Macrock 2004 - live in Harrisonburg (Cover Artwork)

Macrock 2004

live in Harrisonburg (2004)

live show

Macrock is the annual Mid-Atlantic College Radio Conference which showcases a numerous amount of bands, labels, and special guest speakers in to one large two-day festival.

My girlfriend and I headed up from Savannah, GA for this to-do, both for the music and the panels. For the sake of space, I'll review the musical acts only, but I must say that the amazing panels on Saturday was what made the weekend so spectacular (in my eyes.) Keynote speaker Mark Anderson was fantastic, and a lot of the panels (art in indie music, indie business, etc.) were all worthwhile. But I digress...

Friday afternoon we arrived from our drive up from Myrtle Beach. It was a tiring 6 hour jaunt, so after picking up our tickets and meeting up with my friend Cory from The Kodan Armada (who unfortunately weren't playing), we took a quick nap before checking out the revised schedule of events. Deciding to head off to the closest venue, the shrill sound of hardcore could be heard from across the parking lot. Entering, we saw The Minus Tide up on stage... doing just about that. Standing up on stage and making noise. Nothing more. The lead singer was particularly un-energetic, and was almost painful to look at, he seemed almost as bored as I was. Nothing great about this band at all. However, we were really there to see the next band on the bill, described as members from Reggie and the Full Effect and Coalesce, The Esoteric. The Esoteric put on a great show, with an energetic frontman, a great relief from the monotony of the previous set. Although basically obvious hardcore with a couple vocal manipulations here and there, the set was still easy to watch. Very good, although somewhat standard, hardcore.

After The Esoteric, we switched venues to go catch Murder By Death, one of the bands I was really looking forward to seeing. The last time I saw them, I only caught the end of their set and really was looking forward to seeing a full bit now that I'm aware of the band's talented material. They did not disappoint one bit, as they put on a very solid set, filled with new and old material. The best part was that they all seemed to be one with their instruments, like the experience of playing them was nearly sexual in a odd way; the band was extraordinarly in to what they were playing and it came through in the intensity of the set. They even managed to close with 10 minutes of instrumentals (the full version of "Those Who Left" and the intro of "Those Who Stayed" together) and managed to get a very positive crowd response. Congrats to them.

Again we switched venues to head over to a small theater where we wanted to see Onelinedrawing. Upon arrival they were at capacity, but we managed to get in before Jonah went on. We caught the last bit of a set by Owen, but I was unimpressed; a very Dashboard Confessional-like acoustic act with better guitarwork but horribly immature and childish lyrics. Finally, Jonah came on with a guest guitarist named Ian. I will say this; of every show I have ever seen, this set has to be ranking as one of the best as far as the performer being relative to the audience. Jonah would constantly be talking to everyone, taking requests, answering questions, and advocating his beliefs. During "Bitte Ein Kuss" he stopped halfway through to say that it was a stupid white boy song about getting it on, but he believes that no one should be able to tell anyone else who can and can't be married. His voice was always timid while speaking but solid and full while singing. Easily the best set of the entire night, plus he did versions of "Bury White" by Far and "Lukewarm" by New End Original, and talked about how important music is.

After Onelinedrawing we went to see Pedro The Lion, the night's headliner, but we were feeling a bit under the weather after the long drive and still being slightly hung over from the previous night. After staying for 5 or 6 songs, we took off early. The new material from Pedro sounds like it will satisfy any former fan of the band, and possibly bring on a couple new fans, but it got me excited for the new record.

Saturday screamed hardcore. The schedule was filled to the brim with screaming delight, but it was also overlapping with the panels and speakers. Thus, I missed a few bands I wouldn't have minded seeing, but then again the panels were all very worthwhile.

The first act I saw was Lick Golden Sky while waiting for Hot Cross. They were pretty generic, but the lead singer was energetic enough, it kinda sucked that the crowd didn't really respond. The music was nothing new or mind blowing, but if you're a fan of Hot Cross, you might want to check these guys out. Hot Cross came on next and rocked just as much as I thought they could. After revealing they woke up at 4:30 to drive and play the set, just to then turn around and go back to New Orleans, I had more respect for them as they were putting on one of the better sets I had seen of a hardcore act thus far.

After eating some dinner, we headed up to the last venue of the night to check out local favorites, Circle Takes The Square. Now, all the kids in Circle go to the same school as me, and I've seen them only in house shows and bars, so I wasn't too sure what to expect. However, once the first chord was struck, the entire crowd of about 200 or so went into a frenzy and surged forward, fists in the air. This was far different than anything else I had seen; every other band so far people just stood around for, maybe bobbing their heads to and clapping only at the end of a song and set. Circle had a vigorous following, which I couldn't be happier about. An amazing all too short set left for the largest applause of the night and my shins overly bruised from being pressed against the stage. Check these guys out now before they get even bigger.

Rapider Than Horsepower was an odd, Blood-Brothers-like band that was seemingly hyper-active and not too interesting, if not awkward to listen to. Just not my cup of tea I guess. An Albatross was similar, but a lot better as far as putting on a show. I must have missed the memo that An Albatross requires tall skinny guys to strip down to jogging shorts only and mosh around. One kid even had a sword. Some cults just are hard to follow... I must not be one of the Laser Vikings, but nevertheless, it was quite an entertaining set.

Majority Rule were up to finish things off, but I wasn't really feeling their vibe after listening to hardcore for the entire day. They were good, a lot better than the rest of the bands, but it was getting old, and they really couldn't compare to the energy Circle had during their set.

All in all it was a great event that I'll be sure to head back to next year, and I would strongly suggest you do the same if you're in the vicinity. Best set awards go to Onelinedrawing, Circle Takes The Square, and Murder By Death respectively.