Right here’s a state of affairs that I want everybody may expertise no less than as soon as: It’s a sunny day in Richmond, Virginia, and the warmth is unrelenting. You’re strolling down the road in a closely gentrified neighborhood filled with good eating places and residences that you just in all probability couldn’t afford. You come throughout a comparatively massive and clear and well-appointed nightclub — the place the place I took my daughter to see Seashore Bunny final 12 months, the place the place the Mountain Goats will play the following time they’re on the town. It’s bought actual air-con and modern concrete flooring and a formidable array of beers on faucet, and it’s not normally open this time of day. You stroll in, and also you’re instantly greeted by the sound of Protocol, a Tallahassee band that appears to exist largely to play in dirty, mildewy punk-house basements. It’s disorienting to see a band like that on an precise stage, with lights that flash completely different colours and every little thing. This membership isn’t Protocol’s pure habitat. For simply this sooner or later, although, they’re at dwelling, and so are you.
One of many issues that I like about music festivals is attending to see acts taking part in on a lot greater phases, to a lot bigger crowds, than they’re used to seeing. That occurs on the big festivals, when child bands get their first style of one thing resembling fame, even when they’re taking part in at midday to largely empty fields. And it occurs, in a special kind of manner, at punk festivals, the place 19 completely different bands are presupposed to play 15-minute units on a single stage in a single day. That’s what occurred final month in Richmond, when the first-ever Large Takeover pageant got here to city.
For greater than a decade, Richmond was dwelling to United Blood, an essential annual occasion on this planet of down-the-middle mosh-it-up hardcore. I by no means went. The last-ever United Blood went down in 2019, and Floorpunch and Merauder, two foundational East Coast tough-guy bands from the ’90s, had been the headliners. In 2020, Converge and Chilly World had been set to headline, and I’d determined that I used to be going to cease fucking round and soar into this factor with each toes. The present was scheduled for just a few weeks after COVID swept in and shut every little thing down, and in these disorienting early days, this cancellation was the factor that pissed me off probably the most. (I used to be like: “It’s capitalism’s fault!” Don’t ask me to reconstruct that logic.) After that complete factor, the organizers of United Blood determined that they’d had sufficient, and the pageant was no extra. Richmond is considered one of America’s nice hardcore cities, and the tip of United Blood left a vacuum. Large Takeover is what stepped in to fill it.
Large Takeover is the brainchild of Ace Stallings, a Richmond scene linchpin who helped e-book the previous few United Bloods and who now not lives in Richmond. Regardless that he moved throughout the nation within the months earlier than the fest, Ace nonetheless bought along with Sam Yarmuth, founding father of Triple B Data, to place collectively a weekend that was very completely different from United Blood in each scope and persona. Large Takeover occurred in three venues throughout two nights. The primary of these nights occurred two days after Ace’s band Mutually Assured Destruction launched Ascension, an absolute motherfucker of a debut album, and it additionally occurred on Ace’s birthday. Herding dozens of bands isn’t how I might select to have a good time my birthday, however that’s why I’m me and he’s him.
It is a huge oversimplification, however one of many huge causes that Ascension guidelines so onerous is that Mutually Assured Destruction are hardcore dudes taking part in steel. Ascension has Lamb Of God’s Randy Blythe displaying up on visitor vocals and songs that break the five-minute barrier. It has huge, nasty riffs, and it has shredding. It’s top-shelf stoner music from individuals who, so far as I can inform, aren’t stoners. (Ace is certainly straight edge.) Ace is aware of down-the-middle hardcore in addition to anybody, however he’s into different issues, too, and the primary Large Takeover was an try to current a larger united heavy-music panorama to the world.
Loads of hardcore bands performed the fest, however the lineup additionally had room for scuzzy living-room punk and straight-up excessive steel and loads of stuff that blurs traces amongst these classes. For me, one of many highlights of the entire thing was Violent Manner, a trio of Buffalo skinheads who play bouncy, catchy singalong oi and who bought an elated response with a really late Friday-night set. The band’s frontman tried to get individuals to fill within the horseshoe pit by telling the gang that they’re “not a fucking hardcore band,” however they nonetheless bought a hardcore band’s welcome. Folks couldn’t wait to leap on one another’s heads to that shit.
Sonic range is usually a tough factor in the case of hardcore, a style the place small variations matter. However these exhibits actually did soar round in some cool methods. I’m not a loss of life steel or grindcore man. I skipped grind legends Terrorizer, the headliners of the entire occasion, as a result of I used to be drained and I didn’t assume there was any manner they may very well be higher than Mindforce, the band who performed proper earlier than them. However DC’s No/Mas, a grind band who play tremendous fucking quick in a manner that is sensible at a hardcore present, had been a little bit of a revelation, and there’s no manner I might’ve seen them in the event that they hadn’t been booked at this fest.
The sonic outliers that I favored one of the best had been the basement-punk bands — the bands whose data are sometimes reverbed-out and lo-fi however who hit complete new vitality ranges stay. Bib, from Omaha, costume like mystic hippies, however they play quick and frantic and guttural; I used to be virtually levitating throughout their set. New Jersey’s Gel may’ve been even higher — a heaving, gasping runaway rock ‘n’ roll beast of a band that turns primal simplicity right into a weapon.
On a weekend crammed filled with bands, it helps to have a lead singer who can stand out as a performer. This is the reason you not often see hardcore bands the place the singers additionally play devices. They should be on the market, shifting round, doing the factor. Ace Stallings himself is a vivid, bodily presence onstage. He’s excited to be there, and that ought to be sufficient to make you excited to be there. Some bands, like Boston’s C4 and Baltimore’s Finish It, have frontmen who’re simply full-on characters. C4 has an enormous, mean-looking fucker who by no means stopped rocking the hoodie/bandana/Tims ensemble even on a day that was scorching as balls and who grunted about “fuck Jimmy Butler” in a steel voice between songs. Finish It has Akil Godsey, an absolute pressure of nature. As Finish It took the stage, Fleetwood Mac’s “Landslide” performed over the home audio system, and Akil sang together with the entire thing, fantastically, earlier than launching into the band’s first minute-long tantrum. He additionally made a number of suicide jokes and claimed that his band’s set could be “the worst quarter-hour of your life.” I want.
Nevertheless it wasn’t obligatory for the bands on the Large Takeover to have outsized-character singers as a result of it wasn’t actually obligatory for bands to face out. There was a way that everybody was in it collectively. The pageant didn’t go in line with plan as a result of it couldn’t go in line with plan; there was simply no manner. A few the California bands on the invoice, Useless Warmth and Spy, needed to cancel on the final minute as a result of aircraft tickets had simply gotten too costly, and no person was mad about them lacking the present. Everybody understood. Judiciary, from Texas, did handle to make it, and so they performed a head-buster set though journey hassles meant that completely no person within the band slept the evening earlier than. The truth that they made it, getting by way of all that for what I can’t think about was a significant payday, made their set that rather more particular. (Anticipate the astronomical surge in gasoline costs and air-travel prices to wreak havoc on the DIY-touring economic system within the months forward. When a band you want does come to your city, you higher fucking go see them whilst you nonetheless can.)
Competition chaos led to a few of the weekend’s finest moments, too. On the late-night warehouse present, I discovered myself dropping observe of which band was which, since so many unannounced acts jumped on on the final minute. Ideation, from Florida, weren’t on the invoice, however they nonetheless had the room exploding with their Agnostic Entrance cowl. On the huge present on Friday, Richmond OGs Naysayer used the devices from fellow locals Downfall to play a livid spur-of-the-moment shock set. They didn’t have time to observe beforehand, and so they didn’t even have all of the members of the band there, however that they had sufficient mates who knew the right way to play their songs that they had been capable of toss something collectively. They fucking ripped it, too.
Right here’s one thing that I haven’t correctly disclosed on this column: I’m probably not a mosher. I like the vitality of a pit, however I’m additionally an outdated man who values his bodily security a bit an excessive amount of. My normal transfer is to face close to the pit, so I can take up the occasional errant limb and really feel the chaos roiling round me with out worrying an excessive amount of that I’m about to die. (The final time I pulled off a stage dive, I used to be in ninth grade. I’m a huge human being, and no person wants to interrupt my fall.) After two days of the pageant, although, I used to be carried out with avoiding the storm. Two of my favourite bands had been taking part in close to the highest of the invoice on Saturday, and I made up my thoughts that I used to be getting in there.
Richmond’s personal Division Of Thoughts are masters of towering sinister crunch, and I like them with out reservation. Once they performed, I’d blown no less than a utility invoice on band merch, considering I may go dump it in my automobile earlier than studying that the membership had a no-reentry coverage after a sure level within the night. So I used to be in there, simply flailing round with an enormous grip of T-shirts, doing my finest to look imply. I had this concept that if I planted my toes and believed with all my coronary heart that I belonged there, no person would instantly try to kick me within the throat or something. I’m an enormous man, proper? A man who you may not kick within the throat for no motive? Nicely, I didn’t get kicked within the throat — no person’s that limber — however I did take a fairly good backfist to the clavicle inside two songs. It nonetheless damage the following day, however I wasn’t even remotely mad. Didn’t go away, both. Caught just a few extra elbows right here and there. That’s a part of it. When you get into the suitable headspace, it’s genuinely enjoyable to soak up a few pictures and preserve going.
For me, and doubtless for an entire lot of different individuals within the room, the spotlight of the weekend arrived when the Hudson Valley’s Mindforce, an ideal band, took the stage. I can’t inform you an excessive amount of about what occurred throughout Mindforce’s set. It’s all a blur. I can inform you that my coronary heart grows three sizes every time I hear “Excalibur.” I’d been ready a very long time to scream that tune in a room full of individuals, and it felt like a promise fulfilled. I may also inform you that one man bought down on all fours within the pit and that his buddy then took an enormous operating leap off of his again and into the gang on the skin of the pit — full-on Hardy Boyz crowdkilling. Craziest factor I’ve seen at a present in I don’t know the way lengthy. Breathtaking shit.
Earlier than the Large Takeover, I hadn’t been at any sort of punk pageant in additional than 4 years. A pageant like that may be a lot. It’s a full-immersion expertise, and it may be a bit overwhelming. Returning to on a regular basis boring-dad life after the fest was an adjustment. I didn’t hearken to an excessive amount of hardcore within the days after the fest, and I didn’t even go see Turnstile in DC every week later. (I want I’d had sufficient gasoline within the proverbial tank for that present. The reviews from the Turnstile present have been rapturous. You’ve simply bought to know your limits.) However when you care sufficient about this music — and when you’ve learn this far down within the column, you clearly do — you then owe it to your self to make the pilgrimage, no less than as soon as, to Sound & Fury or LDB or FYA or This Is Hardcore or one of many many different multi-day extravaganzas that this world has to supply. A pageant like that may be a dedication, and it’s price it.
Amygdala – “Darvo”
DARVO is a authorized technique that stands for “deny, assault, and reverse sufferer and offender.” For those who’ve carried out some foul shit, then your attorneys are utilizing DARVO once they flip issues round and make it appear like your sufferer is admittedly victimizing you. This technique can work; all of us simply noticed it occur with Johnny Depp and Amber Heard. It’s some disgusting bullshit. San Antonio’s Amygdala are top-of-the-line heavy bands going no less than partially as a result of they’re geniuses at conveying disgust. They’ve been prepared for this second. [From Besitos Para Todos Mis Haters two-song single, out now on Disquera Del Barrio.]
Finish It – “New Wage Slavery”
Look: Baltimore has its issues. Watch We Personal This Metropolis and also you may get the sense that Baltimore is a damaged system that may by no means be fastened. You is likely to be proper, too. However Baltimore can also be the best metropolis on this planet. Akil Godsey may’ve by no means come from anyplace else. Neither, for that matter, may the legend Justice Tripp, who company on this specific ripper. I may come from Saskatchewan, and I might nonetheless really feel like my blood is on hearth after I hear this. However I come from Baltimore, and let me inform you, this shit hits extremely onerous. [From Unpleasant Living EP, out 7/8 on Flatspot Records.]
Closing Gasp – “Homebound”
Closing Gasp performed the Large Takeover fest, and I didn’t point out them as soon as on this complete long-ass piece as a result of they nearly appeared someway separate from the factor, like I used to be swept away to a different place whereas they had been taking part in. Closing Gasp come from Boston and play gothed-out metallic-chug shit that sounds nearly precisely like Samhain, so it’s not like they didn’t belong. However on a present the place theatricality was briefly provide, the place each single particular person in each band in all probability both holds down a day job or is just too unemployable to carry down a day job, these motherfuckers all got here out onstage in black denims, no shirts, coated in faux blood. It’s a pure gimmick, however the gimmick is so cool. “Homebound” appears like a tune made by guys coated in faux blood, so it clearly guidelines. [From Homebound two-song single, out now on Tribe Dream Records.]
Foreseen – “Oppression Fetish”
A lot of bands have spent the previous few years messing round with ’80s crossover thrash sounds and imagery. I like lots of these bands, however most of them don’t make me really feel like I’m skateboarding down the face of a collapsing skyscraper as alien craft loss of life rays immolate your entire metropolis behind me. Finnish monsters Foreseen, although? They do this, and so they nearly make it look straightforward. [From Oppression Fetish, out later this year on Quality Control HQ.]
Gillian Carter – “Stop attempting. You failed.”
I proceed to imagine that hardcore and screamo are basically the identical factor, even when they don’t really need something to do with one another and even when screamo could be gratingly pretentious and hardcore could be gratingly allergic to perceived pretension. Orlando’s Gillian Carter are a band, not an individual, and that alone might be pretentious sufficient to trouble an entire lot of hardcore heads. However they’re a sick-ass fucking band, and it is a sick-ass fucking tune. That ought to be sufficient. That chug? There’s nothing post-anything about that chug. [From Songs Of Summer two-song single, self-released, out now.]
Iron Deficiency – “Locked In”
I can’t think about that it’s straightforward to be straight edge anyplace. (I don’t know as a result of I by no means tried it.) Nevertheless it’s bought to be particularly onerous to be straight edge in France, a spot the place, as I perceive it, they begin feeding you pink wine whenever you’re within the womb. Perhaps that’s why Iron Deficiency sound so fucking offended. Perhaps that’s additionally why this makes me really feel like I may punch a gap within the solar. [From Promo 2022, out now on Patient Zero Records.]
Life’s Query – “Mellow My Thoughts”
What number of hardcore bands have managed to determine a wonderfully ugly squeedling guitar sound? Not many. Loads of hardcore bands have ugly guitar sounds, however that’s largely not intentional. With a few of the riffage on “Mellow My Thoughts,” Life’s Query, from Chicago, enter the Mindforce zone. I like how the guttural breakdown on this one will get simply barely psychedelic however nonetheless makes me really feel like I bought kicked within the abdomen so onerous that I’m choking again vomit. [From The World Is…, out 8/8 on Triple B Records.]
Uncooked Brigade – “Latinos”
You’ll be able to nonetheless write an anthem. Nothing’s stopping you. No one’s too good for anthem. Colombia’s Uncooked Brigade aren’t a really unique band. They preserve every little thing in unadulterated early-’80s ripshit mode, and so they deliver extreme disgust to a phrase like “dwelling in society.” That fucking rocks. An anthem doesn’t need to be groundbreaking to work, particularly if it’s an anthem for a few of the huge numbers of people that didn’t essentially get their very own hardcore anthems within the early ’80s. There have been tons of Latino bands in early-’80s hardcore, however I can’t consider any of them that particularly made anthems about being Latino. Uncooked Brigade aren’t scared to do precisely that. [From Aggressive City, out now on Cash Only Records.]
Speedway – “Steadiness”
It’s a bit complicated that we’ve bought one worldwide hardcore band known as Pace and one other one known as Speedway and that they’ve each bought new music out this month. However the two bands each stomp ass, and so they sound nothing like one another, so I assume we’ll all get used to it. You don’t have select between Pace, from Sydney, and Speedway, from Stockholm. However Speedway go for that melodic Turning Level youth crew sound, and that virtually at all times works for me. You could possibly in all probability persuade me that “Steadiness” was a brand new One Step Nearer tune, and I may at all times use a brand new One Step Nearer tune, whether or not or not it truly comes from One Step Nearer. [From Paradise EP, out now on Revelation Records.]
Sunami – “Faux Blood”
I might like to inform you how this tune sounds, however I can’t. Each time I play it, I magically rework right into a gorilla. I lose all facility for spoken language past belches and screeches. (I do know a few indicators, which appears to actually impress everybody, however I don’t know the signal for “this tune, graaaaagh, play once more.”) I lurch round my workplace on my knuckles, foraging for bamboo shoots to eat. I throw books within the air and scare my cats. I style tough instruments out of bark. Folks marvel at my bodily power and my silent dignity, and so they launch charitable efforts to guard me from poachers and deforestation. It fucking guidelines. [From LP Promo, out now on Triple B Records/DAZE.]