Forest Hills Lodge, August 18, 2005
By Dr. Abner Mality

From the outset, this promised to be a show where adolescent male testosterone would be spewing all over the place like steam from a geyser. And it lived up to expectations. In fact, there was so much high impact posing and brawling in the mosh pit that I seriously hope future metal events at the Lodge are not compromised. Some bad things went down tonight, about which I will say more later.

I arrived early at the Lodge for an interview with Dom of Throwdown, which you can check out in the interview section. While waiting for Dom to finish soundcheck, I got a lot of amusement from watching a lovable pit bull puppy running and playing all over the place. For a breed that has such a ferocious reputation, this fellow was about as menacing as a pillow with legs. Give him a few years, though, and I’m sure he’ll be as puffed up and strutting as some of the clowns in the pit tonight. Kind of an ironic analogy there...

The crowd was pretty good for an all ages show on a school night and local openers Hastings Way got things off to a great start. This band has really improved over the last year and I now have no hesitation in saying they are ready to become leaders of the Rockford scene and more. The sound was crystal clear and the band sounded extremely focused. For the first time, I noticed how good a lot of Hastings Way’s riffs were and how they fitted together so smoothly. I’ll say right now, they were a better band than Remembering Never, who played second to last tonight. This is a good metalcore band that will only improve with time.

I’ll admit, I was a bit prejudiced against Sinai Beach before seeing them tonight. The tracks
I heard from them didn’t really inspire me to think they were anything more than just another bandwagon jumping metalcore band. And yes, in some ways, I think that is still the case. But they wound up being far heavier and more brutal in concert than I would have suspected. I guess the lead singer’s Suffocation T-shirt should have clued me in on that. Though I didn’t detect any REALLY outstanding moments from Sinai’s set, I was impressed by their conviction. And that’s a lot of the battle as far as a hardcore band goes.

The Agony Scene was a bit of a different story. I enjoyed what I had heard of them so far and their take-no-prisoners approach mixing death metal with metalcore is a good one. Even though they looked like fake emocore with eyeliner and black dyed straight hair, they hit with a ferocity in the Slayer category. Blastbeats aplenty from these dudes...they were without doubt the fastest band of the night. But with that speed, they mixed some bone-breaking mosh parts and a fair amount of almost commercial melody. The singer is a maniac....what a throat-ripping scream! And his clean vocals were pretty good,too. Don’t make the mistake of thinking the Agony Scene is another Hot Topic band...these dudes have balls the size of tractor tires.

Before Agony Scene played, there was a real disturbing incident that I caught the tail end of in the parking lot. After returning my trusty tape recorder to my car, I suddenly heard a barrage of obscenities from the entrance of facility. And it wasn’t exactly "Gosh darn it, officer!" or "Oh, for Pete’s Sake!" either. I turned to see a young black guy, who had only bought a ticket a few minutes earlier, being roughly manhandled by the private security. I didn’t see what set off this incident, but I can’t think of anything this guy could do in such a short period of time that would justify the rough treatment. But I hasten to say I DON’T know the whole story and I DIDN’T see what triggered it.

The young guys buddies, all white by the way, which was the race of virtually everybody in the audience, were putting up a passionate defense of their pal. One girl was sobbing in obvious distress. Event promoter Tyler from BTSM was a calming presence, speaking to both the apprehended guy (named Robert) and the security folks. Hats off to him. Finally, handcuffs were released on Robert and he was taken off by police. His buddies were good and riled up, though, and that meant brutality and warfare in the pit for the rest of the night. Things were already hyped up just by the nature of the show incident like this was like putting fire to gasoline.

Never did find out what Robert’s offense was, but a kid in the crowd told me he’d been caught with a small bag of weed. Not a very smart thing to do,if true, but it’s not an offense worthy of being tossed around like a rag doll and handcuffed. Perhaps I’m missing something, but maybe the fact that Robert was black had something to do with his treatment. Once again, I
don’t know the real facts.

Well, I got myself in position right in front of the stage to snap some pics of Remembering Never. Really, this band was not worth the grief I got for taking pics of them. With the mood in the room at the boiling point, I got jumped by some idiot five seconds after the band started to play. I mean, some 150 pound emo fuck with stupid hair and tight pants landed right on top of me. Not only on top of me, but on top of my camera, which was on loan from Thrash-head as well. Not to mention that natty looking "swamp cowboy" hat, which I had picked up only a couple weeks before. Within two seconds of Mr. Kung Fu Hardcore Faggot landing on me, my hat was gone and Thrash’s camera had taken a brutal blow. I was thankfully able to get the hat back and even better, the camera seemed none the worse for the wear. Y’ know, for as tough as these "pit ninjas" are, not one of them got in my way when I walked through the pit. Most of these kids want to make it to 20, they don’t want to piss off a Mad Doctor who looks like he’d love to tear somebody apart.

For both Remembering Never and Throwdown, guys were exiting the pit with bumps, bruises and other battle scars. The security hauled a couple more guys out. Everybody that was pissed about Robert’s situation decided to release their frustrations on somebody else. I can’t really see Remembering Never as much of an instigator. How these guys wound up with the second-to-last slot ahead of The Agony Scene is a mystery to me. Totally generic metalcore, with breakdowns as predictable as the appearance of fat chicks with pigtails at a Marilyn Manson show. It’s not that they are really bad, it’s just that they seem to be stamped out of a mold somewhere. The between song banter of the singer was quite entertaining, actually, and was the highlight of the show, along with a cover of Pantera’s "Stronger Than All". When a cover is your highlight, that’s a statement right there. I will never remember Remembering Never’s set...trite but true.

It’s impossible to describe the power of Throwdown live. Their recordings don’t give a hint at the absolute chest-beating conviction that the band oozes from every pore during a live gig. It has to be felt in person. I’ve seen the band three times now and every time the band just kicks me in the head and makes me feel ten feet tall. Tonight was no was another combination ass-whuppin’/pep rally from the masters of brutal hardcore.

Conviction and intensity is EVERYTHING at a Throwdown show. If their simple music is played without these qualities, it’s throwaway trash, pure and simple. I’ve seen enough bands do it that way. But in the hands of these soldiers, it’s as
energizing as any form of music on the planet. Dave Peters is one of the best frontmen I’ve seen...he’s Anselmo without all the bullshit, he’s Jamey Jasta with even more vein-popping fury. His rough vocals sound typical on, they are a call to action. When accompanied by a band that never stands still and who puts their all into the music, the result is electrifying. The band kills whether they play scorching fast licks or thick, brutal breakdowns. More violent mayhem ensued in the pit...I was tempted to join in, but merely contented myself with headbanging. No need to get Thrash’s camera knocked around any more.

Everybody else tonight paled in comparison to Throwdown. You owe it to yourself to see this band live and find out what true hardcore is all about.

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