Thursday, 16 August 2012

Recap: This Is Hardcore 2012

I’ve now successfully put a few days distance between myself and Philly, PA. Sleep has been caught up on. Bad financial choices, thoroughly regretted. Now that my sea legs have returned and my daily work routine has resumed, I can finally put pen to paper and reflect on my time at This Is Hardcore 2012.

It was repeated from the stage all weekend, but it bears mentioning yet again that Joe Hardcore and his staff deserve a healthy dose of props for the work they put into this thing. Assembling a lineup this extensive is impressive for sure. But taking that lineup and presenting it in a setting that, logistically, can accommodate a crowd of upwards of 3000 while still feeling inviting and intimate is a goddamn achievement to say the least.
I think it’s fair to say that there was ample opportunity there for this shit to be a disaster.  And yet all the elements came together to form what was, I’m sure, a logistical nightmare for the staff but a memorable weekend for us lazy sacks that just had to show up and watch bands.

If the gold here goes to the TIHC staff, then I think a hard earned silver needs to get hung around the neck of the 3000-ish kids of all ages that came out. This crowd soldiered through 4 days and 50 plus bands and was still going strong for Blacklisted on Sunday night. If half the fun of a hardcore show is the kids, then the assembled masses that filled the Union Transfer and the Electric Factory delivered in spades. This gaggle was able to output maximum energy all weekend. And this was after some had, quite literally, traveled half way around the world to be there.

Those LOOKING for nits to pick will always find them. By and large, malcontents will never be completely satisfied anyways, so taking the time to address their concerns is a fool’s errand. Besides, if you actually manage to solve their problems they’ll have nothing to complain about and they’ll have to resort to punching themselves in the balls to get people to pay attention.

This was the first TIHC I’ve attended and I’m already stoked to go back next year.

Like any good nerd, I think the best way to sum up my weekend is with a series of bullet pointed lists in a variety of categories.

Here we go!

5 Favorite Sets:
This is really just an off the top of my head kind of thing. I could swap Floorpunch, Power Trip, H2O, Vision or any number of other bands into this list and be totally satisfied with it.

1- Bane:
I last saw Bane about a year ago at Sneaky Dees. I’m sure Toronto people would agree that, although they host lots of good shows, Sneaky’s is not a great room. The combination of a low stage and a long, narrow space makes it a less than ideal place to see a band. But they still rocked the place and it was great show.

On stage in front of 3000 kids, they brought the same energy that they always do, only with 10 times the total energy coming back at them from the crowd. Hearing that many people scream back the opening to “Can We Start Again?” stands as one of my favorite moments of the weekend. 

There were some vague allusions to this band calling it a career at some point over the next year. All I can say is hardcore would be poorer for Bane being gone.

2- Terror:
I could watch Vogel and them once a week forever and never get sick of it. The energy is always infectious. Nobody is ever happier to be at the Terror show that Scott Vogel, and if his enthusiasm doesn’t bring a smile to your face then I don’t know what to tell you.

This set was as good as I’ve ever seen from them. Once again, the size of the crowd seemed to feed them ample energy and provided the perfect context for these songs.

For once Vogel actually seemed ALMOST satisfied with the quality and quantity of stage dives.

3- Rotting Out:
I’d never managed to see Rotting Out before and they did not disappoint.
I was mostly curious to see how the crowd reaction was for the chorus of “Laugh Now, Die Later.”
The answer: Enthusiastic!

4- Rude Awakening:
I thought RA played a good set. I even made a point of grabbing both of the records they were selling at their booth. What really made this set something special to me though was the mob of MVHC kids they brought out with them. I’d say there were probably 20-30 of them, clad in floral & Hawaiian print shirts, going OFF for the whole set. They even moshed people out the emergency exits at one point. That kind of pride in your local scene, to the point that you travel AND get dressed up is downright heartwarming to me. Good stuff

5- Rival Mob:
I’ve managed to fuck up seeing this band at least twice. It was good to finally get this one crossed off.

5 Favorite Pieces of Merch That I Bought:

This list is subject to change. I bought a lot of stuff.

1- Empire of Cats 7”:
This was funny to me because EOR doesn’t strike me as a terribly light hearted band. But still, here they were selling a completely ridiculous fest only variant of their record. All limited hardcore records should be this fun. The fact that it’s a damn good record doesn’t hurt either.

2- Bane – Tom “Bane” Hardy Shirt:
Here’s another one that I HAD to grab for the sheer silliness of it. I wish they had used the normal BANE font so that it looked less like something you’d buy at Spencer Gifts or whatever. But whatever… It’s a shirt that finally brings together my love of BANE and my love of Bane.

3- Blacklisted – Rocky Shirt:
This may be the MOST Philly thing I bought all weekend.  

4- TIHC Photo Book:
Here’s where This Is Hardcore splashes some cologne on its balls and shows it’s got some class. I really can’t even express how impressed I am by this. I know there will be ample blogs written about this weekend. I know there will be thousands, if not tens of thousands of pictures of the fest scattered across the internet. But this is a FUCKING BOOK! And a damn slick looking one at that.

5- Mindset – EP Collection Deluxe 2X LP Set:
React Records put together a really slick package here. I’m pretty sure all the 2XLP versions had sold out online, so I was stoked to get my hands on this. It comes with both EPs on a really pretty looking piece of red & black vinyl AND the “Liveset” LP. I’d been meaning to buy a bunch of Mindset records for a while now… mission accomplished!

5 Pieces of Merch That I WISH I’d Bought:

Granted, I spent way more than enough money over the weekend. I’m just saying, I could have spent more.

1- Empire of Rats – Bernie Mac: “I Wish a Motherfucker Would” Shirt:
I didn’t buy this right off the bat because I couldn’t think of a context where it would be OK for me to wear it. By the time I decided that I didn’t care… they were gone.

2- Power Trip – Kool-Aid Shirt:
Power Trip didn’t have any shirts out when I went to buy records. Once I noticed people wearing these, I couldn’t find where they’d gotten them. That one was tough.

3- Crown of Thornz Shirt:
These sold out in about 5 minutes. I know they’re still selling them online, but it’s just not the same.

4- A GOOD Rival Mob Shirt:
I spent all weekend keeping an eye out for Rival Mob stuff. And then, the SECOND I let my guard down… Out comes all the merch! By the time I got over to the booth, all that was left was the Mob Justice tape, which I needed, and the white “Revelation Records Flyer” shirt. I panicked and bought that. It’s a pretty lame design. Totally wish I’d gotten there faster because I liked EVERY other shirt I saw for the rest of the weekend more than the one I got.

5- TAPES!!!:
Somehow tapes weren’t even on my radar for the first 2 days of the fest. It’s like I forgot they even existed. As a result, I ended up getting a few (Rival Mob, Agitator, WW4 Demo) but missed out on a bunch that I meant to get. Specifically: the Mindset Promo, the Build and Destroy Demo, Stick Together Live in Toronto… I have to stop I’m getting mad just thinking about it. Seriously, if anyone bought a bunch of tapes and wants to sell some of them, email me.

2 Most Pleasant Surprises:

1- Twitching Tongues:
I’ve tried to get into this band a few time and I could never quite get there. After seeing them live for the first time, I came away convinced. I grabbed the EP they were selling and I’ll try to grab the LP over the weekend.

2- Oathbreaker:
FUCK! Just… Jesus.

I think I had Oathbreaker confused with another band, because I was not prepared for how intense these guys were. The woman they have singing has got a hell of a scream on her. I mean that literally, by the way, she sounds like a demon sent from hell.

Within about 30 seconds, I went from not really paying attention to being totally engrossed.

So heavy. So good.

The Only 2 Sets I Didn’t Enjoy:

1- Gehenna:
I really, REALLY hate it when a band criticizes the crowd for not seeming into what they’re doing. It’s just something that has always bugged me. I don’t think Gehenna was exactly the best fit for the rest of the lineup. They’re certainly a fine band, but after 3 days of breakdowns and sing-a-longs I’m not sure a PV/grind band was ever gonna be able get people going successfully.

2- Suicidal Tendencies:
I’m sure I’ll take some shit for this one.
I was never overly stoked on seeing these guys, but I stuck around out of curiosity and because I wanted to see “Institutionalized…” and then it took me until the first chorus to realize when they were playing it. It’s a pretty distinctive song… but somehow it just sounded wrong.
That being said, ST has never really been my particular brand of vodka, so it’s entirely possible that I have no idea what I’m talking about.

And… 5 More Things:

1- The competitive parking guys were awesome! We spent a solid hour in line on Friday watching them and they were never not funny. “Make a LEFT!” “Back up!” “Go back to Viginia!”

2- I forget the name of the truck, but I had the best hot dog ever at this fest. It had bacon and tomato on it along with some kind of creamy sauce. Fuck me, it was so good.

3- The TIHC App was really good. Warped Tour, with all their resources, put together an app that more or less useless. I used the schedule on the app all weekend and photo pit section was super fun, even though I couldn’t really use it until I got back to the hotel every night because of how much data roaming costs.

4- Speaking of the hotel… Our hotel REALLY hated hardcore kids. I guess they had problems in the past, but it was kinda nuts as a 30 year old, gainfully employed, PAYING customer to get treated like a problem waiting to happen. It was funny how many extra security guys they brought on when all sorts of tattooed miscreants started checking in and they realized that it was This Is Hardcore weekend.

5- I was so relieved to see so many older people there. I was seriously concerned that I would be pushing it by attending at 31. Thankfully, I’m now confidant I can keep going to these things for years to come without it being sad.

I think that about covers it. It feels like I have about a million other things to add, but the whole weekend was such a blur of awesome that I couldn’t really do it justice. This whole thing was just a complete success. I’ve heard the sentiment from a few places that the fest reminded them of why they fell in love with hardcore in the first place. I agree with that completely.

Oh… It rained on Friday. I didn’t really care for that.   

Let’s try to tighten up the whole weather situation for next year, shall we?

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