Converge

support Integrity + Coliseum
author TL date 02/08/08 venue Stengade 30, Copenhagen, DEN

It's a sunny Saturday in Copenhagen, and I've paid a rather steep bus ticket, taking a break in my vacation with my girlfriend, to come to Stengade 30 and report from Converge's show with Coliseum and Integrity. As the opening of the doors gets a bit delayed, me and my friends enjoy a few beers in the ticket line, watching buff tattooed hardcore fans converge (sorry) with skinny scenekids, making out quite a crowd and backing the rumour that the tickets available in the door are scarce. We make it in though, and get to enjoy a few beers more, checking out the very black merch (sigh) and getting stoked on the loud Hatebreed blasting from the speakers.

Coliseum

First band on the bill is Coliseum, and if my preconceptions were about pretentious three-chorded breakdown boredom, they pretty much piss all over them, because this three-piece is the real deal, and their music has balls of a size that, if I wasn't speaking in the literary sense, would take up all the room in the venue. Groovy, southern-fried and low-tuned riffs are delivered at full speed and complimented by a vivid stage-performance and a no-bullshit attitude, and effectively, I'm very positively surprised. The band takes time off towards the end of their set, to urge the enthusiastically moshing scenekids who might just look more clueless than they really are, to not stop here and rather dig deeper into the hardcore underground and find more great bands like some of those on the bill today. Good performance. Good messages. Respect.

Integrity

When it comes to Integrity however, my prejudice is proved to be more right than I would have liked. As the band comes on, the muscular, sleeve-tattoed, shorts-wearing, cap-sporting tough guys make their way to the front of the crowd, and as soon as the music commences they proceed to be as destructive, inconsiderate and annoying as a host of out of control British hooligans. Come to think of it, that comparison isn't even way off, as it's the same thing, claiming to come in 'true' support of the band/team, when all they really want is to prove how 'hardcore' they are by being as destructive to people and property around them, nevermind the band. As for the band, it seems to me that there's little in their music or performance that differentiates them from the stereotypical pretentious three-chords, breakdown x100, shred, repeat formula, that their name hints at when I hear it. To be fair though, I had a hard time concentrating on their show, as I was busy trying to avoid being rammed by out-of-control mongrels or cut by flying shards of glass from broken beer mugs. I guess if you're a buff dude with mean tattoos who likes slamming the ground and sucking at capoeira and you think you're as hxc as they come, you would probably consider the Integrity show a (9). You would also be subject to my hate and disgust. If you're anything else, you'd probably think it was a (4), so effectively, I'm going to put the final grade right between the two, at

.

Converge

When the first tones of "Plagues" emit from the speakers though, my bitterness leaves me in an instant, and I stand on my toes like everyone else in the now severely packed venue, glimpsing guitarist Kurt Ballou standing alone on stage, striking noises out of his guitar with a machine-like precision that makes the riffs sound crisper than they could have even on a backing track. Obviously, what happens when the rest of the band takes the stage and frontman Jacob Bannon unleashes his furious vocals, is nothing short of mayhem. From wall to wall, people are contributing to making the dance floor a battle for survival, still however, in a more traditional mosh pit sense, rather than in the "hi I think I'm Bruce Lee" one, so thumbs up for that. "Heartbreak" and "No Heroes" follow suit, maintaining focus on the most recent album while upping the tempo and the intensity. A change that's followed by the crowd, showing unwavering dedication to the band, screaming words that are usually indecipherable on record, as if they were as familiar as a chart-topping pop hit. Bannon only does half his vocal job so far, as he's concentrating on jumping around and plunging his mic deep into the crowd, allowing for the choir of screamers to enforce the total aggression of the songs. I've seen three songs by now, and so far, Converge are topping every band save The Dillinger Escape Plan, in terms of intensity and devoted performance.

And here's where I fail epically. Realising that I have to make a train at 10 AM next morning, in my hometown to which the last train for hours, is leaving in 30 minutes, I have to bail out of the show halfway through the 4th song, not even hearing the title. It seems I'm doomed to simply not be able to see Converge in their full glory (I missed their set due to an unsolvable conflict with my work-schedule last year). For what it's worth, Converge was headed the same way as The Dillinger Escape Plan with the insanity of their show, and seeing as I have a very hard time imagining that they slowed down after I left, I have little doubt when I tell you that their performance is a must see, and subsequently grade it.

9

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