Monday, June 28, 2010

With Honor Reunion Show

With Honor, Hostage Calm, Ambitions, Nation of Thieves, Tabernackle
Wallingford Hungarian Club – June 26th 2010
Photos by Jon Contois (blame Mark Nussbaum for spelling error)

I have been shaken to the “core” lately whenever I think about the Connecticut hardcore scene; there are just a lot of things about it that really upset me. I remember one of the first shows I went to in Connecticut, I nearly got my face smashed in just by standing up front singing along to one of my favorite songs. I believe that hardcore punk has the potential to make positive changes in the lives of the people who frequent shows, who will then go on to make positive changes outside of the show, but Connecticut seems to be the anomaly to this, the exception. However, it goes without saying that there are plenty of hardworking bands from Connecticut that will agree that the macho-tough guy mentality is indeed totally bogus, and unfortunately, that band is broken up (but reunited, again).

With Honor’s third return to Connecticut was no doubt a high-energy stellar performance, but the show lacked a climax, it lacked that special something that makes reunions really stand out. Maybe it’s the fact that this is their third reunion in two years. Regardless, the Wallingford Hungarian Club was revived with the proud Connecticut Youth (and some not so youthful).

Tabernackle from Providence, Rhode Island was up first. Being the opening band on a hardcore show is just as difficult as solving a Rubik’s cube to me. Trying to figure out the crowd and motivate them to move, or even express any interest in your band can really just be too much to bear. However, they pressed on through their set, playing re-inspired 90’s hardcore for fans of Snapcase. The Connecticut crowd doesn’t take kindly to out of towners, and much to Tabernackle’s disapproval, they continued the tradition of the horseshoe effect. Tabernackle didn't receive so much as a head nod from the audience. I found it easy to listen to front man Tom Zannini’s vocal styling’s as they reminded me of Ray Cappo’s pissed yelps, but I think that it went over a lot of people’s heads. Their set unfortunately dragged on until they broke out into a revamped version of the straight edge classic by Project x “Straight Edge Revenge” and a few members of the crowd began to pile on when Tom jumped onto the floor to reach the audience.

Originally scheduled to play was Reignition, but their van broke down in Philadelphia. Taking their place was Nation of Thieves, a Connecticut local band I had yet to hear. When they started out their set, I was very psyched to hear a slightly atonal riff lead into their first song of their set, and I began to get excited to hear a band that maybe was going to impress me with a little deviance from the “norm.” Their presence certainly reminded me a lot of some of the greatest youth crew bands from the late 80’s and early 90’s but what lies underneath their image are layers that I can only feel safe describing as “new school.” I sense they take their influences from many different aspects of rock n roll, and while this band was also unable to motivate any movement from the crowd, I would not be surprised to see this band successful in other places of the globe. As if the crowd weren’t even there, they fought through the cutting glares of the un-dazzled crowd and gave it their all. I recommend this band to anyone who likes bands like Verse and Modern Life is War.

Ambitions took the stage next. They played Welcome to Connecticut, and within moments the crowd had exploded into a frenzy of kids stage diving, kids moshing, and kids unsure what to do first: mosh or dive? The reaction was very positive for Ambitions, playing their first set in Connecticut since their break up in 2008, hoping to create a spark as they prepare to release a posthumous 7”. It’s sets like theirs that make me wonder, why even break up in the first place? A band doesn’t need to command a crowd, or even ask for anything from them, in Connecticut they just go (GO!) as if Ambitions had never lost steam. You wouldn’t even be able to notice as they jumped around their discography of EP’s and their latest full length “Stranger”. The crowd piled on and sang along. The crew was strong. The youth was proud.

Local favorites Hostage Calm were up next, playing their first Wallingford show in quite sometime. Without even saying a word, the room erupted upon the first chord, and after their introduction, went right into their first song of the night “Audible,” a song that does it all. Kids completely lost their minds, stage diving left and right, climbing over people’s skull’s just to get a piece of the microphone, a mile wide circle pit and plenty of “woah’s” and finger-pointing, all within a very short period of time. I began to see some mosh pit violence, an occurrence I know Hostage Calm as a band is very much opposed to, and it just baffles me that regardless how outspoken they are about it as a band, why people continue to act like total assholes. Chris Martin’s melodies are some of the best I’ve heard from any punk band, and the back ups by bassist Tim Casey really add to it, or from what I could hear through the muddled PA system and crew vocals. A very passionate performance while being technically on point throughout their whole set. Hostage Calm ripped through several songs on their soon to be released self-titled full length record that differ a lot from their relatively cookie-cutter melodic hardcore. Their newest songs are far more melody and less hard, but that they don’t lack substance. Alan from My Heart To Joy was playing auxiliary percussion from the corner of the stage through a new dance song they have and the entire crowd was just bobbing up and down to the beat. It was so refreshing to be witness to this, as if maybe there’s some hope that Hostage Calm might be able to inspire a change in the attitude at shows they play in Connecticut.

Oh, and there were several boogie board stage dives brought to you by Sean Bee. Please stop in to Redscroll Records and thank him for that.

With Honor gathered a crowd in front of the stage even minutes before they played. Mostly old friends crammed up against the stage to see With Honor for one more time, and to be right up front to witness it all. As soon as they started, it was a free for all of stage diving, pile ons, and lots of pool toys. Happy summer! The crowd from the floor, drowning out Todd Mackey’s voice, echoed every word of every song. In between the gang vocals were perfectly delivered notes and yells however, and they tore through a large sampling of their discography. Without stopping even for a moment, they kept the energy flowing and lots of positive vibes moving throughout the room. Their performance was super tight, it was awesome to see a band I had seen many, many years ago on a different coast be completely and wholly appreciated in their home state. Some of the stories my friends tell me about seeing With Honor are really inspirational and very special. Tonight wasn’t special to me, and I felt like it wasn’t special to a lot of people in the room, that it was just “another Connecticut Hardcore show.” I know deep down inside that it was far more than that to the band and I’m sure many people were touched that With Honor played again, but tonight proved to me that With Honor has more steam now than they have in the past. I feel like the show happened as if With Honor had never called it quits, but picked up right where they left off. I would like to see With Honor continue on not so that there’s another solid Connecticut band again, but so that way there will be a solid band promoting something positive, and to influence a change in the participants of hardcore music for more than just a single evening.


Anonymous said...

Hardcore is inherently a violent music. No one likes getting punched in the face, but it comes with the territory and you need to take your lumps. The reason I was initially attracted to hardcore and what has kept me going to shows consistently for 15 years was that it was so unlike other forms of music. It's diversity is what makes it so unique. And as silly as it sounds as a whole It's violent but also intelligent.

JD said...

Great review