1-Day Hardcore Showdown 2013

author PP date 21/08/13

It's now officially an annual tradition in the Copenhagen to find an event dedicated to the diversity and lifestyle of the hardcore movement scheduled at some point of the summer. Last year, the event was held in and outside of Pumpehuset, where bands like Ignite, Trapped Under Ice, Municipal Waste and many other bands from the various corners of the scene came to display their live performance skills.

1-Day Hardcore Showdown 2013

This year, the festival was moved to the confines of BETA and Amager/Bio, which has a similar two-stage setup as at Pumpehuset divided between the intimate vibe of BETA and the much larger Amager Bio that can house a few hundred extra people than Pumpehuset's top floor. And with big international names like Misfits and Sick Of It All as headliners, the organizers had counted on needing the extra capacity at some point during the day.

There's another advantage of relocating the event, however, and that is the awesome plaza outside of both venues which allows for outdoor merch booths, a barbecue, plenty of seating and an outdoor bar, all ideal for a warm mid-August summer day/evening. Here, you could find scene-appropriate merchandise ranging from vinyls and CDs to t-shirts, camo-shorts and all the rage, plus animal rights stands, and all that other stuff that comes with the hardcore scene in general. Pretty cool, except if you're not a vegetarian, because there isn't a meat option for us non-vegans, which is kind of hypocritical considering the fuss that would be made about the opposite circumstances. If animal treatment is one of the themes, then get some ecologically produced alternatives, which it at least better than having to resort to halal-slaughtered kebabs from around the corner. Just my two cents.

Eleven bands were on the schedule throughout the day, where the first five bands were smaller acts playing a showcase-type of 20 to 30 minute set at BETA with quick switchover between the bands.

Reviews

Halshug

Halshug @ 16:00-16:20

The honors for kicking off the festivities today were given to Copenhagen hardcore upstarts Halshug, who specialize in breakneck speed hardcore punk enshrined in crusty darkness and hooligan-style yelled vocals. Their ferocious expression is ridiculously fast, with a few catchy down-tuned hardcore riffs and thick bass-lines that catch your attention in the beginning, but quickly feel anonymous as little to no variation is on display. The vocalist/guitarist kicks the mic stand down near the end of the set as one of the only memorable moments from a show that, even at just 20 minutes, felt pretty long, thanks to a static stage appearance and forgettable songs. [5]

Beyond Pink

Beyond Pink @ 16:30-16:50

Beyond Pink. I see what they did there - they are namely an all girl hardcore band, who by the way display more energy today than most guy bands put together. Their vocalist owns a piercing scream, and often collapses on stage to scream from the stage floor, and has a nice sense of humour. "We get often booked to shows just because we're an all girl band", she says, before jokingly explaining that tonight they were booked because the organizers thought that their drummer has an extremely hot ass. Aside from an awkward cry of "why can't I have a brain the size of a walnut? I envy Neanderthals, why can't I be a Neanderthal?" right before "Neanderthal Dreamin'", the girls are full of rebellious punk spirit and attitude to share for the whole scene. Unfortunately for all their energy and stage antics, their songs don't really match up, and much like Halshug just before, they feel anonymous and generic. [5½]

Haraball

Haraball @ 17:05-17:25

After two hardcore bands, it's refreshing to hear one that's more punk oriented and slightly more melodic like Haraball from Norway. They have the smallest audience tonight inside BETA, which is weird, considering they have by far the best songs to offer out of any of the smaller bands playing here. They also rely on breakneck pace hardcore, but spice it up with subtle punk melodies and an excellent vocalist, whose pipes deliver a mean expression but one that's crystal clear and crisp all the way. They receive no response at all from the crowd aside from a few heads bobbing, and also appear glued to the floor aside from their vocalist who moves around at least slightly. One Poison Idea cover and 20 minutes of songs later, they feel like the first decent band of the day, but yet it's obvious why they're playing here and not on the bigger stage inside Amager Bio. [6]

No Love

No Love @ 17:40-18:00

No Love are one of the newest entrants to the Danish hardcore scene, representing the ever-growing Fredericia scene with yet another karate-mosh friendly brand of 'thug' hardcore, as the nickname of the genre goes in the local circles. Lot's of two-step rhythms, throwing the mic angrily into the ground, stomping, and that sort of thing, where the singer leaps into the crowd a couple of times to open up the pit for the karate class to take place. This is one of their first shows as a band, which is impressive considering how tight they look on stage already, which is probably also why they play merely 10 minutes before running out of songs to showcase today. A decent first offering, but too early to make any sort of statements about their potential without more evidence. [6]

Slöa Knivar

Slöa Knivar @ 18:10-18:30

Earlier I took a note at the weird and aggressive facial expression of Beyond Pink's drummer, who looked like what I imagine someone on heavy doses of cocaine to look like. Turns out that was just the beginning, because she doubles as the vocalist for Slöa Knivar, and puts on a display of some of the craziest (and strangest) stage antics I've seen in a while. She starts with pure old school hardcore spirit, performing scissor jumps and absolutely exploding on stage in every direction possible in the small space, but where it really starts to get crazy is when she starts landing those jumps in splits on stage. "Holy shit", the crowd gasps the first time she does it, but this is the start of something much weirder. What follows is difficult to jot down in words, but describing this performance as a rowdy burlesque show close to striptease is a start. I've simply never seen anyone - let alone a girl - on stage yelling hardcore lyrics in a piercing manner while essentially demonstrating various female sexual positions one after the other. Especially the one where she's lying on her back with her legs stretched behind her head made me extremely confused whether I'm watching an erotica show or a hardcore show - and the doggystyle poses, or bending over backwards while not facing the crowd made me stray no further away from those thoughts.

...just before stretching her legs backwards behind her neck

At the same time, you can definitely argue she has ridiculous amounts of attitude packed in her expression - if she were a guy, she'd have balls the size of bowling balls daring to do what she does on stage. But while it's great to see the female gender represented in the all too testosterone-driven hardcore scene, I'm not sure this is the right way to go about it. If the idea is to break the stereotype of women as sex objects and portray them as equals to males, which is a recurring theme in many hardcore songs, this performance does exactly the opposite, especially because the band has very little musical value in their songs. It becomes nothing but a burlesque show where the rest of the band members are forgotten into oblivion as horny guys gather around in a semi-circle to lust over this crazy blondie wearing almost no clothes to start out with. [6½]

The Last Resort - is that a glass eye?

The Last Resort @ 18:30-19:10

It's time to move inside for the first big name of the night, namely The Last Resort from the UK, who represent the age-old Oi! movement both in terms of their looks and their sound. Originating from the 2nd wave of Oi! in the early 80s, they've been around the block for a long time, which is probably why their lead singer looks like he's more than 60 years old as he casually walks around the stage wearing his fingerless leather gloves. Most people are still hanging outside as it's still warm and nice weather, so the stage feels way too big for them in an empty, echoing venue, despite a couple of decent Oi! songs sneaking into their setlist tonight. But really, they're standard fare Oi!, and the truth is they have just a couple of songs worth mentioning even in the context of the genre itself. They are completely stand-still on stage, and every song sounds more or less the same, save for the sing along song "Better Life" from their 2009 comeback album "You'll Never Take Us - Skinhead Anthems II". I'm struggling to jot down anything noteworthy about their show, aside from the (very) small two-step pits at the front during some songs, simply because the set isn't memorable in any way at all. A couple of decent songs, most others irrelevant in 2013. [5½]

Broken Teeth

Broken Teeth @ 19:25-19:55

Apparently this is the largest stage by far that Broken Teeth have ever played on, their vocalist tells us early on during their set. It really shows as well, because although the band's straight up hardcore lends itself for great energy on stage, they do seem a little unsure as to what to do with all that extra space around them and the barrier further down. It's still a disappointing turnout inside, yet the few concertgoers that have sneaked inside are busy stomping and performing various acts of karate in the pit, replicating Broken Teeth vocalist's every move on stage. Their music lends itself nicely for two steps given the symbiosis between the down-tuned riffs and the screamed vocals, but despite the band's best efforts they have considerable difficulty in creating an intense dynamic between themselves and the crowd, which is an absolute must for the type of music they are playing. You can't blame them for effort - the constant 'CIRCLE PIT', 'GET UP' etc shouting at the crowd - but unfortunately the sparsely populated Amager Bio is still rather dead at this point. BETA would've been an excellent venue for this show, I'm sure, but here, the stage is too big, the turnout too low for this to matter in the grand scheme of things. [6½]

Walls Of Jericho

Walls Of Jericho @ 20:15-20:55

Walls Of Jericho, on the other hand, are a completely different beast. They are led by vitriolic female vocalist Candace Kucsulain, whose ferocious pipes pack more punch than many if not most male equivalents, and whose energizing performance creates a fantastic dynamic between the now rather packed Amager Bio floor. Not only does the band demonstrate how to utilize a huge stage to their advantage by pouncing on every square meter of available room side to side, but they showcase their 15 years experience as a touring band by putting on a frantic show that sees everyone in the band jumping up and down in constant movement, constant feats of intensity, immediacy, urgency, and all that stuff. Candace's charisma rubs onto the crowd early on, so when she screams for a circle pit a large one is automatically formed by the crowd. Their combination of piercing metalcore and hardcore aggression puts together the best of both worlds on record, and live it seems to work even better because of the way Candace handles the crowd in-between and during songs. Her inspirational chants get people pumping fists, moving on the floor, and generally following whatever she requests people to do, all the while screaming and performing with the conviction of a vocalist who has been doing this longer than most of us have been listening to hardcore. This is the best show tonight by far both musically and in terms of pure energy on stage, so the crowd is understandably ecstatic when Candace makes it to the barrier in the last song to stand on top of it for a final melodic woo-hoo-ooh section to "Revival Never Goes Out Of Style". Wild cheers and much talk about the band continue outside as the crowd seems to be in unison agreement about what they've just seen. [8½]

The Psyke Project @ 21:15-21:55

To top off such an enigmatic show is an uphill task for most bands, but thankfully the best live band in Denmark is next ont he bill. Now, I've seen The Psyke Project play in venues tiny and large, with a huge turnout and completely empty places, and yet they deliver their chaotic, caustic performance the same way every time, today being no exception. Dark red, ominous lighting surrounds the venue as the band enter stage in almost silhouette-like shapes, all wearing similar camouflage makeup as seen in their epic "Winter" video. Lengthy buildups transform into waves upon waves of thick and cold chaos being thrown against the crowd in the form of pure hardcore tracks (older material) and the more atmospheric newer material. Many songs are deliberately slower and foreboding to help create their trademark atmosphere of utter despair and hopelessness, where eerily creepy soundscapes are contrasted by the manic performance of vocalist Martin, who carries around his mic stand as if it was a weapon at times. Elsewhere, he kneels down at the monitors to scream in back-chilling moments, sprays water out of his mouth into the air, or in general just puts his everything into a performance that matches the slow/fast/buildup/whatever parts of the song currently playing. Now, given how brutal their sound has always been, it's easy to dismiss their set as pure noise as a newcomer. But those of us that stay and watch the set undisturbed from start to finish quickly notice how immersive and complete their whole artistic expression is, from the outfits, to the lights, to the deliberately slow and atmospheric build ups that break out into insane chaos at unpredictable time signatures. It's a telling story that although the band starts out in front of a fairly empty venue, by the time I turn around from my trance-like state, the venue has filled up again as people are strangely, inexplicably drawn to the experimental art form that is The Psyke Project. [8]

Sick Of It All - airtime

Sick Of It All @ 22:25-23:25

Hardcore veterans Sick Of It All are the first real headliner tonight, at least if you are to judge based on their reputation, status, and standing within the hardcore scene. I saw them earlier this year at Hellfest, where the band look invigorated and younger than ever, which is a scenario that repeats itself throughout tonight as well. Despite approaching X, the guys look like they're 21 again while running mad speed left to right, bouncing up and down like they're on a trampoline, and delivering an exemplary showcase of what great crowd interaction really looks like. The circle pit action in the middle of the venue is massive throughout the show, especially thanks to a great setlist that leans heavily on material from "Death To Tyrants", including "My Machete", "Uprising Nation", the latter which sees the pit go absolutely nuts with everyone's fists raised high up in the air chanting, "DEATH TO TYRANTS". The sing alongs are there for the classics; "Die Alone" has a deafening one, whilst the circle pit intensifies. Now, we saw the karate idiots turn up earlier today, but let me tell you this: a karate pit has nothing, I tell you, NOTHING on organic mosh pits like the one SOIA delivers throughout tonight. "My Sanctuary" closes things off together with "Scratch The Surface", which features the usual wall of death that SOIA likes to do in this song, although even here the band feel more genuine and real than the scene bands that strive to do the same thing. Insanity in the crowd, fantastic energy on stage, classic hardcore songs aired. That's SOIA's show in a nutshell for you, even if it isn't as outright impressive as Walls Of Jericho earlier. [8]

Misfits

Misfits @ 23:55-00:55

I've never seen Misfits, nor have I been a huge fan, so Danzig or not, doesn't matter for me. That's my mindset going into the Misfits show tonight, and seeing the band enter stage in spiked up suits, vampire jackets etc makes me think I made the right choice coming here after all...that is, until the band reaches about song four or five, when I start wondering if this is really it? The majority of people seem to have come here for SOIA based on the lazy sing alongs to many horror punk classics, although the woo-ooh sections do get some traction within the crowd every now and then. What's more worrying though is how dated the band's lesser known songs sound in 2013. Aside from obvious classics like "Hatebreeder", which is dedicated to Jamey Jasta of Hatebreed, the songs, and especially their performance tonight, kind of suck. The singing is way out of line from anything resembling a solid, correct note, the performance is extremely static on stage with the only noteworthy moment being the removal of the spiked costume 20 minutes in. What's worse, the disappointed people start leaving in droves about halfway through, which only highlights the sorry state of Misfits anno 2013: an irrelevant, has-been band that has a couple of classics to entertain, but mostly just look old and miserable, a band that has lost its inspiration and desire to live on long time ago. [5]

Final Words

While it might seem like I didn't like a whole bunch of bands at this year's festival, the truth is that lot of the bands were decent at the very least. It's just that Walls Of Jericho set the bar so damn high for everything else to appear less interesting in retrospect, but either way, the event's atmosphere, the outdoor hanging out area, the stalls, and everything else made it a solid event overall as we've come to witness over the past two years. Support the hardcore scene, and see you next year, hopefully at the same venue.

Photos by: Kenny Swan

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