[Sporadic add-ons from Brian as read.]
Being knocked unconscious during a Mastodon set does not qualify me as "hardcore" -- though it should. This show featured the most diverse lineup, and interestingly, each band had its own fanbase.
These Arms Are Snakes, a Seattle-based post-hardcore band on Jade Tree Records, were supposed to open the show, but their van broke down, and had to cancel [Bummed!]. Cursive was moved up to opener and took full advantage of the early large crowd. Tim Kasher did not have time for his usual drunken banter, as the band was all business this night. The set leaned heavily off its latest release Happy Hollow, including "Big Bang" and climactic closer "Dorothy at Forty." Also making an appearance was "Sierra," off breakout record The Ugly Organ. The band's big sound filled the venue, with Kasher's vocals soaring above the mix. The result was much better than the lackluster performance last October at Webster Hall, where the sound seemed hollow and where Kasher even bragged about his poor performance.
[Ed.'s notes: Outside of "Art Is Hard," Cursive's response seemed sort of lackluster, but there was a couple obvious fans in attendance mixed amongst impatient Against Me! fans up front (from my vantage point, at least). Still, that was disappointing to see considering their set was fucking fantastic. The horn section backing the older material was a nice surprise and oddly worked. Think of the ridiculous "Butcher the Song" made even more chaotic by brass -- yeah.]
Set list (7:40-8:25) [inserted by Brian]:
- Butcher the Song
- The Great Decay
- Big Bang
- Into the Fold
- Art Is Hard
- Bad Science
- The Martyr -----
- Bad Sects
- A Gentleman Caller
- The Game of Who Needs Who the Worst -----
- Dorothy at Forty
Against Me! brought energy to the stage that doesn't exist in mere human beings. It was unreal. Beginning with the classic "Pints of Guinness Make You Strong," the crowd was immediately called to action. Pogoing kids sang every word of the fiery fast-paced punk from Gainesville, Florida's finest. The band was clearly into the show, it being the largest venue they have likely ever played outside of Giants Stadium.
Four new songs surfaced as well; the band is premiering some material off their forthcoming release New Wave, which features production from grunge-era guru Butch Vig. "White People for Peace," the first single, features a half-assed attempt at an anthem demonstrating against an anthem demonstrating against war: "Protest songs! --in response to military aggression!" The lyrics are pathetic, but the energy behind it is authentic enough. The song still killed live, but the crowd stopped moving to pay attention. The same phenomenon repeated itself with each new song. Against Me! sprinted through 17 songs in less than 50 minutes. The marathon was a no-nonsense affair, with no talking between tracks, other than to thank the other bands before closing the set.
[Ed.'s notes: Against Me! also played really, really (expletive) well. I was way more into the set than I expected to be. I think the choruses on the new songs are a little 'big' and forced, but I don't mind them entirely. Anyway, they played an extremely enjoyable set overall, with just about every song I'd want to hear at an Against Me! show. In particular, the opening and closing trios were sequenced brilliantly. Maybe this band isn't dead to me quite yet.]
Set list (8:50-9:40) [again inserted by Brian]:
- Pints of Guinness Make You Strong
- ClichÃ© Guevarra
- From Her Lips to God's Ears (The Energizer)
- Rice and Bread
- Americans Abroad
- White People for Peace
- Those Anarcho Punks Are Mysterious
- Don't Lose Touch
- Unprotected Sex with Multiple Partners
- Turn Those Clapping Hands Into Angry Balled Fists
- new song (chorus: "our new restless/reckless army")
- Reinventing Axl Rose
- Sink, Florida, Sink
- T.S.R. (This Shit Rules)
- Walking Is Still Honest
About three-quarters of the way through the hour-long set, I was standing stage left, about halfway out into the crowd, which ended up being at the outer fringe of the metal/hardcore pit, when a large, muscular man threw me into the pit. He took me by my wrist and twisted; I spun to the epicenter of the inferno. As soon as I was oriented and about to walk out of the pit, a tall, skinny man with a metal t-shirt took his shoulder and rammed it into my chest. My glasses flew off, and I landed on my back and head, with my wrist underneath me.
I do not remember exactly what happened next, though I think I was hoisted upright by the fans behind me. I couldn't stand up (that I remember) and security must have been alerted. The next thing I know, I am hovering above the crowd on the shoulders of four CSS Security men, looking at the wide eyes of the people there to see Mastodon. I hung my head in shame, but I still could not see anyway; my glasses were gone forever. They let me off at the back corner, where the VIP gets to sit. I was walked (I still couldn't under my own power) by three other security men to an area behind the stage, where they brought me to an EMT, who examined me after asking for identification. I refused to go to the hospital, but accepted ice for my wrist. Listening to the performance in behind me, it was as if nothing had happened; the same meaty riffs, the same guttural cheers from macho men boomed in the venue.
I was let out from behind the stage after the set was over and the house lights were on. Remember, I still had no glasses, and I could see blurs all around me, but nothing in any detail. Until I was kicked out of Roseland, I looked for those glasses. They were nowhere to be found, so I walked the streets of New York City unable to see, clutching a ziplock bag filled with ice and, in the very least, a set of mostly pleasing memories from a diverse bill that will hopefully hand me a bill of health entirely more clean.