September 15, 2008

Concert Review: Hatebreed w/ Emmure, Soilent Green, War of Ages, Catalepsy - September 13, 2008 Poughkeepsie, NY

It was heaven for hardcore kids as Hatebreed's Live Dominance tour rolled into Poughkeepsie, NY. Along with them, the hardcore heavyweights brought a strong selection of younger, up and coming acts, in an effort to deliver a strong bill worth the money as well as bringing the ability to exhaust and dehydrate as many kids as possible. It turned out to be a task they were more than up to, evidenced by the glazed look on the faces of the countless fans I witnessed as we spilled out into the moist night. Love 'em or hate 'em, Hatebreed knows how to deliver a show.

As I arrived at The Chance, I could already hear a band playing inside as the line outside continued to grow outside. There were instruments, fans, and bands all over the place. You see, this was a big night for the club complex, as getting into the Hatebreed show also got you into the concurrently running Trouble show running at neighboring club The Loft. So, while one band was getting set up, you could head into the other club to tide you over, it helped keep the night going with a continuous stream of music. This just helped to increase the number of music-hungry fans milling around. All of this is a good thing, the more people who go to the shows, the better it is for the industry.

I anxiously waited for my turn to get patted down by security, ID'd for alcohol, and list confirmation so that I could get inside and join the ever growing crowd, while hoping that there would be a decent place left from which to watch the show. When I finally did make it inside, I found I had missed Sub-Zero, and Catalepsy was in their final cuts. Oh well, these things happen, fortunately there was a lot of music still to come.

I did get to see those final few Catalepsy tracks and they were pretty good. I did not hear enough to make any type of final decision, but they did bring a good deal of energy and the kids in the pit seemed to respond to them positively. The Florida based six-piece death-core act performed some crushing riffs that could potentially get into your head and beat you up for awhile, but still, only a couple of songs is hard to judge a performance on. I would not be against seeing them again.

At this point, it would have been relatively easy to make my way over to The Loft, but I made the decision to fight it out where I was. As it is, I was jockeying for position most of the night. I made the right decision as it did not take long for The Chance to fill up, I never would have made it back to this almost ideal location.

Next up was War of Ages is a band that I was definitely interested in seeing, even Thought I had no personal experience with them. I was interested because a friend has mentioned them to me a few times, telling me he liked their sound and was interested in seeing them live. The Christian metal-core act from Pennsylvania began their set with a pre-performance prayer, at least that is what I believe they were doing. Of course, I did not know they were Christian until about mid-way through their set. These guys were good, bringing together their metal and hardcore influences in a brand of music that is brutal with a healthy dose of technical expertise. Now I know why my friend was so keen on them. The crowd ate it up too, even when they spoke of their belief in Jesus Christ, which surprised me as Christianity does not generally equate with hardcore music. I guess I should not be surprised, I am happy to see Christian acts crossing over to a wider audience, especially when the band puts on the display that War of Ages does.

The curtain came down again as the stage was reset for Soilent Green, an extreme metal act hailing from New Orleans, Louisiana. Despite the band having existed for well over a decade, this was my first experience with them. I wish I had seen them sooner, as they were quite impressive, the kids in the pit seemed to agree. The band played with a high level of ferocity, matching the quartet's music. While the music was definitely brutal, it was some other elements in the music that really made them stand out for me. There were distinct overtones of the blues and jazz injected in the metal. The sound is unique and sounds like New Orleans, not that I really know what New Orleans sounds like, but this is what comes to mind.

By now, the crowd was really beginning to pack in, there was little room to move in and the temperature was beginning to rise. Why? We were getting closer to the appearance of Hatebreed, of course. However, before we could get to them, we had to make our way through Emmure.

No sooner did Emmure hit the stage that all hell broke loose. The crowd exploded, bodies flying everywhere, security diving in to break up little fights and drag out bloodied and dehydrated kids. It was like a never ending stream of teens being pulled out of harm's way. I cannot say this was unexpected. If you know Emmure, you know their music. They are all breakdowns, all the time, and while I do not find it to be particularly good music, there is no denying the affect of their music. Emmure's brutality is easy to get into, you want to bang your head? This is the music you wan o listen to. Of course, I never new what he was saying, I suspect he was just screaming nonsense (I know someone will take issue with this, but there is no way to discern words from his delivery). This is a band that knows what it wants to do and goes directly for the throat. Emmure is all about the live show, deliver big, heavy breakdowns and watch the kids go nuts. I'm cool with that.

As we get deeper into the night, the kids in the pit kept getting sweatier and more closely packed, not to mention the bloody noses, the bruises, and the broken cell phones. Despite all of this, there was a never say die attitude that swept through them. They were not about to leave until there was not an ounce of energy left in them. The upcoming Hatebreed set was sure to sap them of any reserves left in the tank.

Following a needlessly lengthy delay between Emmure and Hatebreed, which only served to get the riled up crowd closer to the boiling point, the band hit the stage with the expected ferocity from a band with their pedigree. Celebrating the release of their Live Dominance DVD, the band seemed dead set on delivering the best show they could for a crowd filled with friends and family. The Chance just happens to be one of Hatebreed's original stomping grounds, a fact not lost on frontman Jamey Jasta. This is, after all, drummer Matt Byrne's hometown.

They kicked things off with "A Call for Blood," an appropriate set starter to win over the crowd, as if that was needed. The kids in the pit nearly boiled over as Jamey led the five-piece through an aggressive set that included sing along signatures such as "Never Let it Die," "Destroy Everything," and "Defeatist."

Hatebreed is a band that no matter what they do, they put their heart and soul into it. It would not matter if the show was a sellout (this one nearly was) or if there were two people there, they would put it all out there on the stage. They do not take their fans for granted, to that end they were filled with a drive and an energy that is unparalleled.

If there was one problem with their set, it had nothing to do with their flawless performance. The problem is technical in nature, it sounded like a there was a wire with a bad ground somewhere in the circuit that added some crackly distortion into the mix. It was not much of an issue when the band was going full bore, but when you just heard Jamey, or just one of the guitars, it became very apparent that something was off. I am surprised that no one was trying to fix it, that I could see anyway.

In the end, Hatebreed is a band you have to experience. If you are a fan of heavy music, not just hardcore, you will find a lot to appreciate in this lot.

Set List (may not be quite accurate):
A Call For Blood
Conceived Through an Act of Violence
Tear it Down
Never Let it Die
Facing What Consumes You
Smash Your Enemies
Destroy Everything
The Most Truth
To The Threshold
This is Now
Live for This
I Will Be Heard


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