while the other half had Flying V guitars and long, thrash-revivalist hair down to their backs, which whipped about as they choreographically banged their heads during the “metal” parts of their songs. Some of their songs sounded alright, but there were too many cheesy finger-tapping guitar solos and metal posturing. And what the hell is a Christian band doing inviting their fans to raise their “devil horns” in the air? That ain’t right. To top things off, they covered some shitty Pantera song, sending it out to Dimebag Darrell, who is suddenly a martyr to every metalhead and their mother even though he wasn’t even in Pantera when he was shot. I pray for the day when people stop worshiping a band that was openly misogynist (anyone who saw the VH1 special on groupies in the late `90s can back me up) and relied on Confederate Flag imagery to draw in fans (check out this gem for the “best” of both worlds). The one good thing I can say about War of Ages is that their inter-song comments were very upbeat and positive, and thankful for the crowd’s attention. Though the singer did dedicate one song to what sounded like “all the lawyers and Christians out there.” Not sure what that means.
I was pretty tired when Soilwork came on, but I did notice a few things:
- There was a buttload of people there to see them (more than for Throwdown, which I would later find out)
- They are from Sweden.
- When they started playing, the smell of weed wafted through the venue, strange for a concert with a straight-edge headlining act.
- The lead singer said the words “New York” and “Are you ready?” at least 150 times each.
- They stayed almost entirely stationary the whole set. No stage presence, but it was easy to hear they were talented (if you’re into that kind of stuff).
At this point I was feeling pretty down about the show in general. I just sat in my chair and zoned out for awhile. Then I saw a kid with a Mohawk, and another kid with a Gorilla Biscuits shirt complimented my H2O shirt, and that made me feel a little better. I had almost forgotten that Throwdown was still coming on and hoped they were gonna kick out plenty of hardcore for the NYHC crowd. But damn, I could not have been more wrong. After a lengthy set-up that involved hoisting up a giant Throwdown banner and placing two giant silk-screened snake prints on stage, the band came out and launched into “Holy Roller.” A pit opened up, but those who were in it stood still. Nobody really seemed sure what to do. Frontman Dave Peters was understandably irritated by this, and instructed the audience to get moving. But I’m not sure how he expected them to do this by following “Holy Roller” with “Day of the Dog,” which is about the least dance-inducing song in their catalog. I think he was banking on grabbing the appeal of the metal dudes who were there to see Soilwork, but a lot of them had already left or moved up to the seats in back. As a result, yet again the audience was fairly motionless. Dave then announced they were going to play an old one, and everyone cheered and danced through “Never Back Down.” It was now pretty clear what the audience wanted to hear, and it wasn’t what the band wanted to play. Dave went on a shpiel about how it would be boring to look out and see the same audience with the same haircuts and clothes every show. Now, from talking to him in the past, I know Dave is a really nice guy and obviously has the best of intentions. But I don't think they had to try playing a pretty bland type of metal to reach more metal fans; they could just do more tours with metal bands. I mean, Whole Wheat Bread doesn't have to play ska to find love from ska kids -- they just tour with a bunch of ska bands and have built a huge following among the checkered crowd. And looking up at the band on stage, Throwdown's image of solidarity seemed forced. The band’s new guitarist Mark Choiniere was sporting his Testament hairdo and a Minor Threat shirt with perfectly cut sleeves that looked like it had never been washed, let alone been worn, which was about as convincing as Robbie Williams in a Morbid Angel shirt. Yeah, it’s a different band now, I know, I guess maybe I wished they were still the kind of band that would play Gilman Street and where I wouldn’t have to worry about breathing a zillion carcinogens from the fog machine. They played a couple more old ones like “Unite” and “Walk Away” that got everyone dancing, but there were some annoying headbangers standing right next to me that lowered my enjoyment level. I swear…I would rather get kicked in the teeth by some hardcore ninja than have the long, stringy hair of some sweaty metalhead run through my fingers as he “thrashes” his dumb head around. So here’s what the set list looked like so far:
- Holy Roller
- Day of the Dog
- Never Back Down
- I, Suicide
- Walk Away
- Weight of the World
By the time Dave announced the next song was “Weight of the World,” it was 10:00 and I decided I’d better go meet Jessie. We went to Times Square and I got Jamba Juice because I wasn’t really hungry. But now I have to poop.