United Blood 2010

by | Mar 31, 2010 | MUSIC

Somebody recently told me that hardcore is dead. Through chipped teeth and bruised bones, I will promise you it is not.

I turned a corner into an alley on 18th street this past Friday afternoon to find a considerable crowd gathered together for the same purpose. The place: Alleykatz; the purpose: United Blood, Richmond’s fourth annual hardcore festival.

Gritty as hell and DIY to the core, United Blood gathers hardcore fans from all over the country, even as far as Europe and Asia, for two days of undeniably fun chaos, the realest kind of unity I’ve ever seen, and of course, skull-rattling, gut-pumping music.

Somebody recently told me that hardcore is dead. Through chipped teeth and bruised bones, I will promise you it is not.

I turned a corner into an alley on 18th street this past Friday afternoon to find a considerable crowd gathered together for the same purpose. The place: Alleykatz; the purpose: United Blood, Richmond’s fourth annual hardcore festival.

Gritty as hell and DIY to the core, United Blood gathers hardcore fans from all over the country, even as far as Europe and Asia, for two days of undeniably fun chaos, the realest kind of unity I’ve ever seen, and of course, skull-rattling, gut-pumping music.

Bracewar chaos

rival mob

Now I myself am not a dedicated hardcore fan, but I believe that good is good, and these truly were some of the best hardcore bands in the country. The first band I caught was Alpha and Omega from Los Angeles, CA. A rhythm section that reverberates straight up the spine, guitar tones straight out of hell, and a front man with a snarl like a kick in the teeth made this band the perfect introduction to an awe-inspiring weekend. Notables included hard-as-nails War Hungry and lightweight bad-asses Title Fight, both from Pennsylvania, as well as local heroes Swamp Thing, Naysayer and Wasted Time, and Boston’s resident nutcases The Rival Mob. The dual headliners were Connecticut’s Death Threat and New York’s hardcore veterans Madball.

Madball Frontman

cruel hand image

paint it black drummer

I got a chance to talk with Collin Ackerman, co-founder of United Blood (along with David Foster, a native Richmonder now located in PA), and he had this to say:

Me: When did you start United Blood?

Collin: In 2007, it started small. The headliners were DTN, Bracewar, and Have Heart. It was just a small little thing. It’s probably doubled since we started. The past two years, we’ve had over 800 people.

Me: How did this thing come about?

Collin: There’s a fest in PA called Posinumbers, one of Foster’s friends, Bob Mac, was running it, and it stopped happening a couple years ago. We figured “There’s no reason we shouldn’t have this here, Richmond’s a great town and we have a great spot for it. Let’s try it and see what happens.” We just took a shot and it worked. Without Foster, though, there wouldn’t be this thing. Foster and I pretty much split everything up, doing our own paypal accounts for ticketing, booking all the bands, getting food and contracts for the bands, all of the promotions and everything

Me: So everything was pretty DIY, huh?

Collin:
Yeah, no sponsors. We made a pact four years ago that we’d never have sponsors, we do everything ourselves and with the help of our friends, of course. It affects my life a lot, I meet kids from all over the world that I would never meet otherwise. All I care about is that people are having fun, I probably get made fun of for asking everybody that so much.

Me: What about the connotations that hardcore can be violent and hateful?

Collin: Honestly, it’s aggressive just like any other art form can be, but nobody has any bad intentions for the most part. Nobody’s out to get anybody, it’s just about getting what’s inside of you out. I don’t think it’s any different from Slaughterama or Best Friend’s Day, which I love and go to. In all four years, we’ve had maybe one fight, but fights happen at Beach Boys concerts too.

Me: Anything else to say?

Collin: Thanks to everybody that comes out and has fun, thanks to all the bands, thanks to you guys for covering it. I want everybody to have the opportunity to get exposure to things they don’t normally see. And check out Vinyl Conflict Records, that dude hooked us up a lot this year.

bassist war hungry

All weekend, what I was really overcome by, and Collin touched on it as well, was how positive and community driven of an event United Blood is. One would look at the rolling, growling mass of tattoos and black eyes with abject horror, until noticing that for every one person that fell, there were two or three raising them back up. Between songs and sets there was a smile on almost every face, a real “I’m just so fucking happy to be here” smile. Another little thing that struck me was that every band that I saw perform was sporting the t-shirt of another band at the festival, as well as giving shout outs to all the other bands, small but inspiring. People came from all over the country to see their friends, have a great time, and support something that they all care very much about. This, my friends, is what I call love.

wasted time

Towards the end of the last set that I saw, I looked down at the pit and knew I had one thing left to do before my experience was complete. I handed off my camera to a friend and shouted something inaudible that probably sounded like “fuck you dad!” as I dove into the crowd. I lasted about twenty seconds before my entire world exploded momentarily. Intentional or not, I got rocked in the face so hard that I can only imagine it looked like a UFC highlight reel. After crumpling like a pile of rags, I jumped back to my feet and into the fray, trying to ignore my wobbly-knees and what I thought to be sand in my mouth (it was actually tiny tooth fragments). In retrospect, the guy that gave me my first black eye in years probably thought I was some asshole nube, which is fair enough on his part, but to me, getting knocked the fuck out was equal to a firm shake of the hand and a “welcome to the club.”

For those of you that still haven’t been to United Blood, I will say that like it or not, hardcore is a part of Richmond’s identity, and it’s well worth the price of admission to see what locals and out of towners alike have put so much time, effort, and care into creating. I am truly stoked to live in a town that produces the kind of diversity that exists in our art and music scene. To those that did make it this year, I’ll see y’all at United Blood 5.

swamp thing griffin

title fight

P.S. I’d like to say thank you to all the bands (every single one, not just those mentioned above), photographers, staff, fans, and of course Alleykatz for putting on such a great show and making this such a memorable event, you really exemplify what true dedication and hard work is all about, while still having a fucking good time. Don’t forget to check our Flickr feed for more great pictures from the show, click here for a full list of the bands at this years United Blood Fest.

RVA Staff

RVA Staff

Since 2005, the dedicated team at RVA Magazine, known as RVA Staff, has been delivering the cultural news that matters in Richmond, VA. This talented group of professionals is committed to keeping you informed about the events and happenings in the city.




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