Sound and Fury Festival is one big happy hardcore family and like any family, we like to fight but it’s only out of love. Artists and fans traveled from far and wide, from inside the USA and beyond, to join together and form an unbreakable bond for four days around hardcore music. The unity we shared was stronger than any of the things that divide people outside this scene’s little bubble. We might seem crazed for jumping off stages and swinging our fists and slamming our bodies into one another but the world-at-large can learn a thing or two from us. We can be the example-setters for brotherhood and sisterhood.
When I call Sound and Fury a family, I mean the artists and the audience alike. That title is earned by the festival’s participants with three key factors:
1. Artists, usually ones under the same record label, will play in other bands throughout the whole festival. So, you’ll see Todd Jones and the festival’s organizer Martin, playing guitars with Terror; or you’ll see Brendan Yates playing guitar with Angel Du$t; or Taylor Young from Nails drumming for Criminal Instinct or playing guitar for Eyes of the Lord. Then you’ll also have a slew of guest vocalists strolling onto stage with no fancy introduction needed for family. If the clap could be transmitted by performing with other bands then every band on the bill would get a standing ovation and burning sensation.
2. The audience gets to come on stage with the bands to sing, often times completely assuming the role as vocalist. Hardcore is the ultimate rock-genre for self-expression because everyone slam dances and stage dives differently. A highlight of the fest might be one specific fan, that everyone knows, going on stage and striking a cool looking move.
3. The artists mingle with the fans as if there’s no barrier between them. Having an artist’s blue wristband and being allowed on stage doesn’t necessarily mean you’re not going to be in the pit. I can’t name how many artists I saw perform then get down for bands they liked.
These things make Sound and Fury UNLIKE any other festival in Los Angeles but it’s the MUSIC that makes the fest BETTER than any other festival in Los Angeles.
Last year was my first Sound and Fury and I loved it so much that I made sure to attend as many after-shows as I could. First, upon arriving in Downtown Los Angeles, I hit up the pop-up shop the festival set up for merch across the street from The Lash. This was their first time selling merch out of separate store as opposed to in the venue.
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Exiles on Main street, our sector of downtown was a sea of tattooed and band shirt covered unemployable bodies. The youth are getting restless but this felt like vacation.
I arrived at The Regent before the first band got on stage. This year, seeing every band was mandatory for me, as well as listening to every band on the lineup. After familiarizing myself with all the bands, here is a list (in no particular order) of who I wanted to see most.
1. Trapped Under Ice
4. Criminal Instinct
5. Bent Life
7. Angel Du$t
Upon making this list, the first thing I thought to myself was: BALTIMORE IS IN THE HOUSE!
Many of the bands that I didn’t care for upon first listen became bands that completely wow’ed me at the festival.
SOUND AND FURY DAY 1
I strolled into The Regent to see these big shiny balloons floating over the entrance that spelled out SF17. Walking below them then stepping through the big black double doors into the festival, I was immediately overcome with this largely unfamiliar feeling of seeing unparalleled energy and anger for an opening band, especially in L.A. Only Sound and Fury gives me that feeling.
Step 4 Change is a fully diverse band from California, exemplifying hardcore unity even before playing a note. Upon playing that note, you realize they are a force to be reckoned with. Their music is pummeling and their guitars have spats of groove and sonic melody. Their singer Ismail Raven can be a cool cat or cold as ice when he sings. Drummer James Stanciell was ripping the house kit up, breaking it in for all the bands to come. Ismail dedicated the last song of Step 4 Change’s set to straight edge kids, even though he no longer is one himself.
Ecostrike was next and were totally fucking amazing. Young and fresh faced, they came out of South Florida with a reputation of being the new Earth Crisis. The band is straight edge, vegan and the kind of socially conscious, hardcore music to snap us out of our sleep and realize how we’re damaging the planet, if anything can. The first lyric that Luke Strike sang told the whole story:
THE TIME IS NOW!
Ecostrike was almost too good to play that early in any lineup.
The pit was slamming hard and I couldn’t help but notice and admire the magic of how everyone knows how and where to assemble to slam- it’s like insects communicating by antenna.
Lower Species is a hardcore band from Olympia, Washington with an intense battery of bass and drums and a singer that reminds me almost of a hardcore version of Johnny Rotten. As soon as they started, they expanded the radius of the pit. Now the pit area was basically 60% of the floor. Lower Species played a set chalk full of aggression and fucking killed it.
The band that traveled the farthest to play the festival, Loyal to the Grave, came all the way from Tokyo, Japan. Any hardcore fan, knows it’s huge in Japan and South Korea, so it was cool to see how this style of East Coast music is interpreted in the Far East to play on the West Coast. Loyal to the Grave totally ruled, in fact their sound bared more of a resemblance to traditional hardcore than plenty of the other bands. They were brutal and had plenty of synergy an at one point, Dan Weinraub from Downpresser joined them on stage to sing one song.
Lock is a local hardcore band made of members of Condition, Doses, and Fury. The band’s singer is actually former Trash Talk drummer Sam Bossom and honestly, I think he found his rightful place, stepping out from behind the kit, in front of the band. This guy looks like a real hardcore punk outlaw. He sang with the intensity and aggression of John Brannon from Negative Approach. Lock’s high energy and take no prisoners attitude permeated through the Regent. You’ll be hearing more of this band or any band Bossom sings for.
Westpoint was one of the few bands on the lineup that strayed closer to emo sensibilities than hardcore. I can’t get stoked for any emo but to my surprise they opened with a cover of my favorite band of all time, doing Last Caress. So, I can’t hate. Westpoint hails from Pennsylvania and this was their first time playing the West Coast. They would wail on their guitars and take-on a Weezer vibe at moments. Perhaps they were meant to play soft as a means to build tension until the next band: Xibalba.
Xibalba are fucking crazy. Like an angry pitbull, frothing at the mouth, and starved for a few days before being unleashed on its living dinner, Nate Rebolledo barks out his hardcore/metal core growls with sharp intensity. While the other bands played under white light, Xibalba was bathed in reds and haze so as to truly make us feel like we’re in hell. Because that’s how they’re music sounds, hellacious. It’s a noisy, jagged kind of hardcore that meets metal and death metal but not in the way that metalcore (emo) or deathcore (death emo) bands do. They played songs in both English and Spanish and gave it up for the people of color in the audience.
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Firewalker is a hardcore band from Boston, Massachusetts. If I were to play you their music, you’d have no idea that those insane growls were coming from a girl named Sophie. Their set was almost a round-robin of fans assuming the role of vocalist after climbing on stage, slam dancing a bit, then grabbing the mic and spitting lyrics. In addition to Sophie’s vocals, Cecilia’s guitars were brooding and volatile, creating an atmosphere of urban destruction.
Take Offense was the thrashiest band of the whole fest, I’d still call them hardcore because of their vocals and song structure but those solos were something straight out of Anthrax and their breakdowns are just as heavy. Add in choruses you can all sing along to and it’s like DRI and Cro-Mags had a bastard. They covered Bad Brains’ “Big Take Over” and everyone knew the words. These guys might just be the next big crossover sensation.
No other Sound and Fury band really makes you understand how cool and funny most hardcore kids are as Bracewar do. While the rest of the bands had their names projected behind them onstage, Bracewar had a picture of a hentai threesome between three big-eyed, big-breasted, anime girls. Juxtapose that on top of their savory and brutal hardcore licks and that’s the spirit of hardcore homie-ness.
“Someone needs a butthole licked, hook my man up!” – Ryan Wall, lead singer of Bracewar.
These guys are Sound and Fury favorites every time, the fans know all the words and slam and stage dive liberally to their traditional hardcore bounce. David Wood dedicated the last song, “Friends Like You”, to his wife and the fans went ape-shit until the microphone cut out and a sing-along erupted.
Orange County’s own Fury was fucking incredible and one of the highlights of the festival. They had so much energy and passion that they fed right to the crowd to reciprocate back. It was thrilling to watch. At this point, the Regent was packed to the brim with people that knew the words to every Fury song. The way their singer, Jeremy, moves is explosive. He looks like Iggy Pop but sings and moves like Henry Rollins. Their one song, “The Feeling” has such an epic hook and at the end they jam out so hard that they take you to another place. This band only released their debut full length last year and with a performance like this, shit, their time might have just come.
Santa Barbara’s Harness was next and in order to follow a performance like Fury’s they had to change things up which they did with slower and dirtier riffs. There is a certain type of hardcore that feels like the soundtrack to prowling an alley, clenching your fist and gritting your teeth before taking a swing at some dude twice your size. Harness has mastered that sound.
Terror is the epitome of hardcore.
If someone asks you to name a marquee hardcore band off the top of your head, Terror is a damn good answer. And you don’t have to ask just me, a mere blogger, ask any of the musicians at Sound and Fury because they were all on stage or in the pit going ape-shit. Scott Vogel came out in a Toronto Maple Leafs jersey with the number 02 and name ILL BLOOD. From the artists to the fans, hell even security, everyone knew the words to their songs and numerous people joined them on stage to partake in the blood brew. Marteen, one of the festival organizers, played guitar for the whole set while former Terror member and current Nails frontman Todd Jones got on stage to shred guitar on Keep Your Mouth Shut.
Between songs, Vogel used the opportunity to spread a message of hardcore unity regardless of political affiliation and color. We gave him an uproarious applause because hardcore kids stay together and don’t trip on the weak shit that divides other groups.
Terror closed their set with the anthemic pledge of hardcore allegiance, “Keepers of the Faith”, a song that really touches the heart of what hardcore music is all about which is staying true to yourself but also staying true to the code. Much like the Bushido of feudal Japan, proper hardcore kids have standards to live by, standards that quite frankly many of the people that might be prejudice to them don’t have.
Here was Terror’s setlist:
Out of My Face
Spit My Rage (feat. Dre Stewart of Donnybrook)
Life and Death
One With the Underdogs
Lowest of the Low
The 25th Hour
No Time for Fools
Keep Your Mouth Shut
Keepers of the Faith
I became a fan of Baltimore’s Turnstile when they came out with Nonstop Feeling. I saw them twice, once opening for Basement and again the night after Donald Trump had won the presidency. Those guys always tear the house down and their singer, Brendan Yates, proved himself to be a hardcore renaissance man during this Sound and Fury by drumming for Trapped Under Ice the next day and playing guitars for Angel Du$t on Sunday’s Pop Wig records showcase. Yates spends just as much time singing as he does slamming in his own idiosyncratic, vibrant way. I’ve never seen anyone launch off a stage with the kind of arc and air he gets. That energy is so infectious that everyone keeps it moving for the whole set whenever they play.
On this occasion, Turnstile’s set was an all-out party with the staged packed with homies and the audience vibing and slamming their hardcore hearts out. Just as much time and focus is put into executing the song as having a good time, so there will be chunks of songs that go unsung and sacrificed so that everyone, including the band, can just go crazy.
The band’s music is often called hardcore meets 311 (not my description. No death threats, please), sorta making their own mellow meets agro hybrid. It’s because of that groove and rhythm that the band sounds as unruly as they do.
They opened with “Death Grip” and even before Yates could sing a lyric, the crowd exploded with high voltage bodies bouncing off the stage like bolts of hot blue electricity. Franz Lyons, the bands bass player, was rowdily jumping and stomping all over the stage until providing melodic backing vocals to infuse the songs with that 311 chill. Franz’s vocals then take center stage for the set-essential Blue By You.
When they played “Gravity” the crowd erupted into a huge sing-along, coming together to belt out the hardcore ethos encapsulated in that song.
Expose to fear, pound it out
And forget about self-doubt
Because I’ve been living a lie
Something over my eyes
Hard to lift my focus from the ground
I keep me down
It’s just the gravity I keep around
For the song “Keep It Moving”, Krimewatch’s Emma Hendry came onstage to play Franz’s bass so he could properly slam around. The band closed their set with the frenzied and fan favorite “Drop”.
Here was Turnstile’s setlist:
Come Back For More
Harder On You
The Things You Do
Pushing Me Away
Blue By You
Keep It Moving
We piled out of the Regent like a hardcore herd of cattle and I saw people bathing themselves from head to toe in the bathroom sinks and the windows above the entrance all fogged up from the clouds of sweat that rose up from our partying. I don’t think the Regent had ever seen that much energy.
I didn’t think twice about ending my night early so I could rest up and do it all over again the next day because Closed Casket Activities was doing a label showcase at 5 Star Bar and a few of the bands I had been looking forward to most were playing.
The 5 Star Bar is a dinky little venue that has probably never hosted a show as insane as this one turned out to be. I walked in to hear The Cult playing over the loud speakers and it looked like the hardcore kids were enjoying it.
Atlanta’s Criminal Instinct was the first band to play and immediately the most rabid fans drew their fangs and bit the pit and toxified it with more violence and insanity than anything I saw at the festival. Dude’s punching scared fans standing at the rim of the pit to hype people up, guys turning their bodies into cannonballs right into women that were too paralyzed with fear to move. Eventually the floor got slippery with spilled beer and people would slam and slip and get right back up and keep slamming. Criminal Instinct was joined onstage with the singer of Human Garbage on guitar and Taylor Young from Nails, drumming. The band played their brutal style of hardcore for a few songs, culminating in their song “No Privilege.”
One audience member seemed especially crazy after he grabbed a chair and started wildly swinging it around. That turned out to be the singer of God’s Hate, Nate Blauvelt, who would play later.
But first, Eyes of The Lord played a surprise set with Taylor Young on guitar. They delivered only a few songs in their volatile style.
That wasn’t going to the only surprise of the night though, after they finished, Todd Jones and John Gianelli walked downstairs and took up their instruments and out of nowhere there was a surprise Nails show, playing as their original three-piece. They only played a few songs, three or four, but packed in plenty of riffage to get my fill for the night.
Of all the times I’ve seen Nails, they were never as aggressive as they were this night.
Then came on LA’s own God’s Hate and the destroyer that had been wreaking havoc in the pit was now obligated to perform. God’s Hate’s music is fucking psychotic, they’re like Deicide but hardcore. They make walls of brutal noise that breakdown behind a voice that sounds just like the tattoo the singer has on his back, Cerberus, the three-headed dog from hell.
I don’t think I’ve ever seen a gnarlier human being in my life than Nate Blauvelt.
Lastly was Incendiary. Incendiary made the best hardcore album of 2017. If you mention Incendiary to fans at Sound and Fury they’ll respond with: “Dude have you heard their new album???”
That new album is called Thousand Mile Stare and it’s made a huge splash. Incendiary sounded to me at first like a NYC hardcore Rage Against the Machine because of Brendan Garone’s vocal style. He sounds like Zac de la Rocha, sorta rap-chanting over rock, but in this case, it’s over pure hardcore. Garone’s performing style reminds me of Bruce Lee. He moves with liquid kung fu.
Their songs are political and thought provoking, most notably in “The Product Is You” and “Still Burning”, both of which they played at the 5 Star. Incendiary was going to play on Day 2 of Sound and Fury right before the headliners Trapper Under Ice but I wanted to see them as many times as I could. Believe the hype. Incendiary are amazing whether in a small bar or a huge theater like the Regent.
My night ended without exhaustion, my brain chemistry felt altered. The peace and silence that came after the storm of Day 1 disturbed me, I couldn’t wait for day 2 to return to the chaos and violence that made me feel spiritually whole.
SOUND AND FURY DAY 2
I returned to the Regent for the first band and that was San Francisco’s Profile. The singer, Lucy, who would go on to sing for Primal Rite later, started the day off singing over melodic hardcore. Jumping around with pure energy and conviction, Lucy’s pig tails flopped wildly in the air with him during their badass set.
Up next was one of the band’s I had been looking forward to most and was surprised they were playing only second, that was Baltimore’s Queensway. They had one of the heaviest and most brutal sounds on record but live their most pronounced quality was their command of an audience. It seemed like they were pulling us on strings, making us slam exactly when and how they wanted. Their singer, Pat Baltimore, has the kind of voice that’ll make you stand up and follow and fight in the streets, either for a cause or just for fun.
Next was Lucy’s other band Primal Rite, also from San Francisco. They were a bit thrashier than Profile and here, Lucy really showed his metallic side with more growling. Where Profile had melody, Primal Rite had bounce and shred. The band played two songs off their new LP to be released later in the year. Lucy also gave the most shout-outs of the fest during this set, shout- outs to Step for Change and No Right and Riley and Marteen.
One of the funniest moments of the fest occurred during Primal Rite’s set where a fight broke out in the pit between a large male, (300+ pounds) and some slam dancing dude he was chasing. The pursuer was able to get in a few punches but the pursued simply slam danced to evade most of his blows until escaping in the crowd.
Day 2 was far more violent than Day 1- I went outside to smoke a cigarette and saw people consoling a young girl, overhearing her friends say “Man she got fucked up!” Once people inched away from her, I was able to get a good look at the damage and saw her nursing her bludgeoned teeth (or lack thereof) with ice. Then later, back inside, I saw a kid holding his arm and being escorted out by security, my guess: dislocated shoulder.
Tørso was another highlight of the fest for me. They’re an Oakland based band with a female vocalist and their style of hardcore infuses heaps of anarcho-punk. They’ve got an upbeat tempo that you might be able to get away with pogo’ing to. They brought the atmosphere of a backyard show to the Regent, covering the band Void in their set.
Vein definitely stepped it up, they’re a band that’s difficult to describe and what you can’t understand you fear, so yes, I fear Vein. It’s hardcore but it sounds like it comes from a very shattered mind. The riffs and arrangements of the songs are jagged and dragging and induce some kind of emotional pain in you, meanwhile the singer is going completely ape-shit at his own speed. You have to behold it before you can slam to it and when you behold it, Vein gives you chills. But apparently, chills don’t stop some folks from slamming.
Next was another band I enjoyed prior to the fest, Bent Life. The fact that they were tuning up with the song “Punishment” by Biohazard only made me more stoked for their set. They ended up playing the most straight forward hardcore music of the day till that point, a fix everyone was dying for. We all sang and slammed and went crazy with the energy they let us get out. A band like Bent Life has plenty of their own energy to bring the table but their music is really a vehicle for us to go crazy, which not every band on the bill can say.
Gotta give it up for Gatecreeper. That’s become a band I’ll support through thick and thin, having seen them thrice before, I decided to watch them from the stage. Their sound is almost too much of a death metal assault for hardcore kids to know exactly what to do with. Their bodies are telling them to slam but the music is telling them to mosh, so some cables get criss-crossed but nonetheless, this band always kills it and sets the bar for death metal in 2017.
Dangers was a band that surprised me. I listened to them and dismissed them as just another screamo band but maybe a little more crazed, boy was I wrong. They were fucking insane. None of the bands on either day showed as much intensity as the singer of Dangers, Al Brown. There were multiple moments in their set that were day-defining and really made them transcend the other bands. Things got especially intense when Brown screamed through the first verse of the Clash’s “Guns of Brixton”, then later about being a beaner, then again at the set’s end when he screamed:
“you’re all going to die, your parents, your children, you’re all going to die, but you’re not alone…”
New York’s Krimewatch is the band to watch from Sound and Fury. If you’re a girl looking for a positive female punk rock role models, fuck Downtown Boys, fuck Kim and the Created, your band is Krimewatch.
They were absolutely ferocious. The crowd went crazier for them than all the bands prior. Emma Hendry grooved on her bass, Sean Joyce ripped on his guitar, Shayne reamed the drums, and Rhylli, their singer, is the new femme fatale comic book villainess of punk rock. She encapsulates beauty, danger, and subversion just by being herself and belting out the songs.
Free is a Massachusetts hardcore band made up of former members of Have Heart. As the singer, Patrick Flynn explained, the name might sound a little too simple but to him it’s one of the most beautiful words in the English language. In fact, the name was originally meant to be an acronym for: Free to be. Right to Choose. Equal to you. Equal to me. Of all the bands, Free were the most politically charged, often ranting between songs about everything from prison reform to unity. Musically, they were a straight forward hardcore act to bounce and sing to.
At the end of the set, Flynn thanked Sound and Fury for having a diverse bill of bands play because it is a sign of progress and not greed.
More to Pride were up next. They’re a hardcore band out of Anaheim, California that plays traditional hardcore with a chicano edge. They disbanded in 2006 and are back together to demolish ear drums. More to Pride’s bass is packed with plenty of grime and their guitars screech and grind until you can’t help but go crazy. Their singer shouts with a genuine and undeniable anger that he must pull from a very real place.
Dreams do come true, folks, you just need good people to come together and make them realities. Harley Flanagan coming to the West Coast is no everyday occurrence, call me a geezer but he was the most exciting draw on the whole Sound and Fury lineup to me. Not just because I love the Cro-Mags but because Flanagan himself is a legend and walking rock and roll history book. The personality feeds my love of the music, I don’t separate the two but I also don’t let bad behavior or opinions stop me from enjoying the personality or music.
Plenty of people give a musician shit if they’ll say they support Trump, well Harley Flanagan has stabbed mother fuckers and I don’t see twitter uproars or protests targeting him, you know why?
Two reasons: Because real music fans don’t give a fuck and because real musicians are not perfect people.
Flanagan, who’s now 50, still muscular from his day job as a Brazilian Jiu Jitsu instructor, gave everything I wanted out of his set and more. The talented band of rippers he assembled opened with the classic “We Gotta Know” and right out of the gate everyone scrambled to get on stage and sing. Harley had to dodge and dip away from mother fuckers just to avoid head on collisions. To follow one classic, he dished out another with “Show You No Mercy” and then “World Peace”.
I was seeing the Sound and Fury moments of my dreams, as if you could take a time machine and grab the Cro-Mags and bring them back to 2017 to headline Sound and Fury. I looked at an old picture of the original band, Flanagan + Joseph, and thought to myself that this was the hardest band I’ve ever seen.
But make no mistake, this wasn’t the Cro-Mags, just like John Joseph’s touring band ain’t either and Harley totally took the time to make that point. I had seen John Joseph’s Cro-Mags earlier in the year and he’s still rad but I’d say Harley’s band is better and though Harley can’t perfectly execute the vocals, the show was so much more high energy than John Joseph’s Cro-Mags that we, Sound and Fury 2017, filled in for Joseph. The band then wrapped up playing Cro-Mags classics with “Hard Times”, the final, most explosive release of the set.
How do you follow that? Well, Sound and Fury had this one band up their sleeve called Turnover. Turnover is as far from hardcore as you could get. They’re a chill, delicate, introspective rock band that plays soft alternative jams. There’s a certain style of that soft stuff that will draw hardcore kids though, there’s something they latch onto in the sound and aesthetics because after all, hardcore kids don’t just want music that acts as a soundtrack to all their troubles, they want a sound that communicates the little moments of reverie in between. That’s Turnover.
I didn’t get into them at first listen but after seeing them live, melting a bunch of rough hardcore kids into mush in front of their girlfriends, now I can’t stop listening. It’s the perfect music to drift away to. Here’s another band I’m sure will break through, only they’ll do it in the mainstream world and take their punk rock fans with them. Turnover was the perfect breath before Incendiary.
Standing behind Incendiary on stage, in front of a packed Regent, is a much more visceral experience than seeing them go on at 1AM at the 5 Star bar. The audience was moving in waves as the band made the stage their bitch. Every fans’ foot and fist seemed to be heavier when they stomped and swung. The fans clearly held a connection to the band on a deeply primal level. If you could replicate how we felt during Incendiary’s set out in the streets during a protest, we could take back the power. Beating his chest as he sang “Fan the Flames”, Brandon Garone was at the top of his game and when he instructed us to “Fuck this place up!’ that’s exactly what we did. Everyone was singing to the next song, Garone’s favorite Incendiary song, “The Power Process”. The next song, “God’s Country”, was dedicated to everyone who thinks they got this band figured out, because they don’t know shit. Incendiary closed their set with “Primitive Rage” and the entire Regent came together to demand change by singing “FORCING A RECKONING. SET US FREE!”
In every genre, there are certain performances that are so well executed that they become iconic. Roger Waters at Berlin, Oasis at Knebworth, N.W.A. at the Joe Louis Arena…. From my vantage point, Trapped Under Ice’s Sound and Fury 2017 was an iconic performance for the hardcore history books. The energy was at 11 from the very first moment of “Born to Die”. Now was the time to let it all out, anything you had been holding back. After a few more songs, singer Justin Tripp took off his jacket to reveal the coolest, Iggy Pop RAW FUCKING POWER shirt I’ve ever seen- it was clearly fueling his mojo. Out of all the lead singers, in all the bands I saw at Sound and Fury, Tripp had the most makings of a star.
They debuted a new song called “Do It” off their upcoming album Heat Wave that got everyone unhinged. The whole set, the audience was so enthused that they ended up getting confused, not knowing whether to rush to the front for a chance to sing into the mic, to slam dance, or to stage dive- it was all one big chaotic sea below the stage but a fire storm above it. By the last note, with the hairs on my arms standing up tall, I knew that I had seen something special.
Here was Trapped Under Ice’s setlist:
Born to Die
Half a Person
Do It (Live debut)
Pleased to Meet You
The main festival had come to a close, my Saturday night was now over… or so I thought….
TRIPLE B SHOWCASE
I was deeply upset that Warning had to cancel the after show that would’ve followed Saturday’s festivities due to visa issues. It’s a thrill to see a show in the Regent after hours. Visa issues have been an epidemic in 2017 among European or Asian bands trying to tour the states. I’ve now been denied seeing Taake, Warning, Conflict, and Wormrot due to these issues. I blame Trump.
So now my only option was the Triple B showcase which I was totally ready to miss until Young And In The Way, the band that was going to open for Warning, was added to the end of the lineup at the last minute.
I met up with the friend that informed me that Young And In The Way was going to play and drank at his loft for about an hour until going to the 5 Star bar. That’s where I met up with Danny B. At the bar my friend reunited with the guitarist of Eyes of the Lord from the CCA showcase the night before, they hadn’t seen each other in at least a decade when they used to play in a hardcore band in Albany, New York. Another example of this fest bringing people together, jus’ sayin’.
I crept inside to see the end of Forced Order’s great set and saw an awkward scene of youngsters standing against the wall opposite of the bar. Straight Edge kids. Swinging their arms in windmills them slamming into each other like Don Quixote.
It was now 1:20AM and Self Defense Family was just starting. I looked to my friend and assured him YAITW wasn’t going to have time to play but we both decided to take our chances and stay in the hopes I was wrong. Staying was the mistake.
Look, I’m sure for a certain people Self Defense Family is a great band that makes cathartic music but as a metal-punk-hardcore loving mother fucker, sorry that shit was some of the worst music I’ve ever heard in my life. And look, I’m going to sound like an asshole but I’m NOT just trying to be funny.
Now with the singer’s over-dramatic-eunuch-like-wailing-vocals over the band’s uninspired mesh of music they created the unholy combination of emo and shoe-gaze, emo-gaze. The floor was slippery with straight edge tears and all my friend and I could do was drink our beers and watch in a boredom so pure that we nearly overdosed.
For a moment, I considered buying the whole bar a round but then I realized the straight edge kids were too into the listening to the singer talk about wanting to punch his Dad’s fat head. The music was so bad that it made the pain of missing YAITW hilarious.
I went outside for some fresh silence and found Marteen, one of the festival’s organizer. I asked him if YAITW would play and he assured me they would. I then asked him what his favorite band from the fest was and he answered me:
I couldn’t let this opportunity of talking to the mastermind of Sound and Fury go without making one request for Sound and Fury 2018, which was to get Integrity to headline. I’m sure everyone shares this hope but someone had to say it.
I went back into the bar as Self Defense Family was wrapping up. The stage was now empty and the gear being torn down. It was 1:45AM and last call had already been called. Just then, Young And In The Way strolled into the bar and my friend and I jumped up with joy. Then the bar manager told them they couldn’t play and my friend and I got the hell out of there as fast as we could.
The night ended on a sour note but I wouldn’t let that be the case for the festival. There was still one label showcase left on the next day and that was for Pop Wig records and Justin Tripp’s other band, Angel Du$t, was headlining.
POP WIG SHOWCASE
The Hi Hat is a great venue. It’s small enough to make for intimate experiences but also big enough to move around freely. Not to mention, it houses Burger Lords which made a special vegan burger for Angel Du$t and then on top of that, you can shoot fucking billiards at the same time as a band is playing… where else can you do that?
I got there in time to see Bugg, a cool alternative rock band that played an awesome cover of There She Goes by The La’s.
Next up was Odd Man Out a hardcore band from Seattle with plenty of melody and kinetic energy. Bugg had left the audience chilled so it was up to Odd Man Out to warm us up to a boil, which they did, manifesting a pit out of pure nothingness. The band made as much use of the small stage as any band could and their singer sang with loads of conviction. It was such a treat for them to cover Negative Approach’s “Nothing” and it gave me plenty of hope for every generation of hardcore to come. I only wish they played the actual festival too.
Seattle’s Big Bite was next, they were a post punk band with an edge that just finished up a tour with Bugg. They were a good band but one thing I noticed and maybe it’s just me, but too many bands revert to gaze guitar whenever they want to slow things down. Shoegaze seems to be an easy and obvious direction to take any alternative song in today’s underground music. I’m not saying I don’t like gaze, I do, I just want to see things get changed up.
Firewalker played next with just as much aggression as they did in the main festival and just like two days prior the stage was flocked with girls singing the lyrics into the microphone.
I personally enjoy listening to Angel Du$t even more than Trapped Under Ice. I don’t want to call Angel Du$t Justin Tripp’s side project because in the world of Pop Wig Records I don’t think the concept of side exists- other bands are just separate entities and collaborations. Under the flag of Angel Du$t, Tripp is able to express a different side of himself, one with much more swag and melody and fun in his urban maladies.
Turnstile’s Brendan Yates joined the band on guitar and astonished us all as a Jack of all blades, Da Vinci of dope, renaissance man-o-war. Angel Du$t played all the fan favorites and together, as one big happy family. Upset that Sound and Fury couldn’t go on forever, we danced and sang and fed this one big highland park hardcore happening. Plenty of those songs, Tripp introduced as love songs and there was plenty of love in that room to go around for days.
All the hits:
Let It Rot
Beat My Brain
Take My Love
Set Me Up
I feel like Angel Du$t is closer to hardcore punk and not hardcore and I think the distinction should be made. Hardcore punk is a label attributed to bands like the Misfits, Dead Kennedys, and Black Flag but these aren’t hardcore bands. Trapped Under Ice is definitely hardcore but Angel Du$t rings closer to heavy, melodic punk rock and thus deserving the hardcore punk title.
Angel Du$t’s closer “Set Me Up” is definitely my favorite of their songs and for it, the stage was swarmed by as many people as it could and that’s when we executed one of the rarest, coolest concert moments you could see: Crowd surfing on stage. The only step up from there is everyone on stage and the singer standing on their hands.
One important thing Tripp said during his set was that:
“a band is an idea nobody owns, let it be whatever you want it to be…”
He went on to say the same for record labels and that touched upon the main lesson I took from Sound and Fury that- no band reaches success alone. We all need other people to fulfill our dreams and in a record label, like Pop Wig or Closed Casket Activities or Triple B, you can find like-minded bands that will help you if you help them and together, everyone will prosper. There is no room for ego in hardcore.
Both bands Trapped Under Ice and Angel Du$t prosper, then through Trapped Under Ice’s success Brendan Yates prospers and thus Turnstile prospers. And there were so many similar examples that it can’t just be a coincidence. All the collaborations I saw this weekend only reinforced that point.
It’s family, plain and simple.
Highlights of the fest: Homewrecker playing a cover of Sepultura’s “Propaganda” at the Kickoff show, Ecostrike’s set, Lock’s set, Bracewar’s hentai backdrop, Fury’s phenomenal set, Todd Jones playing guitar on “Keep Your Mouth Shut” with Terror, Nails’ surprise show at CCA showcase, Nate Blauvelt swinging a chair in the pit at 5 Star Bar, Torso’s set, Dangers’ set, Krimewatch’s set, HARLEY FUCKING FLANAGAN, Trapped Under Ice’s set, Odd Man Out covering Negative Approach, Angel Du$t playing “Set Me Up” with everyone on stage at the Hi Hat.
MVP’s of the fest: Fury and Incendiary.
Words: Rob Shepyer