Janky Smooth
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L.A.’s Best Festival is Sound and Fury (imo). Here’s Why:

Ceremony
FEATURED IMAGE: ALBERT LICANO

There are many qualities that make Sound and Fury Los Angeles’ best festival. I will try to touch upon them all in this article and also review every band that played the festival and after shows. You will want to attend the festival after reading this and not because I’m novelizing the experience but rather, what actually takes place at Sound and Fury is so uniquely incredible that the only reason a fan of heavy music wouldn’t want to attend is because they don’t know the festival exists.

Rotting Out

Rotting Out

So, consider this your introduction: Sound and Fury is a hardcore music festival that began in 2006 in Ventura, California. Hosting legendary sets by underground hardcore artists whether they be in warehouses or the back of a U-haul like for Trash Talk in 2009, the festival’s momentum kept growing and growing until moving to the Regent Theater in 2016 and 2017. In 2018, the festival had expanded to the point that it could upgrade to the Belasco Theater.

related content: The Most Complete Sound And Fury 2017 Review On Earth

Gathering bands from all around North America (and one from Finland) to perform on two stages in the Belasco or at various after shows around the city, this year’s Sound and Fury was set to be the biggest in its history and so to mark this occasion, Ceremony, one of the festival’s darling performers, was set to close out the weekend. Ceremony is the ultimate Sound and Fury band, and probably the ultimate West Coast hardcore band in general, at this point. Finally getting to see them close out a Sound and Fury after working their way up the lineup for so long, felt cathartic for everyone that’s followed the festival over the years. It was a symbol of Sound and Fury’s own progress, their “looks like we made it after all” moment, from humble beginnings to selling out the Belasco.

Ceremony

Ceremony

Ceremony

Ceremony

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For any die-hard fan of hardcore music in Los Angeles, this festival is the landmark event of the summer. Even for me, as a metalhead first, a punk second, and a hardcore kid third, I anticipate this weekend more than any other musical experience scheduled throughout the year… more than Neil Young playing Arroyo Seco or Devo reuniting at Burger Boogaloo or The Stray Cats and Jerry Lee Lewis playing Viva Las Vegas. The music at S&F is great but it’s the unique camaraderie between fans and artists that makes missing it out of the question for me.

Dead Heat

Dead Heat

The crowd at Sound and Fury is insane. They make the metalhead in me cower in fear and envy of their guts. Seeing how some people can turn themselves into human wrecking balls, stage diving with no remorse, is awe-inspiring. After examining the crowd closely, the single word that comes to my mind is “Conviction”. You have to speak and move your body with conviction to get the most out of this festival and scene. You can be passive and end up getting kicked in the face or you can have conviction and sing into the microphone with your favorite vocalist then soar over people’s heads, back into the crowd.

Rotting Out

Crowd during Rotting Out

Sound and Fury is simultaneously a convention and a show. The venue is packed to the brim with vendors and bands you can hang with. And everyone feeds off each other, like in a family. After participating in this scene enough, you develop this desire to contribute because helping this music thrive gives you a deep sense of purpose. No other scene does this quite as effectively. The metalheads and the punks aren’t as tightly knit together. If you’re new to hardcore, fear not, if you’re honest and love the music, you will be welcomed with open arms.

Rotting Out

Crowd during Rotting Out

The night before the festival, the Ace Hotel hosted a pre-party where there was a memorial to Chris Avis, a videographer that tragically died in a car accident in July of 2017. Chris wasn’t just mourned by the festival’s organizers, artists, and the media people though; Chris was mourned by the fans and if you asked people about him, the festival attendants would only have nice things to say.

Having moved to the Belasco, it’s as if us misfits had taken over a palace. Here we are, all dressed like psychos, getting to live it up in one of the most regal and beautiful venues in Los Angeles. Sound and Fury is the one weekend where hardcore kids are treated like kings. And though the decorations were beautiful, it was the pro-sound that really made the Belasco seem like the perfect fit for Sound and Fury. The drums had such a powerful, bold, and live in the moment feel, that musically, it was a festival in a class of its own.

Day 1

I arrived as early as I could. I wanted to see how Sound and Fury utilized every corner of the Belasco. Whether it was the food from Kronnenburger or the photo booth, or the main merch table which I shot to right away to buy a Sound and Fury 2018 shirt then a Rotting Out shirt.

When the velvet rope was finally lifted and those in general admission were let in, not a moment was hesitated to cause havoc during the first set of the day by Southern California’s Initiate. Hardcore has this incredible ability to manifest your “psychic” self on a stage and Initiate’s lead singer, a skinny Asian woman, transformed into a wolverine . Her screams had a certain dire quality to them, perfect for any call to action. Their guitars were crunchy and really revved the crowd up. The drumming was thunderous yet groovy. What I can tell from this band, without needing to be familiar with their music, is that they have a lot to say.

A quick note: Lots of rock festivals get flack for a lack of diversity in their lineups but this is a problem Sound and Fury simply does not have. Diversity is not only present but totally unspoken of.  We don’t need to talk about it. We’re past that. We’re just here to have a good time with our brothers and sisters. Every culture has something positive to contribute to hardcore.

I was blown away by the next band: Teenage Wrist. Their debut full-length Chrome Neon Jesus was released by Epitaph and after seeing them live, I understand how their career could’ve hit the ground running so hard. Guitarist, Marshall Gallagher’s right hand slashes frantically against his strings, quick enough to bleed and not care. The singer and bassist, Kamtim Mohager, moves loosely but with total control. He sings with both harsh aggression and mellow melody. Musically, they’re loud like My Bloody Valentine but harness a more straight forward melodic structure like Smashing Pumpkins. Mixing shoe-gaze, goth, alt-rock, and emo, Teenage Wrist was the perfect post-punk for Sound and Fury, the kind of music that would capture any hardcore fan that also loves the Smiths. The fact that a band this good was playing second gave me incredibly high hopes for what was to come.

I walked up to the second floor of the Belasco to check out Spine playing in the “Intimate Room”. Just the fact that another stage with such a different vibe from the main stage exists in the Belasco blew my mind. It’s like a cross between a nice, regal setting and a high school gym. This place would in fact hold some of the best performances of the weekend. Spine includes ex-members of Weekend Nachos and Sorry Excuse. Hailing from Chicago and Kansas City, the band members bridge that regional gap with one thing in common: the ability to create straightup-beatdown powerviolence and hardcore. The singing, guitars, and drums hit you like a combo of punches to the chin and their singer was one of the few dudes present that I’d draft to a team to have my back in a brawl.

One of my favorite bands of the entire festival was next on the main stage and that was Division of Mind. The crowd’s reaction to this band was so unhinged, like the music, that for the rest of the day no one could touch the bar they had set. Hailing from Richmond, Virginia, Division of Mind are a cerebral and vicious sounding hardcore juggernaut. Visually, the band members look like they’ve got fucked up imaginations and that’s exactly how the songs sound too. Inviting themselves to the violence in the crowd, I couldn’t believe any festival was able to pull off this much energy so early in the day.

Mil-Spec plays an incredibly powerful, dissident, and confrontational breed of hardcore. Hailing from Canada, these guys have that Canadian-ness that all artists from the country seem to share. The same way Rush or Propagandhi have that unmistakable Canadian feel. That’s not to detract from how awesome they are though. Their lyrics are smart, their riffs are cool, they’ve got plenty of groove and their music invigorates your feet to move and head to bang. Definitely a stand out band.

Mil-Spec

Mil-Spec

Mil-Spec

Mil-Spec

Oxnard’s Dead Heat is a staple of Southern California hardcore. If you haven’t seen them before, you probably haven’t been around. They always kill it with some of the most raw, energetic shows you can see. The singer often joins us in going ape-shit, stage diving like an arcing bullet. They completely tore up the packed Intimate Room and by the end of the set, all I could think about was how much money in property damage we racked up. Dead Heat’s sound is a brilliant crossover, with the fast-street stylings of punk and thrash but the slam and bounce hardcore kids need to get down.

Dead Heat

Dead Heat

Dead Heat

Dead Heat

Dead Heat

Dead Heat

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Oso Oso was next and delivered a different flavor of music for the day. I can’t say I loved it, sometimes Sound and Fury veers too deeply into Warped Tour/Emo-gaze territory for my taste. It’s for the sake of the younger section, I figure. Maybe I’d enjoy it more if I didn’t come single but with my metallic sensibilities, I couldn’t get into it. What the music did give me was further exposure to shoe-gaze’s impact on current alternative rock; where stretching a note into noise is the go-to method to achieve a sense of depth, mellowness, or romance.

Oso Oso

Oso Oso

Oso Oso

Oso Oso

Gouge Away was fucking brutal and I’m not talking about the Pixies jam. No, I’m talking about Florida’s chaotic hardcore outfit. So much nuance exists in their sound, they can play the hardest sounding soft music you’ve ever heard in your life. Making desperate cries that really give you a sense of the pain they grapple with, Gouge Away had the audience in the palm of their hand. Singer, Christina Michelle, connected with women on a personal level and inspired the men with a raw and unfiltered outpouring of attitude. The more you listen to Gouge Away, the more depth you discover.

Gouge Away

Gouge Away

Gouge Away

Gouge Away

Rushing back up to the Intimate Room, I had to catch Creatures, the California crossover hardcore-thrash band. There was much anticipation in the air for this band which hadn’t been active for awhile. Right back in action, they played like they hadn’t lost a step with breakdowns and screams that gave the younger bands an example they could all learn from. 

Creatures

Creatures

Creatures

Creatures

Abuse of Power was the first band of the day to really capture the scene as a whole. It was like watching a younger Ceremony. The people were behind this band. Personally, I didn’t find myself vibing with them too hard but the audience begged to differ with my tastes. One of the couple bands off Triple B records that would perform, Abuse of Power’s music harnesses true hardcore attitude. Their songs are structured to get you angrier and angrier, from headbang to stage dive, as the song upheaves into a magnificent hardcore climax. The kids live for moments like those.

Abuse of Power

Abuse of Power

Abuse of Power

Abuse of Power

Abuse of Power

Abuse of Power

Finland’s Foreseen was next and brought the most metal element to the day’s music. With their singer empowered by his Bathory shirt, they were able to summon devils out of the crowd. Their riffs were fast and their drums were pummeling, they almost had a Celtic Frost feel. Splashing in a bit of metal between hardcore bands changes things up in a refreshing way. It’s cool to see some of the kids alternate from slam dancing to a circle pit. Foreseen’s set goes to show that if it’s fast and heavy, we’ll get together and dig it.

Foreseen

Foreseen

Queen of Jeans was the furthest departure from hardcore of the bands that would play the festival. They were a refreshing break after Foreseen’s onslaught and offered a reflective sound that many of us craved after shooting straight hardcore all day. I ended up meeting up with a lot of old friends during this set, just finding them in the crowd, and realized the band was the best soundtrack for that. Seeing people you know and love and falling right back into hanging out like not a day had passed. Their music is cathartic, sweet, and will summon a smile on your face without you having to think about it. They could become something amazing in time, like a new Sleater-Kinney.

Queen of Jeans

Queen of Jeans

Ecostrike is amazing. South Florida’s own straight edge icons in the making, I can see what the future holds for this band and not only do they become great but they inspire greatness in others. Ecostrike proves that straight edge bands have more anger and dissidence in them than the rest of us. Their agenda and goal drives them to go harder when they perform. In songs like “Shadows Flee From Fire” the message can be heard loud and clear, we can’t wait until tomorrow, we have to make the choice to improve ourselves and the world NOW. At one point of Ecostrike’s set, I noticed a girl at the front of the crowd with her face covered in blood. She didn’t have any intention of leaving that place though, not until the set was over. Afterward, she got medical attention and seemed totally chill during the ordeal. These are the kinds of personalities that become Ecostrike fans, the resilient ones.

Ecostrike

Ecostrike

Ecostrike

Crowd during Ecostrike

Bracewar teased the intro to Biohazard’s “Punishment” and I swear to God, I almost shit my pants with excitement. Just the thought that I might hear that song drove me up a wall; and even though I only got the intro voiceover and guitar riff, the energy carried over into Bracewar’s set. Bracewar is a landmark Sound and Fury band, they should play every year from here till the end. We want to see what they’ll pull out of their sleeves every time they perform. The audience knows all their songs and gives them all the love and respect in the world.

Bracewar

Bracewar

Bracewar

Bracewar

Bracewar

Bracewar

Albany, New York’s Drug Church was one of my favorite bands of Day 1. Hardcore inspired alternative rock like what these guys play is something fresh in the grand scheme of music. After all, there is no Nirvana without Black Flag. Nothing seems to get people happier and partying harder than this particular kind of sound. With one guitar playing a filtered, lush sound and another slapping down the heavy riffs, you’re torn in two directions in the most pleasant way. Keeping you together is Patrick Kindlon’s powerful voice and stage presence.

Drug Church

Drug Church

Drug Church

Drug Church

I was ecstatic to see New York’s Backtrack after having missed their tour earlier in the year. These guys were non-stop energy. It was like a lightning storm ran through the Belasco because the crowd and band were all over that stage, raining down pure mayhem. Backtrack’s music really makes you feel like you’re in a desperate moment when action is required, either fight or die, and you’ll be damned if you don’t fucking fight. James Vitalo vigorously jumped and scrambled with impressive hardcore agility. Everyone got involved in this set, either by singing along or moshing.

Backtrack

Backtrack

Backtrack

Backtrack

Backtrack

Backtrack

Citizen was perfectly scheduled to play right before the return of Rotting Out. This band makes a very special and penetrating kind of emo that stirs your heart no matter how hard and guarded you think you are. The audience might have anticipated this band more than any, certainly some people out there came for Citizen. And you could tell because when thrust into the Sound and Fury environment, Citizen couldn’t have expected their fans would grab at Mat Kerekes and his microphone until he could barely sing. It was our mic just as much as his, we were singing along with more passion than any one person could have. Hearing songs like “In the Middle of it All” were incredibly powerful as Mat would punch his sampler every time he wanted the background vocal to repeat. Citizen’s set fulfilled everyone’s need for a soft and touching Sound and Fury moment and with that out of the way, it was time for one of the most furious Sound and Fury sets I have ever witnessed.

Citizen

Citizen

Citizen

Citizen

Citizen

Citizen

Rotting Out called it quits in 2015 and their powerhouse singer Walter Delgado wasn’t sure if there was any point in ever continuing the band. He asked himself if they had done everything they set out to do. Walter told us a story during that I found rather poignant. It was about a time when their tour van broke down in the middle of nowhere and Walter had to walk to the nearest gas station. On that walk he had time to reflect. Perhaps their van breaking down was symbolic of something greater. Was the band broken too? Walter then saw the gas station and realized, no… they just needed some fuel.

Rotting Out

Rotting Out

And so, here we are at Sound and Fury 2018 with Rotting Out set to headline day 1 in their return to the open arms of our hardcore family. The band was missed so terribly that without an especially violent and extreme show of affection, we might not have gotten the message across of exactly how much we love their music. Immediately, people were spilling on the stage, jumping all over Walter as he rushed the crowd, showing just as much force back at us.

Rotting Out

Rotting Out

Some people are born to be hardcore singers, such is the case for Walter Delgado. Walter addressed the current political catastrophe rather bluntly: “First thing’s first, fuck ICE”. He took a very human perspective, saying fuck these people for thinking they have the moral high-ground to tear an innocent baby from their mother. He went on to acknowledge that every member of Rotting Out is a minority. That’s part of the reason why they’re so beloved actually, one can feel the chicano-American experience in their music and lyrics. The Chicano experience in America embodies the same values as hardcore.

Rotting Out

Rotting Out

Songs like “S.B.T.S.”, “Street Prowl”, “Goddamn” and their closer, “Laugh Now, Die Later” carried so much gravitas that one couldn’t help but move and go crazy. We truly felt that somehow, the harder we slammed, the more we could change the world. Maybe those bruises would remind us to resist when we woke up the next day.

Rotting Out

Rotting Out

Top 5 bands of day 1 beside the headliner:

  1. Drug Church
  2. Division of Mind
  3. Ecostrike
  4. Citizen
  5. Teenage Wrist

Hi Hat After Show

If you’re doing Sound and Fury right, you’re not heading home after the headliners are through, you’re speeding off to some distant corner of the city to catch a few bands rip apart one of the after shows. Anything can happen at these after shows, bands playing with special guests, surprise performers, artists slamming beside you, anything and everything.

Friday’s after show took place at the Hi Hat and had four bands playing, the first two being the one’s I was most excited to see: Blazing Eye and Destruction Unit. Witnessing hardcore kids get completely blown away by the garage noise rock of Destruction Unit never fails to make me smile. The band is so loud and excessive that they fit on any metal, hardcore, or grindcore bill. They sound like a trash compacter on LSD crushing bones. You could stand in front of a speaker at Sound and Fury all day and receive less hearing loss than standing at the back of the venue for a fifteen minute Destruction Unit set.

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D-Unit went on second, the first band of the night was Blazing Eye, one of Los Angeles’ most respected punk bands. Sound and Fury wouldn’t feel right without some involvement by Blazing Eye guitarist Sam Bosson, who was ripping during this set. Then their singer, Austin Delgadillo, showed his aggressive and uncompromising stage presence as he kicked and thrashed about the stage in between his grizzly gutter punk vocals.

Though Cold World and War Hungry were playing next, I found myself too burnt out to keep the night going. I decided to bounce and catch those two bands the next day during the main festival.

Day 2

Southern California’s own straight edge underdogs Dare opened up day 2 of the fest. The band’s been getting a decent amount of hype but beyond wanting to see them perform, I wanted to see their drummer, Anaiah Lei in action. If you go to hardcore shows in L.A., you’ve seen Anaiah slamming and diving the hardest in every crowd. He’s got moves to be on the cover of live albums, that hardcore photographers can get in art galleries, he’s a true student of the game. The band themselves were awesome and heavy, proving once again that the straight edge frame of mind leads to more aggressive and brutal music. It’s about focused energy and passion.

Dare

Dare

Dare

Dare

Dare

Dare

Dare

Dare

Spiritual Cramp impressed me once before. I saw them open for American Nightmare earlier in the year and hadn’t seen any young band with energy that could compare to these San Franciscans. With songs that coast through hardcore, post punk, and even dub, the band achieves a mutant party spectacle that resurrects every one of your appendages from the dead. You want to get wet, you want people to get naked, and you want there to be blood at Spiritual Cramp shows. All bets are off. I love music like that, brutal and aggressive, yet you can pop champagne bottles and hurl confetti to it. Michael Bingham goes absolutely off the wall, his body spazzing out with randomness and controlled rhythm at the same time, he’s living jazz, sweating punk, and fucking stages up. Another character I like in the band is their tambourine player. Sparing no expense to have more energy on stage, this is the band’s secret weapon/hype man of sorts. A hype man in post punk? I don’t think I’ve ever heard a more brilliant idea. Check out Spiritual Cramp if you’re into bands like The Clash, The Chameleons, Oingo Boingo, and The Specials… you hear Spiritual Cramp and think perhaps the Tenderloin was the Ghost Town that The Specials were singing about. It’s ectoplasmic dub, party goth, hangman’s hardcore. If this band keeps doing what they’re doing, I don’t see anyway they aren’t going to be headlining festivals someday. I’m just happy I got in on the party now, so I could say I was at those early Spiritual Cramp shows.

Spiritual Cramp

Spiritual Cramp

Spiritual Cramp

Spiritual Cramp

Spiritual Cramp

Spiritual Cramp

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Nosebleed was next on the main stage, delivering an especially deranged sort of hardcore assault. This set not only provided another example of women singing dangerously but also of Virginians being insane. Something must be in the water in Richmond. This music, with its crashing drums, dirty guitars, and quick vocal delivery, is what slam dancing was invented for.

Nosebleed

Nosebleed

Nosebleed

Nosebleed

Nosebleed

Nosebleed

BIB was one of the more interesting bands I was exposed to this weekend. It’s groovy hardcore with minimalist vocals that for whatever reason have the ability to instantly drive kids insane. Hailing from Omaha, Nebraska and being a part of the POPWIG family, I expected something different. The guitars are noisier, sloppier, and more sonic than your usual hardcore band and this fills you with an urge to slam more chaotically than you would otherwise. Like suddenly, because this music is in the air, it’s okay to be more self-destructive. BIB suspends your disbelief, suddenly you’re in your own hardcore music video and the spotlight’s on you to thrash. With ambient vocals that echo and melt into the noise, BIB is a hardcore roller coaster. BIB is the CAN of hardcore.

BIB

BIB

BIB

BIB

Candy‘s set was much hyped and anticipated and it definitely lived up to all that and more as one of the most maniacal and aggressive displays of power we’d see over the weekend. It was like watching a pack of rabid dogs get taken off their chains and sic’ed on an audience. Candy’s music is somehow able to sustain the proper hardcore structure while going completely overboard in their intensity and aggression.

Candy

Candy

Candy

Candy

Candy

Candy

Detain represents that classic new millennium hardcore tradition to me. The true jock beatdown sound that is essential to Sound and Fury. If a certain percentage of bands on the bill ain’t playing that shit then it ain’t what it’s supposed to be. Detain were able to bring that slow, chugging fury and we bounced with them every step of the way, decimating the Belasco stage. Hardcore from Michigan just screams out “Nah, you ain’t gonna fuck with me“.

Detain

Detain

Playing his second set of the day, this time on the bass, Anaiah from Dare played with Ingrown, a straight edge power violence trio from Boise, Idaho. Their sound was soooo dirty, just my kind of music. We were all crushed and disoriented by the brutality of the music, so much so that a good description escapes me when I try to remember it. I just feel the pain and masochistically want to go back.

Ingrown

Ingrown

Ingrown

Ingrown

Ingrown

Ingrown

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As a metalhead, I love seeing Sound and Fury rep metal. Last year they had Gatecreeper play and then before that got Taake and Young and In The Way to play an after show. Red Death, a thrash band fresh off a tour with Power Trip, didn’t exactly do it for me though. It felt uninspired, there was fierceness there but I didn’t hear the substance behind it. The crowd dug it though, it was a good change of pace.

Red Death

Red Death

Red Death

Red Death

Back to that jock beatdown style of hardcore, Trail of Lies left a trail of bodies behind after their set. The sound was the thunder and the crowd spat back lightning, going off just as hard as the band. If this band were to represent the totality of New York straight edge then they would paint a powerful, visceral, and intimidating picture. To hardcore purists, I would bet this band was one of the highlights of the entire festival.

Trail of Lies

Trail of Lies

Trail of Lies

Trail of Lies

Trail of Lies

Trail of Lies

Diztort was up to bat upstairs in the Intimate Room and this had to be one of the more eclectic bands on the lineup with arrangements that were simply different from anyone else on the bill or in the scene in general. Balancing breakdowns with headbanging riffs and finger-play on the guitar then layering a toughened, dissident vocal on top (dude has a sawed-off shotgun in his throat), you get a sound powerful enough to draw in every head from the main stage to cram into one small room.

Diztort

Diztort

Take note if you’re punk rock: Anytime Sabertooth Zombie is playing a show, buy a ticket. They were so raw that they made being a punk frontman feel like a lost but rediscovered art form. Harkening back madmen like Darby Crash, Cody, the band’s lead singer, pulls every eyeball out its socket to focus on nothing but him as he strips down to his trousers and starts jumping around the stage like an angry bull frog. Sooner or later, drawing blood is inevitable at shows this intense. He gets in the crowd and bashes the microphone against his head till the red starts gushing out and fueling the performance even more. And the music, though awesome, is partly just there to fuel his fire as the rest of the band stands back to let this sabertooth punk have the spotlight. It was a beautiful sight to behold, one that if you don’t get the chance to witness then you’ve missed something vital in the current state of punk.

Sabertooth Zombie

Sabertooth Zombie

Sabertooth Zombie

Sabertooth Zombie

War Hungry was another metal band with absolutely killer guitars and vocals. I love what they do with distortion, their music feels like being steamrolled by a Mike Tyson haymaker punch, and I also love that they were introduced by a Dead Can Dance song. Between that and Bracewar opening with a Biohazard riff, those two things made my heart flutter with delight. Like the name suggests, War Hungry is great music to go to war to.

War Hungry

War Hungry

War Hungry

War Hungry

War Hungry

War Hungry

Day by Day was another band representing Florida with that heavy hardcore bounce sound that tore up the Intimate Room and got everybody off their feet and going crazy. This was one of the most energetic and kinetic acts of the festival. Something about the sound inspires movement, you want to start ricocheting off the walls and into people when you hear it.

Day by Day

Day by Day

Day by Day

Day by Day

Day by Day

Day by Day

The last time I saw Freedom was opening for Nails at the Roxy a few years ago and back then I was blown away by their attitude and coarse delivery. Detroit breeds the most brutal rock and roll and in both performance and sound, you can tell these guys have been through some shit and overcome it. This is music to fight the system, to get sickened by the system to, this is the hardcore skinhead battle cry of the working class. I feel like everybody was tougher at the end of the band’s set than they were at the beginning. Freedom’s music makes you stronger. If ever there was a band to carry Negative Approach’s torch… it would be Freedom.

Freedom

Freedom

Freedom

Freedom

Speaking of which, Negative Approach was next. The veteran band of the lineup. I made sure to wear my neon-highlighter green Tied Down T-shirt to pay my respects. I’ll pretty much be present anytime they come to L.A., they’re one of my favorite bands of all time, with Tied Down being on my top ten favorite albums ever. The moment I saw that they were going to play Sound and Fury, my imagination went wild with all the chaos we’d incite to the music. The reality didn’t exactly meet my expectations though. We went crazy alright, so crazy that as soon as the opening riff of “Ready to Fight” was played, we dog-piled John Brannon and bassist Ron Sakowski. Ron wasn’t having our shit though, as soon as he hit the ground, his fists went flying into anyone near him. Shouting every kind of obscenity, Ron got up, flipped us all off, and soldiered forward onto the next song. The band played all the classics except Evacuate, which they would save for Sunday’s show, songs like “Nothing”, “Tied Down”, and “Dead Stop” which I’d hear other bands cover at previous Sound and Fury’s.

Negative Approach

Negative Approach

Negative Approach

Negative Approach

Negative Approach

Negative Approach

Negative Approach

Negative Approach

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The way that Ceremony is a Sound and Fury staple band, Orange County’s Fury is as well. This was their third year playing the festival in a row and each time they’ve climbed higher up the lineup. Last year’s performance was remarkable and electric, I remember standing at the side of the stage in awe of the energy the band captured. Their album Paramount has a few songs that are undeniable, they simply grab you and don’t let go until they’re over. Songs like “Damage Done”, “In Extremis”, “Thin Line”, “Death Yellows Life And Reason”, and their usual closer “The Feeling” which I hear and see the potential for this band to be as big as, I dunno, Refused. That’s pretty much the peak for a hardcore band in the mainstream, ain’t it?

Fury

Fury

Their performance on this night was just as ferocious and cool as they always. Propping up a cardboard version of Ronnie The Limo Driver (from the Howard Stern show) on their amp before beginning their set, then going into their first song with Howard’s signature intro of “Heyyy Nowww…“, it would seem one member of the band must be a Sirius subscriber, which is of course a great call if you’re on tour. Both guitarists in the band absolutely shred, one of which has mastered the Pete Townsend jumping splits.

Lastly, on Fury, I think the band’s style and visual aesthetics are cool and original. Their shirt for the festival wasn’t some violent shit, it featured a soccer ball and map of the world. Then you see their singer, Jeremy, who doesn’t look like a hardcore singer right off the bat, which is in fact, the best kind of hardcore singer.

Fury

Fury

Fury

Fury

Cold World made so much money from merch it was insane. They had all these different kinds of shirts and every design on them was original and sick. The whole night there was a line stretching from the table to the fucking stage until every damn one sold out. This fact was almost as impressive as their dynamite set. It’s always nice to see that true, straight forward kind of hardcore take a top slot at the festival. Though, there are definitely nuances in Cold World’s sound that makes them different from all other bands with that style. Their dynamic use of sampling contributes to this image that surrounds the band as being real gangsta, rap culture hardcore. Songs like “Refuse to Lose” samples Public Enemy then launches into pure hardcore insanity. Cold World is pretty much the coolest hardcore band out there.

Cold World

Cold World

Cold World

Cold World

Cold World

Cold World

Ah, so we have finally arrived at the Ceremony portion of this review where I get to gush all over my favorite band. Are you as excited for this as I am?

Ceremony

Ceremony

They were amazing as usual. I saw the keyboard onstage and assumed they would open with “Hibernation”, the first song on The L-Shaped Man just like they did at Sound and Fury 2016. I was wrong though, they began with “Sick” instead, the song they closed with two years ago. They then closed this night with “Kersed/It’s Going to be a Cold Winter” and then “Hibernation”, the inverse of what they did in 2016. For a second I thought they just played their 2016 set in reverse but not quite. Still though, when “Hibernation” was over I knew there wouldn’t be an encore. Ceremony knows that less is more, they leave you wanting.

Ceremony

Ceremony

Ceremony

Ceremony

Ceremony

Ceremony

Musically, their set featured songs off every album, capturing that magic of hardcore dancing to post punk that is unique onto them alone. The chemistry of clashing styles between Ross Farrar’s classic American white shirt and jeans and Anthony Anzaldo’s lingerie, is symbolic of the band’s essential theme of ambiguity. In songs like “Sick” they don’t take positions as left or right on the political spectrum, they simply try to make sense of the mess. It was also cool to hear them play “The Understanding”, those lyrics always make me think.

When You try to fall asleep tonight
Remember who’s here with You
Everyone You ever knew
Everyone You ever touched

You know there are studies that suggest women absorb the DNA of their sex partners after having been with them? Regardless of that, for men and women, some piece of everyone you know stays with you and in the spirals of loneliness we often find ourselves in at night, there’s some strange solace in that fact.

Ceremony

Ceremony

Ceremony

Ceremony

Ceremony

Crowd during Ceremony

At one point of the set, a guy was knocked unconscious and the whole venue paused as people tried to snap him out of it. When he finally came to, the festival gave him an ovation of applause and we got right back into raging. For a moment I thought there was some lesson to be learned about knowing your own boundaries at events like this but I don’t know what really happened, so I can’t judge. When the festival was over and we all filed out onto Hill street, we were met with the blaring red lights of a firetruck and it somehow felt like closure to the whole violent weekend.

Ceremony

Ceremony

Only it wasn’t over me, there was still an after show at Resident and a fucking wrestling and Negative Approach show to close out the festivities on Sunday.

My top 5 sets of day 2 beside the headliner:

  1. Sabertooth Zombie
  2. Spiritual Cramp
  3. Fury
  4. Candy
  5. Negative Approach

Resident After Show

Of all the bands I was listening to in preparation for the festival, the one I couldn’t shake from hearing everyday wasn’t even playing the main fest. It was this little Texas metal/hardcore band that doesn’t really play anymore and only had one album. That one album though was so fucking good that it would just play on repeat wherever I drove and when I was at the gym. They had so much rhythm, groove, and hardcore attitude. It was like if Cro-Mags sang Armored Saint lyrics. Medieval themed hardcore, what a brilliant concept. That band was Iron Age. And their album was Constant Struggle.

Just the image of a ram’s horn hanging from the microphone stand as we waited for the band had some iconic, epic meaning to me. When the band finally came on, the entire place exploded. Their singer, Jason Tarpey, would bounce from clean-high metal vocals to reverby hardcore growls. The combination of these two things, power metal and hardcore, opened up entire new worlds of possibility to me that I never knew existed. As soon as the band went into “Evil Ways”, we all went crazy, moshing to the song.

This was definitely one of the highlights of the festival for me and perhaps my favorite set of the weekend.

Suburban Fight + Sound And Fury = Hardcore Wrestling + Negative Approach 

Our local indie bar wrestling promoter Suburban Fight joined forces with Sound and Fury to bring a few hardcore matches to the Hi Hat to further vary this year’s festival. I suspect the addition of wrestling to the weekend was due in part to a man wrestling in the first match, that being Brody King. Brody King is a very talented and hardcore individual, besides wrestling, he’s also the singer for God’s Hate, a very brutal hardcore band on Closed Casket Activities. During last year’s festival, it was Brody King who brought a chair into the after show pit and swung it around like a mad man.

Brody King vs "Filthy" Tom Lawlor

Brody King vs “Filthy” Tom Lawlor

In the first match, Brody was set to fight former UFC fighter “Filthy” Tom Lawlor. They would exchange fists and submission holds during the match, notably Tom put Brody in an arm bar that he used a barricade to hang over for leverage. Brody then stuffed Tom into a recycling bin and delivered numerous chair shots to the bin while Tom was blind inside. Brody then piledrove Tom head first into the bin and got the 1-2-3. Even though I suspect Brody is a heel in all other settings, at Sound and Fury he’s our guy.

Brody King vs "Filthy" Tom Lawlor

Brody King vs “Filthy” Tom Lawlor

Next was a match between Tuna and Heather Monroe. It was a battle between the tough, punk girl and the glamorous cheerleader. They exchanged blows all around the Hi Hat with Heather putting Tuna in a camel clutch at one point on top of the bar. Then once returning to the floor, Tune propped Heather up on stage and from that elevation, DDT’d here down to the floor to get the win.

Tuna vs Heather Monroe

Tuna vs Heather Monroe

Tuna vs Heather Monroe

Tuna vs Heather Monroe

Tuna vs Heather Monroe

Tuna vs Heather Monroe

Lastly, making for one of the festival’s most memorable moments, was the insane battle between Darby Allin and Joey Janela. Darby, the anti-social psychopath, came out pushing his way through the audience. Joey, the pretty boy, soaked in our cheers and boos. This fight generated real cause for alarm. Joey beat the shit out of Darby at first, throwing him off the bar onto the floor, tasering him, you name it. But at the end, Darby climbed the wooden beam at the Hi Hat’s ceiling and jumped down onto Janela, winning the match, and probably breaking Joey’s nose.

Darby Allin vs Joey Janela

Darby Allin vs Joey Janela

Darby Allin vs Joey Janela

Darby Allin vs Joey Janela

To top it all off, Negative Approach played to this pack of hardcore wrestling fans. We were going ape-shit, though not as much as we did during NA’s Saturday performance. John Brannon specifically told us “You’re better behaved than last time,” to which Ron added, “Don’t encourage them.”

Negative Approach

Negative Approach

Negative Approach

Negative Approach

Negative Approach

Negative Approach

All in All

This was undoubtably the best Sound and Fury I’ve been to of the three and I know I say that every year but the organizers seemed to pull out all the stops this time. Seeing as my expectations are always exceeded by this festival, next year’s Sound and Fury will surpass this one… imo.

Words by: Rob Shepyer

Photos by: Albert Licano

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