It is 10 AM the day after Day One of the Fest, and my body and my mind are reeling.
What I did, essentially, was stand alone in the back area of Soundstage Baltimore from 3pm-10pm and watch bands play.
I imagine this was disappointing to the venue owners, who wanted me to purchase alcohol or a “mocktail” or a bottled water (no free water). I knew I could not bring my own water, having been forewarned that the security was “thorough”. I saw a skateboarder being told his transportation to the show was not allowed to be brought into the show. I saw a (legal) weed holder asked to put that back in their car, please.
If this was a metal, bluegrass, or Indie Rock show, I don’t think commenting on the above would be of note; just the business of running a venue. But this is a hardcore show.
My relationship with hardcore punk goes back a long time. I first saw H20, one the day’s major attractions, at the first DC-area “Super Bowl of Hardcore” in 1996. As I heard many frontspeople welcome the new young people but also encourage them to learn about the history of the music and the culture, I myself feel, as always, like I need to learn more. My attraction to hardcore had to do with a wielding of extreme music with a firm ideology. There was a principled way to live your life. It wasn’t all just chaos (what I initially dug, the speed and the music going off the rails, like the guitar playing on “Filler”). But the principles you choose are up to you. Think about that and decide for yourself. Each song represents what one person (or one band) came up with as part of that eternal internal and external conversation, thought leading to action.
So, with that written, imagine the above was the person at the hardcore show reading off who the show was a benefit for and highlighting upcoming events and actions of note organized by the same group. Also know that I was a little bugged that this wasn’t the frame of the event, and all “frames” matter at a hardcore show. In any case, Ticketmaster did not get up and thank me for their ridiculous and unnecessary “fee” for the tickets and explain what they were going towards.
Anyways… on with the show. Here are some highlights from the whirlwind heat and flash. Gasket was the first band to play. I have been meaning to see them for some time, and they did not disappoint. Buggin’ was great, noting that this was their “annual show” in Baltimore; I know at least one band drove from the Chicago area to play and were then heading straight back. When Section H8 took the stage, the whole venue shifted, the show entering a higher gear, like they were about to possess a rare “LA hardcore” Pokémon card. Jivebomb had that “back from tour/ back home” energy in full effect; this was my first time seeing them and they did not disappoint. Outburst were very much from Queens, irascible but lovable, representing the energy of the hardcore scene I remember from my younger days. H2O were as good in 2024 as they were in 1996.
And then, of course, Day One ended with End It, the hometown favorites bringing their particular brand of live show at a point in the night where everyone, after hours of being exhorted to move up, mosh, two-step, circle pit, and storm the stage, were ready to, and boy… did they. The amazing tightrope act that Akil pulls off, reacting in the moment, conversing with the crowd, while still delivering all the things a frontperson should in a hardcore band, is key to the whole thing not just ending in a ditch. The band also runs “defense”, straight up knocking the umpteenth stagediver back into the pit if they overstay their welcome. End It brung it and shut the night down properly, straight up.
And now, Day Two. Or should I type… Day Two? I honestly do not know if I am going to make it to the second day of Disturbin’ the Peace. As a Baltimorean, I know it is foolish to attempt to go downtown during the first AFC championship game held in this city in over fifty years. Do I attempt to go in solidarity with Seven Seconds, an act of defiance against the headwinds? Or do I go to see how many 2024 hardcore fans are also football fans, witnessing what decision they make about seeing their favorite band or the big game?
Again, all the above things would not be not worth mentioning if I was going to the Shrek Rave. But this is a hardcore show.
Will I make it? Tune in next time to find out.