So as I get to the end of this strange freak out, the unholy glory of the festival started to grow on me. Sure, hardcore isn’t my trip, but there is certainly something to be honored here. These bands are trying hard, working shitty jobs, and doing the best they can so that they can go out on the road and share what they love with their fans. What more can I really demand of any band other than that they try to reach out to fans and give them something to live for? It was a triumphant realization to start the day as I muddled my way through University City trying to find the train station. This would be a long and dull train ride, but I knew in the long run it should be worth it.
To be completely honest, by this point festival fatigue was kicking in and I couldn’t feel the music at this point. In fact, I found out I would have to leave after 4 to attend my fathers birthday dinner. I only remember four bands from this day, even though I’m pretty sure I saw at least five. Regardless, I have some wonderful memories, of hanging out with friends, partying and generally reveling in the final minutes of what is possibly the most significant hardcore festival on the continent.
World War 4 were vicious and soul searing. There brand of hardcore is not one that is easily forgotten. Punks jumped all over the singer, and yet somehow he stood firm. This is the kind of strength that hardcore gives to mankind, the ability to stand up and shout, even when a half dozen skinny teenagers are jumping all over you. As the band wrapped up with the track also titled World War 4 I felt strangely comforted. There was something fun and peace inspiring about the speed and gore of World War 4, it left me feeling satisfied, realizing that if nothing else, this band could guide me on my way forward in my own quest for balance.
Harms Way stormed the stage next, their singer is simply ripped. His vocals are gruesome and powerful roaring out of some deeper cavern within himself. Its the sort of skull crunching attack that I’m not sure I’d ever be able to deliver with my own music. The bands bassist seems to get really into it. His bass flies around his neck as he storms across the stage. If nothing else, Harms Way certainly understand how to bring the triumphant energy of hardcore to the stage. Kids danced, and sure, I still think that’s stupid, but the outpouring of energy that came from the crowd during their set was impressive and made me realize how much fun and how cool hardcore can be.
Now it was time for the band who I had most wanted to see today. (Considering I had to leave early, Power Trip was no longer an option) Suburban Scum are the kind of band who do a split with Xibalba and come out as the best band on the split, and that’s saying something. They simply tore the stage apart, I was overwhelmed with the incredible hatred this band spewed. This is what hardcore is all about, heavy hitting riffs and a singer who spits out gruesome lines about society at a breakneck speed. I felt almost obliged to take a break after their set because of the oppressive heaviness of their sound, so I stepped out, knowing these guys would be one of the last bands I would see at the festival.
While I walked around the grounds for the last time I spoke to Michael Arellano and wished him well, I’m not going to see him for a few months, but hopefully he will come back soon with M.O.D. I spoke to my new friend Casey, a local hardcore booker, he’s a young straight edge guy who I might just be able to trust even though he doesn’t drink. We had a bond there, realizing that Billy Milano was right when he said “It doesn’t matter how you wear your hair, it’s what’s inside your head.” Despite our difference in subculture and fundamental disagreements on alcohol we still get along. Perhaps Casey put it best when he said “I don’t do drugs, so I eat a lot of mozzarella sticks”
Turnstile played then. I can’t honestly say I remember much of their set other than that it was fast and proud. It left me realizing the glories of hardcore, the kind of things that I had only glimpsed earlier. This was the hardcore magic at work. I may never cut my hair, but at least now I have a much greater respect for my hardcore cousins. I’m an alcoholic, they’re teetotallers. I crush people in the pit, they swing their arms and go crazy. Yet, we are all family, extreme music fans who just want change, relief from the oppressive world that holds them back. This is hardcore, this is the sound of freedom.