Posted by: Necci – Sep 27, 2011
The Best Friends Day musical festivities reached new heights on Friday, August 19th with a sold-out show at the Canal Club. The vibe of the show was a little strange, however, because of the variation in who was playing. Most of the metal/hardcore fans were seen standing around drinking downstairs during Strike Anywhere, and all the pop punkers left in a max exodus before Converge. Still, there was an overall vibe of BFD camaraderie that kept things on a friendly level despite the clash of cultures.
First to play was Capsule, whose set I partially missed due to disparity on start times and having to wait in a stupid long line. Capsule describe themselves on their Myspace as simply hardcore, but in my opinion they combine melodic metalcore and Strike Anywhere-style punk with traditional hardcore. Although this sound became tired five years ago when it was the biggest trend around, Capsule seem to play with genuine intensity that comes through on their recordings as well as live, and, although not something I would listen to everyday, were certainly catchy and an enjoyable watch.
Next up were local staples The Catalyst. In a past review I have mentioned how underappreciated I think they are, so it was nice to see them play a sold-out show, even as an opening act, instead of just playing Strange Matter or one of the local circuits. I love their psychedelic, hard-core tinged sound akin to that of Daughters or the Blood Brothers, and I thought they made an awesome addition to a show that demonstrated the many faces of hardcore.
Dead to Me played next, which was good slot placement, since they play the same style of poppy melodic hardcore as Strike Anywhere. I tried to get into this band and give them a fair listen, even though my pop punk tastes usually skip over that subgenre and run more towards guilty pleasures like Sum 41 and Blink 182. I thought their set was effective and heartfelt, and the crowd was shouting and fist pumping along to many of the songs. Still, I wasn’t that disappointed when their set ended.
Strike Anywhere took the stage next, to the joy of the half of the crowd who were there for the punk and not the hardcore. Although I have never been a huge fan of this band, I was at least expecting their sound quality and overall performance to be stellar, since they are such a big deal to so many people. So I was horribly disappointed when their sound was off (the drums were mixed in way louder then everything else and I couldn’t hear any guitar, just drums and vocals), and their energy seemed way down. There were way too many between-song interludes where Barnett touted some political ideology, which seemed unfair to their die-hard fans. They spent a good part of the show talking politics, and lacked the energy that their own supporters brought to the mix.
After this the mood shifted with Pg. 99 coming on to play what was arguably the heaviest music of the night. I like Pg. 99 well enough, and it was really cool to be on stage with them and get blasted by the full intensity of their aural assault. Still, I have always felt that this band is lacking something key to the sound they are trying to encompass. Pg. 99 play chaotic, noisy hardcore/screamo similar to Ceremony and Saetia, but something about their sound is to disjointed and fractured, without the technical skill or songwriting savvy to pull it off. Ceremony are catchy enough to get stuck in your head, and Saetia are clearly all technical music nerds, but Pg. 99 don’t seem to have any of that going for them, and in my opinion that is where they fail. Although their energy was intense and their sound was seeringly heavy yet unmuddied, their-stop start style of playing seemed a bit hard to latch onto, even for the fans in front and the band themselves.
Finally Converge took the stage, which was the attraction I and many other concertgoers had been waiting for. I love Converge, and have never been disappointed by seeing them live or any of their albums, although I have heard people say that they don’t always put on a good show. Although I wasn’t fully disappointed by their performance, they played a few too many straightforward hardcore songs for my liking, coupled with the slowest of slow droney tracks of off the album No Heroes. Like most fans, I think that their Jane Doe-era stuff is their best, and was hoping to hear the title track from that album and some of their other, more-metal influenced stuff. Also, vocalist Jacob Bannon gave 110%, but seemed tired or stressed out, taking the stage in a jacket and sweat shorts and looking a little distracted or irritated the whole time. Still, they executed their set very well and had the whole crowd moving.
Despite the fact that Friday night’s show got the weekend off to a somewhat awkward start, there was enough good music and good cheer to put people in the right mindset for a weekend full of partying, shows, and making friends.
Words by Addison Herron-Wheeler Images by Jake Cunningham