Day Three of the Metalfest is traditionally mostly the hardcore bands day to rule the roost. The early champions of knuckle breaking, head bashing music were bands such as Brick By Brick and The Greenery. Beyond the Shore was the first main stage band I saw and there were a solid metalcore band able to pass muster with the fans able to get up early. The band that really had me excited was Waking The Dead which features ex-Suicidal Tendencies axe-man Mike Clark. As a first time front man, Mike was holding down the rhythms, shredding all the solos and also singing lead vocals too. In addition to playing some ST rarities such as ‘Master of No Mercy” they of course did ‘Waking The Dead’. Joined by Devin Pahl on Bass and Rob Woods on drums, the band played a nice set of crossover anthems. There was even a small circle pit that opened up at one point during the old No Mercy song, ‘Widespread Bloodshed’. I’ll be looking forward to their debut album coming out this fall.
While the hardcore kids duked it out upstairs to the strains of Turnstile, Thick As Blood and Sworn In, I ducked outside catch some air, do some interviews and eat some pretty good/gross festival food. Coming back downstairs I caught bits of Legion and I Declare War who were solid, but nothing special to my ears. Even though everyone was packing the little room to see back to back sets from head-breakers in Remembering Never and soon to be disbanding Trapped Under Ice, I chose to sit out and catch one of the few real death metal bands of the weekend, Job For A Cowboy.
And make no mistake, JFAC has graduated to a full fledged death metal band, from their mere beginnings as a young tech death band just out of high school. Oh, they still bring the technical flash, but they are so much better now since releasing last years’ ‘Demonocracy’ album. The especially stood out this weekend with a lack of traditional death metal bands. They were customarily sick as always, and immediately put to shame some of the lamer bands who had come on right before them.
It’s no small thing that crossover thrash institution D.R.I. is still out touring the globe and slaying audiences. The legendary band that basically spawned their own sub-genre of metal has had their share of ups and downs, most notably guitarist Spike Cassidy‘s battles with colon cancer. They are a band that continues to operate outside of the mainstream, never quite making that next new album to cash in with, and they stopped making videos when they were still good. D.R.I. chugs along like that the little engine that thrashed. Every show by the band is a greatest hits set, and when you see them play for an hour, you can still name a bunch of great songs they didn’t have time for. Tonight the band ran through many great jams like ‘Couch Slouch’, ‘Suit and Tie Guy’, ‘Violent Pacification’, ‘Thashard’, ‘Madman’, ‘Slumlord’, ‘Five Year Plan’ and so many more. Great work guys!
NYHC veterans Sick of It All were up next and I’m not sure the Boston area crowd was prepared what what was coming next. SOIA always brings the fire live and they are active and intense as performers as their sound is. Even though they weren’t the first to do it, I was always mad people gave them shit back in the day for adding the melodies to their rough riffs. The songs have still stood the test of time such as ‘It’s Clobberin Time’, ‘Step Down’, and ‘Straight Ahead’. Lou, Pete, Craig and Armand may not be The Beatles, but they make on helluva fearsome foursome. Their live show puts to shame many other bands half their age. The crowd could barely keep up with the band. It was cool to see a lot of people just moshing righteously for these last few bands, with a lot less dickish, tough guy, invisible ninja bullshit pit fighting I’m used to these days.
At long last, a massive Suicidal Tendencies banner overlapped the NEMHCFXV banner than hung all weekend. The stage seemed kind of sparse to me, save for the enormous drum riser, even for a headliner of ST’s stature. I was really pleased to see people stuck around for the end of the weekend, and there were clearly more ST fans, by a merch count alone, than any other band represented. Opening with the incomparable anthem ‘You Can’t Bring Me Down’, the band was on fire and as strong as I’d ever seen them. Cyco Mike Muir scampered all over the stage like a hyperactive kid and did his thing as always. Dean Pleasants shredded his tail off like I’d never seen him before. He was always baddass, but he has been on some next level stuff , blazing solos the last few years. Joining him on guitar in place of Mike Clark now is Nico Santora, who also proved he could hang with the best over on his side of the stage. After rocking through “Institutionalized” the band played a new song off of their recent album 13 (Suicidal Records), ‘Show Some Love…Tear It Down’, which fit right in with the best material from their back catalog. But the fans want to hear the old gems too like the great gang vocals of ‘War Inside My head’, the grooves of ‘Subliminal’ (with a massive modern breakdown for the ending), ‘Send Me Your Money’, ‘Possessed to Skate’ and many more. Bassist Tim ‘Rawbiz’ Williams and drummer Eric Moore might be one of the best rhythm sections I’ve ever seen, capable of holding it down or veering off into funky territories unknown. One great thing about this set to me was that it was strictly an ST show, and the band is leaving the Infectious Grooves songs out of the set. Ultimately it is Mike who ties it all together: singing, screaming, pontificating and philosophizing between songs like the master Sherpa of hardcore. The real twist of the night was the brilliant version of “How Will I laugh Tomorrow’, which the band hasn’t played live in nearly two decades. Many tough dudes in the pit were wiping away tears, even if they might deny it now. I know I got choked up myself. It was pretty damn amazing. Coming out for the encore, the band invited the entire floor it seemed on to the stage for ‘Pledge Your Allegiance’. Mike was the maestro from the top of the drum riser. What a fun and cathartic way to close out the weekend and the festival.
New England Hardcore And Metal Festival XV Day Three
The Palladium, Worcester MA
April 19 – 21
Photos and text: Keith Chachkes