Cyber-Core: Vein. FM at the Echoplex
Vein.fm’s signature blend of emotionally driven post-hardcore and ferocious metalcore with unpredictable glitchy electronic-based samples transformed the Echoplex into a violent cyperpunk apocalypse with their recent headlining performance. With the show starting at 6pm, they hosted a nearly festival-sized lineup of upcoming hardcore punk bands from all different sounds that shared a common theme of having intense, ass-beating breakdowns that inspire spin-kicks throughout the room. As hardcore punk gains more prominence with current trends, bands like Vein.fm and co-headliner Candy are beginning to break into the audiences of other heavy music scenes more than ever. If you’re a fan of punk rock, metal, or even heavier electronic IDM scenes at all, then Vein.fm should absolutely be one of the top bands on your radar.
With the show starting at the incredibly early time of 6pm, the first opening acts of the night were Twist of Cain, Living Weapon, and Momentum. Each band brought their own unique brand of hardcore to the lineup, with Twist of Cain starting things off sounding raw as all hell with their lack of effects or electronics compared to the rest of the bands that evening. Twist of Cain has an incredibly down-to-earth hardcore sound with garage-sounding production that evokes the energy of Hatebreed’s Under the Knife demo in how primal and hostile their music is. With Twist of Cain only having one recent demo that was released in 2022, it’s hard to think of a better act to open the evening in representation of Vein.fm’s lasting dedication to the underground sides of the hardcore scene.
Living Weapon was possibly the most intimidating band on the lineup with their nightmare-ishly dark and heavy style, easily being the most metalcore-influenced band of the night. Featuring bassist Jonathan Lhaubouet from Vein.fm as Living Weapon’s vocalist, he commands the room as he screams in guttural death metal-esque growls. Considering how early the show started, the feet flying in the air hadn’t quite started in the pits but Living Weapon’s violent presence had the room in a state of shock at how masterful they were in creating that image of pure aggressive darkness.
Momentum has been a staple band within the Los Angeles hardcore scene for quite a few years now, and it’s easy to see why they appear on so many lineups with the rowdy high energy that the band brings to the stage. Guitarist Carlos Seijas is not afraid to dive into flashy and complex guitar solos, giving them a bright personality that is not often seen in the breakdown heavy brand of Los Angeles punk that they came up in.
The last song of Momentum’s set “Relapse” is an instant straight-edge classic, and had the most prominent crowd reaction with the LA hardcore heads in the crowd screaming along to the lyrics “Relapse and die” with vocalist Jordan Jenkins. Even if straight-edge has fallen out of style with the newer waves of hardcore, Momentum proves that there’s still a market for the movement. Momentum may be a regular opener for breakdown-heavy hardcore shows, but they’re on their way to hosting lineups as large as this if they keep releasing these instant anthems.
Regulate completely flipped the energy of the room on its head from the earlier darker sounding openers. As soon as they took the stage, it was apparent they would have a much more old-school hardcore punk presence with a more upbeat sound. It’s easy to quickly notice that Regulate is a New York straight-edge band, wearing their influences on their sleeve as frontman Sebastian Paba sings in an anthemic and melodic nature while hopping around the stage in a Down To Nothing cut-off tee. Paba almost raps at times over the groovy swift guitar riffs of Michael Botti during the verses, making it almost impossible not to two-step along with how infectious and dance-y their sound is. Regulate’s label Flatspot Records have been absolutely killing it lately with finding unique bands with distinct personalities that bring an old-school punk energy to the table, and I can’t think of a label where Regulate’s vibrant character would belong more.
Regulate fills each of their tracks with classic hardcore punk themes of self-expression and speaking passionately about social issues, with Paba taking moments between songs to give speeches about individualism, community, and the importance of their latino heritage within underground music. Sebastian Paba speaks with the devotion to his beliefs seen in classic hardcore frontmen like Ian Mackaye or Ray Cappo of Youth of Today, boldly emphasizing how the message of hardcore punk is equally important as the music. Regulate is certainly about to blow up in the near future with their lively energy and how much pure punk rock passion that they put into their performances, and they’re definitely one of the top hardcore bands of recent years to check out if you’re a fan of the more classic roots of the scene.
Candy was the perfect medium between the more old-school punk nature of Regulate and the industrial metalcore-influenced atmosphere that Vein.fm provides. As soon as Candy started their set, the Echoplex was filled with fast and thrashy walls of noise that commanded attention from everyone in the room. Frontman Zak Quiram sings in raspy, short screams with an animalistic and rabid spirit that fluidly compliments the nonstop bursts of thrashing instrumentals and instantly fills the listener with a burst of passionate aggression. Even with how heavy Candy’s sound is, they are definitely more punk than metal in nature with their rapid trash can-sounding snares from drummer Andrew Stark and groovy riff-heavy guitars from Michael Quick. While Candy’s style is as dark and menacing as any of the artists on this lineup, they’re as rowdy and chaotic as a punk band can get.
Candy’s newest album Heaven Is Here is probably the best hardcore release of 2022 so far, incorporating more experimental elements of noise music and doom metal than their previous straight-forward hardcore releases. Even with how many genres the new album explored, Candy kept these elements to a minimum during their set in order to give a full spotlight to Vein.fm’s experimental genre-bending sound. This entire show had a clear emphasis on bands supporting other bands, and Candy stuck to the prompt with their devotion to playing their destructive, fast-as-hell material that stood out from the rest. Candy is one of the rawest bands taking over the hardcore scene right now, and seeing them live in any environment is transcendental in the pure mayhem that their music embodies.
Although the crowd was incredibly enthusiastic with the opening acts of the evening, as soon as Vein.fm finally started their set it was evident that they were the star act of the lineup. The set began with their more straight-forward heavy material than their more experimental and electronic-infused material, instantly opening up a mosh pit of flailing limbs in all directions as the trademark high-pitched squealing distorted guitars of Jeremy Martin resembling an emergency-siren filling the Echoplex with the riotous dystopia-like atmosphere that Vein’s sound evokes. Vein.fm furiously blasted through classics throughout their discography with barely any breaks between songs as frontman Anthony DiDio screams with piercing yelps that complete the instrumental anarchy occurring behind him. Vein.fm is a hectic-ass band set to wreak havoc on the audience, and experiencing them in-person is definitely not for the faint of heart.
Even with Vein.fm’s heavy influence from the post-hardcore and metalcore nature of bands such as Converge and Dillinger Escape Plan, Vein.fm’s sound is truly unlike any other in their delivery and presentation. They somehow manage to blend the heavy brutality of metal in their breakdowns and vocals with the spazzy structure of punk rock with their blistering lightning-speed drums and breaks of noise-y feedback. This fusion creates a massive and hectic sound that evokes visions of a futuristic computer glitching out and catching on fire as it plays a 4k video of a melting chainsaw. The chaotic nature of their music is contrasted with segments of foreboding heavy bass and crisp, melodic vocals that only contribute to the threatening and destructive atmosphere of their signature sound while adding an trance-like state of surrealism to the world they’re crafting.
Vein.fm have quickly entered legend status within the hardcore scene mainly due to their transformative sound that is incredibly bold in how theatrical and atmospheric it is. Even before any of their full lengths were released, Vein.fm were already one of the most talked about hardcore bands in the scene due to the brutal nature of their performances. This was partially due to the unfortunate girl who had her teeth knocked out at Vein’s iconic Sound and Fury Fest set in 2017, but they have certainly transcended this reputation of being the most violent band to see into one of the most innovative and experimental hardcore acts of this era. Vein.fm has stormed through each and every hardcore trope, and they’re certainly sure to travel beyond these sounds as a whole in the near future.
It’s incredibly rare to see an encore demanded by hardcore fans due to the underground nature of the scene, but the crowd was clamoring to hear more as soon as the band exited the pitch black stage. As the room demanded an encore, you would have thought that you were seeing a major pop artist with how enthusiastic people reacted to them returning to their instruments on stage before ripping into the last tracks of the night. Their set closed with the 50-second track “A Crumpled Memo” from their massive breakthrough EP Self-Destruct. It could not have been more fitting to end the night with where Vein.fm’s reputation as being one of the most savage bands all started. Although the crowd was dying to hear more, everybody was exhausted beyond belief from the chaos they just experienced.
The line between the hardcore and metal genres is a very thin one that is often crossed over in sound, but maintaining respect within both scenes can be quite the difficult feat considering the DIY punk roots that the hardcore scene is based in. Hardcore bands that are able to crossover in their appeal to obsessive metalheads tend to be much more successful in building a long-term career, but far too often they sacrifice their punk roots and alienate their earlier hardcore fans with accusations of selling out once diehard metalheads jump on board. Hardcore artists like Vein.fm and Candy are impressively able to avoid these criticisms with their dedication to experimenting with their sounds consistently and playing these huge lineups packed to the brim with up and coming bands within the scene. With how much these bands and hardcore music as a whole are blowing up at the moment, it’s clear that other communities of underground and heavy music are starting to cross over and explore these shows more often.
Hardcore bands that are experimenting with heavier, more metal-influenced sounds should take note of how bands like Vein.fm host massive lineups of up-and-coming bands such as this one, if they plan on crossing over into other scenes while maintaining their underground punk-cred within the scenes that they owe their success to. Vein.fm may cross over into other audiences as they grow, but they will always stay faithful to their down to earth hardcore roots and the fans that brought them here.
Words by: Danny Ryan
Photos by: Greg Flack