Weekly internet radio show Generic Insight celebrated its fourth anniversary with a super solid lineup of fresh melodic punk and hardcore acts. While featuring plenty up-and-comers (Such Gold, Caleb Lionheart, Incendiary), it also featured headliners None More Black playing on the cold floor of an expansive, grungy four-story building nestled under the train tracks on Broadway in Bushwick. The punk rock flea market (band merch, label merch, etc.) was upstairs, where the building's tenants' party remnants and a cushion-less couch were scattered about the floor while a large heater on the wall remained off...the entire time... The punx? They were thoroughly upped.
Caleb Lionheart kicked things off with a shortened four-song set of their Marathon-inspired, socially-aware pop-punk. The band were--unfortunately--the lab rats of the fest, though: You couldn't hear frontman Tony Bucci's vocals at all, really. That was a pity, since his wavery voice is one of the more unique aspects of the band's whole setup; but what they lacked in unfortunate technical issues they more than made up for in energy. As soon as the notes of the first song, "Home," rang out, Bucci was practically sprinting from one end of their space to the other and everyone else save their drummer was jumping and striking chords. The crowd was into it, too, as the song was probably their most well-received despite the mic issues.
I caught a little bit of Rust Belt Lights' set, another melodic hardcore-addled pop-punk act, this one comprising (ex-?)members of Daggermouth, as well as Dead Hearts. I remember thinking the demos on their MySpace were only okay, but the band came off a little better and realized in person here. They did sound a little same ol' same ol', but their pedigree has already proved they've got the capability to go beyond that, so hopefully it comes to fruition.
Incendiary interrupted the pop-punk lovefest for their usual demolishing, mid-'90s hardcore revival. The band had one fill-in on guitar and one other new member in their lineup apparently, but you really wouldn't know the difference; they still sounded heavy and pissed, and frontman Brendan Garone still beat his chest in frustration and tried stomping holes through the concrete floor, nearly succeeding in the process. With a crowd primarily here for more melodic, punk-oriented acts, this was probably the least violent set I've seen the band play in NY/LI; so that much was cool. The band played "Dissension" (I think), "Sacramentum," "Antichrist," "Choosing Sides" and closer "Sinking" among a few others and quickly peaced, having to open for Killing Time later that night. Busy dudes.
While Such Gold seemed a little sluggish, as they weren't quite able to match the exact tempo often played so fast on their incredibly solid EP, Stand Tall, I couldn't really ask for a more perfect set song choice-wise; it consisted of all five tracks from the EP, one new jam, and set-staple covers of the Movielife's "I Hope You Die Soon" and Saves the Day's "You Vandal" back-to-back. The 30-second Movielife take got a few kids psyched, but with "You Vandal," shit just erupted. As far as that new song, there are certain moments on Stand Tall where frontman Ben Kotin just sounds enthusiastic as hell and the band complement him with a perfectly melodic, quick pace beneath him--that's largely what made it up.
With the show running almost an hour-and-a-half late last I'd checked, I figured the show's "dinner break" would be cut and I'd have to skip some band to get food. I was planning on giving Former Thieves the axe, but eating my roasted chicken, beans and rice upstairs and listening to their set, I realized I was hearing a pleasant blend of heaviness I'd like to see in person. So I pushed the rest of the portion aside and went downstairs to find that a lot of other people probably had the same idea as me: There were only a dozen or so watching this Iowa quartet slam through their apparently excellent, mid-tempo metallic hardcore. They've been described to me as "Botch meets Modern Life Is War," and while I'd say that's pretty accurate, there was a ferocity yet restraint about them that reminded me a lot of Achilles. Yet another bummer here, however, was that you couldn't hear their singer at all; by the set's intense end, he had dropped the mic altogether and was jumping off the kick drum and pumping his arms in some sort of powerful and bloodthirsty glory as his bandmates bashed and thrashed through to the song's epic climax. It was really awesome, and a really full and enticing sound for only coming from one guitarist, a rhythm section and a couple effects pedals. Definitely recommended if you dig that sort of sound.
After an extended dinner break that occurred after all (and practically set things back anyway), Static Radio NJ came up to play their bouncy blend of unabashedly Lifetime/Kid Dynamite-influenced melodic hardcore. I wonder if they felt a little sheepish, as None More Black had just arrived. Anyway, singer Mike now plays guitar for the band too, so they're now a more rock-looking quartet but still play those faster songs at their fun, aggressive speeds. I remember them playing "Green Hoody" and "Marc" among a couple others, as well as a new one that laid off the influences considerably and strived for something a little more uptempo-punk-oriented.
I think the Reveling played at this point, but my memory's fuzzy. There isn't much to say about them, but that's because they were steady as they tend to be on crowded lineups like this. Vaguely Gaslight Anthem-esque and the perfect amount of grit, just like their 3D Radio EP. My favorite was the tasteful "A Recurrent Rescindment of Self."
A band I was pretty pumped for was next, that being Hostage Calm. I don't know when these dudes decided to start looking like the Smiths, but I'm kind of stoked on it (frontman Chris even had the half-tucked dress shirt thing going; sup Morrissey?). That's especially because there's a really quiet ambition about their new stuff that reflects it, which takes their world-weary, '80s-nodding (Rain, Descendents, etc.) melodic hardcore to more interesting heights; "Affidavit," which they opened their set with, has a vaguely Crime in Stereo Is Dead-esque quality about it, while the two other new songs were short slabs of equally dynamic fare with really rhythmic and genre-spanning credentials. I heard from some peers/fellow fans that the band's set was largely boring, but I'd disagree--mostly because "Affidavit" (which has grown on me quite a bit since it was first streamed online) was followed by two of their other best songs, "Nosebleed Section" and, I think, "400,000." Again, you couldn't really hear the vocals, but it was an enjoyable set and it was cool to hear some more new stuff from their upcoming self-titled, sophomore LP on Run for Cover.
After the Fall followed with their speedy, technical take on melodic skatepunk. Think Propagandhi. Then think...Propagandhi. But really, they were rad, as usual, and it was adorable to see a bunch of their hometown bros crowded around and singing along passionately (highlight: "Thomas Philbrick"). I'm sure there were a few legit fans snuggled in the dudecrowd too, but it got way more involved and excited when they busted out a cover of Jawbreaker's "Do You Still Hate Me?". I kinda wish bands would pick other Jawbreaker songs once in a while (I might have mentioned this in another review, but I recently saw Balance and Composure do "Chemistry" and it was refreshing) but I geeked out along with everyone else anyway. I kinda had to. They also added Circle Jerks' "Deny Everything" and Descendents' "Coffee Mug" for good measure.
LIHC favorites Capital came up next with a nice mix of stuff off their two full-lengths (2006's Signal Corps ["Wolverines," "Emergency Broadcast"] and 2007's Homefront ["Live Dammit Live," "On a Mission," "Mosh Parts," "Homefront," "Disclaimer"]), as well as "Out of Business," from last year's Blind Faith 7". No covers; no new jams. That was pretty okay, since the band seem to do at least of one of each every time I see them. They also played a fade-in to the end of the rarely played "Goth N Roll," which was weird, but sort of cool.
This review's been long enough, but, you know, I have to talk about None More Black. Out of the handful of times I've seen them, this is the weirdest they've sounded; I don't know if it was the sound system here, or just the way the band played, but all their songs were unusually noisy and abrasive, which cut down the core melody of their sound. And...again...vocals... But None More Black's slow, staggering stride back to activity has involved live shows few and far between, so do you think anyone really gave a shit? If they did, you couldn't tell. A horde of ballistic males and females spent 47 minutes screaming in Jason Shevchuk's scrunched-up face, knocking the mic stand over on several occasions and prompting Shevchuk to figuratively shrug his shoulders and shout right back at the crowd in anxious joy. A few solo pile-ons occurred, especially for closer "Oh, There's Legwork," but the crowd held tight and kept the bodies from really fucking up the setup.
Highlights, at least for me, included "Everyday Balloons" and "Nothing to Do When You're Locked in a Vacancy"; both are probably my favorite NMB songs, but since the latter's tucked away on the first Rock Against Bush compilation, very few people were familiar with it. Although, Colin McGinniss straight shredded a solo for "Opinions and Assholes."
The band played a few new ones, of course. "Mr. Artistic" has a lot of wah-wah from McGinniss at its outset, but it quickly launches into a fast-paced, twangy and vaguely cowpunk-esque romp. "Zip File" seemed familiar for some reason, but Google seems to largely shut down my suspicions.
Set list (11:17-12:04):
- Bizzaro Me
- My Wallpaper Looks Like Paint
- Banned from Teen Arts
- We Dance on the Ruins of the Stupid Stage
- Dinner's for Suckers
- With the Transit Coat On
- Mr. Artistic (new song)
- Drop the Pop
- Genuine Malaise & Misery
- Everyday Balloons
- Opinions and Assholes
- Zip File (new song)
- Nothing to Do When You're Locked in a Vacancy
- Oh, There's Legwork
Photo Credits: Meghan McInnis...obviously. And for the one without the text, Carly Hoskins.