Power Trip, Die Young (TX), Afflictive Nature, etc. Walters December 7, 2013
It may have been cold as hell outside in downtown Houston on Saturday night, but it was hot and sweaty as all getout inside Walters. Scene kids from all over the city and state packed into the club for Fallcore 13, Hatetank Productions' annual throwdown celebrating Texas' hardest of the hardcore.
Thanks to the freakishly frigid weather, not everyone was able to make it to the party. Icy roads kept Midland's Ivy League TX from making the trip down Highway 71, and even local favorites Will to Live had to bow out of the proceedings when their drummer found himself stuck in Flatonia, of all places. Those who arrived alive, however, came bound and determined to make up for the excused absences by having as much wild and violent fun as was allowed by law. Possibly more.
By the time San Antonio's Afflictive Nature took to the club's small stage, the fest had already been raging for nearly six hours, forcing many in the increasingly sweaty crowd to strip off their beloved hoodies lest they expire from the heat. The band's metallic stomp kept the audience active, with indestructible youngsters carelessly cartwheeling off stage into the teeth of their fellow scenesters.
Classic pogoing, shoving and circle-pitting are the order of the day when Walters plays host to classic hardcore bands like Black Flag, MDC and their aged ilk, but "modern" hardcore shows such as Fallcore are a different story. There was more bad kung fu on display in the middle of the club's wide-open floor than you'll find in a dozen Jackie Chan flicks, with more sedate fans keeping one eye on the stage and another on the pit lest they take a misplaced heel-kick to the nards.
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All that windmilling and floor-punching is old hat by now to Die Young (TX), Houston's newly reformed hardcore road warriors who arrived at Fallcore ready to play their first gig together in an Olympiad. Led by front man Rev. White Devil, the band sounded fiercely well-rehearsed, deploying bone-crunching riffs far tighter than any others on the bill.
"We took about four years off, and I swear we didn't think we'd ever do this again," said the Reverend, clearly happy to be back in action after spending a year exiled in Philadelphia.
Die Young returned with tunes old and new, from the brand-new track "Chosen Path" to "The Renaissance," one from its first demo in 2002. Ninety-eight percent of the floor was ceded to the two percent swinging hammerfists, with the older and wimpier majority of the crowd sticking close to the walls in order to stay out of harm's way during punishing songs like "Alive With Madness."
If you've never seen a Die Young mosh pit, well, it's a bit hard to describe. At your average punk or metal show, the pitters all bounce of each other in a sweaty melee of knees and elbows. Only in a hardcore pit do the participants seem to actively avoid one another, preferring to stake out their own little spot in which to swing their limbs around as spastically as possible. It's out of necessity, really: despite the ferociously violent nature of their dancing, nobody particularly wants to accidentally punch somebody in the face.
It usually happens anyway at some point, of course, but if anyone was seriously hurt or bloodied on Saturday night, I didn't see it. If someone did, in fact, go home with missing incisors that night, though, I can pretty much guarantee they lost 'em during the headlining set by Power Trip, the Dallas thrashcore titans playing their first gig back in the Great State after touring Europe with Bane.
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Walters immediately devolved into pure mayhem as soon as the band struck the first chord of "Manifest Decimation," the title track from their Southern Lord debut released earlier this year. People always seem to come to see Power Trip with something to prove -- to the scene, to the band and most crucially, to themselves.
"Remind me that the rest of the world are pussies compared to Texas," urged PT singer Riley Gale. "I already know it in my heart, but I want confirmation."
The crowd needed no encouragement, of course. This was the band most of them had been waiting to see. The dance floor violence seemed to reach its peak during the chugging thrash of the new song "Crossbreaker," which was powerful enough to have even the most reserved kids in the crowd wanting in on the action.
With their headbanger haircuts, crunchy riffs and shredding solos, it's not altogether clear to me why Power Trip have been so fully embraced by the hardcore set rather than by the metalheads whom they so closely resemble, but there's simply no denying that they own the scene in this state. From start to finish, the floor was opened up from the stage to the soundboard to make way for the utter insanity of whirling fists and feet.
"I love Houston," Gale said with a grin. "It feels good to be home."
It seemed an awfully appropriate sentiment. After all, isn't coming home what holiday festivals are all about?
Personal Bias: I'm gettin' too old for this shit.
The Crowd: Black hoodies; stretched earlobes.
Overheard in the Crowd: "I guess their Will to Live was too strong to drive on ice, but Die Young didn't give a fuck." (lol)
Random Notebook Dump: It's still a strange sensation when the guy who booted you in the sternum going for a mic-grab says "excuse me" when he bumps you on the way to the bathroom.
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