With Transistor Transistor unfortunately dropping off last minute, Reclaim was up first, playing their usual confused brand of...well, hardcore I guess. The singer alternated between his talk-shout and piercing scream, and seriously, shit just does not work. Musically they have something going on there occasionally, but that was about it.
Gravemaker then came next with a quick 18-minute set. They had excellent energy and sounded tight enough, but their sound does little to nothing for me. They're neither excruciatingly heavy or melodic, instead traversing an all-too-straightforward territory somewhere in between; they have a former member of Figure Four, and that's probably the easiest and most sensible comparison. Audience members partook in the song's intermittent mosh parts and seemed to have an overall polite reaction to the band.
The Carrier, holy shit. They had the biggest response out of anyone on the bill and have just exploded in popularity in the northeast. Well, at least as far as New York City goes. I'm not hugely into their sound (yet?), but there's no denying they put on a great live show. Their towering style of metallic hardcore used to remind me a lot of Shai Hulud, but the direction of their newer material and the rougher finish they put on the songs live force it towards more of a Deathwish-type thing, that label being their recently found home. Frontman Anthony had a creepy mustache and a more raw, loose scream than usual. It actually makes them sound a bit more original, in any event. Kids really went off at nearly every turn for the 25 minutes among songs like "Hello Uncertainty," "No. 51" and the well-received "Panicstricken."
Sure, Ruiner might have put out a disappointing full-length, and live, they're not quite 100%. More like 75-80. Some of the songs are played way too fast, sometimes distorting the ability to even recognize the song, and Rob Sullivan's vocals are delivered through this raggedly intense scream that counters any chance on trying to follow along with him. But you know what? They're the most honest band in hardcore, hands down. It's more than just the obvious stuff -- the incredibly bare bones narratives on Prepare to Be Let Down and the album title itself. There's absolutely no bullshit to what they do. They get up on stage, release their tensions in furious 1:30 bouts (Sullivan awkwardly whacking at the curtain that was draped along the wall stage left), possibly say a few angry words of banter in between songs and leave. In fact, when they opened for what was to be This Is Hell's CD release show with Soldiers on Long Island during such a tour a few months ago (the show was shut down due to capacity and violence issues), Sullivan hysterically introduced the band by simply saying "You can move up. We have little to no mosh parts." and then added "The Backup Plan is better than This Is Hell."
Their crowd response wasn't exactly overwhelming, but I've never seen them get the biggest reaction around these parts. The songs off 2005's What Could Possibly Go Right...? EP had sporadic responses, with some involving only one or two people knowing the words but then "Adhering to Superstition" involving a towering pile-on for the closing words. It was basically the same with Prepare to Be Let Down's songs, with "Kiss That Motherfucker Goodnight" getting the best reaction.
Set list (9:30-9:51):
- Paint Peals
- The Lives We Fear
- That Stone Better Be on Fire
- 40 Miles North
- Out Go the Candles
- When the Mourning Ends
- Six by Six
- Kiss That Motherfucker Goodnight
- Adhering to Superstition
Ever since hearing 2005's In Place, Apart
, I never really understood the Comeback Kid comparisons Killing the Dream has consistently dealt with. However, I'd never seen them live, either (though I was supposed to when they toured with Ruiner in July 2006 and had a show on Long Island shut down...I'm sensing a theme here). Now
I see where it comes from. Rarely have I heard such a noticeable discrepancy between a hardcore band live and recorded. Frontman Eli Horner's voice is transformed from a scratchy scream to a much cleaner shout, and the metallic, rough sheen applied by Kurt Ballou is completely stripped away. Sure, a lot of those cool, unique guitar tones and riffs are still there, and you can tell those songs are Killing the Dream's, but it's bizarre how different they truly sound.
It's not necessarily a bad thing, though. And it gets the crowd going a good bit either way. They opened with the 1-2-3 of "Where the Heart Is" (with its awesome refrain of "this is all I have / just fucking take it!
"), "Part II (Motel Art)" and "Rough Draft (An Explanation)." They also threw in a few new ones, including "Thirty Four Seconds" and its completely silly yet somehow invigorating close of "I've never fucking said it before / I've never fucking meant it more / Fuck you / Fuck all of you
." As well, they pulled out "Four Years Too Late," "Before You Fall Asleep," "We're All Dead Ends" and I think "Picking Up the Pieces." The crowd lobbied for one more song after Horner said he was about to pass out and were granted a finale in the form of the title track off their new record, Fractures
, which was probably the highlight of the 32-minute set. In return, Horner asked for an east coast circle pit and was given just that.