Royale, Boston, MA
The Royale Nightclub’s website specifically states that formal dress is required, and yet they seem open to hosting Metal and Hardcore shows. I’m sure you’re aware they attract people that sometimes don’t bathe as well as the normal clientele, or at least dress in a manner that suggests this fact. The Royale should have no right to judge since its locale is so nondescript on the exterior that one would be forgiven for missing it entirely while looking right at it. Even I, who had seen it a month prior before THE GHOST INSIDE show was having a hard time believing this was indeed the place that pit warfare was set to occur. Located next to a grubby convenience store and boasting the outside of a hotel suffering from cognitive dissonance, surrounded by Hardcore kids, you’d be shocked to see the largely rose hues adorning the walls of the interior. Just goes to show one can’t judge by appearances, at least for buildings. Just assume someone’s dying in any building you set your sights on, basically.
The inside of the Royale is such that you’re almost made more eager to start smashing things once the riff gate opens. Fancy chairs for those who would rather stay unharmed, Patrón on the rocks, and the aforementioned pink lighting performing an unrestrained waltz of chromatic liberty with splashes of lavender. I had a most wonderful conversation with a security guard about being careful in Dorchester for a few minutes, since apparently I’d make an ideal target for roving packs of gangbangers, but this is common sense and he was wasting his time. I humoured him regardless. Don’t hate me because I’m beautiful, baldie.
Before I digress any further: this place was just ripe for the blood, sweat, and tears approach to Hardcore that CONVERGE brings. The type of Hardcore that openers WHIPS/CHAINS bring is lacking in that, however.
They have everything that I enjoy in bands like ALL PIGS MUST DIE, NAILS, and CURSED: sludgy production, riffs draped in unveiled malice fired from cannons of “fuck you”, vocals from the void, and pounding drums matched only by subterranean rumblings. Though they possess the skill and anger of the bands I just mentioned, something sounds out of place, and I just can’t get into it. Blame it on overexposure to bands that have done it before, and maybe I do indeed have no room left for another band that sounds like COALESCE swimming in an oil spill with members of BOLT THROWER. In the meantime, I’ll just leave it at the fact that they’re good, probably even great, but at the moment I’m not into it.
Following W/C were local hatemongers NEW LOWS, whose lyrics revolve around being mad and other negative things. Having not seen NEW LOWS since a matinee show some time ago, I was eager to see how they’re doing these days, and hoping that they’re still as pissed off as they were before. By Jove, they haven’t changed, and I love it. The crowd was luckily the type that either appreciated NEW LOWS or simply liked what they heard, so I didn’t have to feel like my going all-out for them would be seen as unnecessary roughness. This being the first time seeing NEW LOWS in such a large venue, it was almost bizarre having so much space within which to perform my normal drowning-in-air ministrations. No gimmicks, no hype, just piss.
Up next were everyone’s favourite Black’n’Rollers KVELERTAK, mainly because not many other bands make Black’n’Roll so fun. KVELERTAK hail from frøstbitten Nørway, though their musical output does much to warm the blood of audiences they play to. Having recently played Fun Fun Fun Fest with they’re showing no signs of quitting any time soon. From the ultra-energetic opener “Ulvetid”, to hymn-for-the-imbibed closer “Mjød”, not a single song let the energy die down. The mosh action was hilariously inappropriate for the band, though they are a mix of Black Metal er… Metal-ness and the driving rhythms of Hardcore and Punk, one wouldn’t expect two-stepping to rule the roost. Nonetheless, everyone seemed to be having a great time shouting along, crowdsurfing, and of course, spilling the beer they had bought merely minutes ago.
Self-proclaimed “Stoner-Pop” band TORCHE arrived to cool things down, and I solemnly swear that I don’t think it’s funny that the name directly contradicts what they did. By the time they rolled around, the crowd had grown at least twice as large as it was during KVELERTAK, showing just how much pull they alone had for the evening. I even know a couple of people who would have gone mainly for Torche, if not only just for them. In their generous set time they showed off their Miami-brewed blend of the heaviness they take from Stoner/Sludge Metal while infused with the lighter harmonies of Indie leanings. Comparable acts are THE SWORD and RED FANG, though TORCHE is definitely the silliest of the three, and thus I like them best. The only issue I had with TORCHE this time around, having seen them before, was the vocals, since they weren’t as strong as I remembered them being. This was a small issue, since all of the other elements were in their prime: The guitars were heavy, the drums were on target, and the atmosphere was that just-right juxtaposition of having your head dunked in a bucket of syrup and taking a pleasant swim in clear water. On a completely unrelated note, I positively adored their DESCENDENTS rip-off tee of the “I Don’t Wanna Grow Up” album featuring baby Milo sporting a Jane Doe shirt, with the title “Torche Goes On Tour With Converge”. Had I a few extra bucks to spend, I would buy it at a high price.
Across the Shields
Charge of the Brown Recluse
And now, for the pièce de résistance, the crème de la crème, and other French phrases one uses to express delight at the part of a meal one is most excited for: CONVERGE, the superheroes of Massachusetts Hardcore.
I’ve known about CONVERGE since I was 13 years old, having heard their song “Last Light” on an Epitaph compilation CD. Being musically stupid at the time and thinking that LINKIN PARK were THE rock band to listen to, I absolutely hated it. I hated the vocals, the production, the song structure, everything. It was one of my least liked songs on that compilation next to “Forever Young” by YOUTH GROUP. It took me about 4-5 years to grow up and realize the error of my ways, and “Last Light” began to grow on me. The dynamics of balancing vulnerable emotion and chaotic rage finally struck a chord within me, and I just got it. After listening to Jane Doe and No Heroes, I was swayed to the side of good. It’s a shame it took ages for the real message to stick, but better late than never.
So fast forward to 2012, and there I was greatly fearing injury, yet at the same time accepting that it was quite inevitable. My prediction, as some of you may know, came true; My worries were made manifest as an elbow to the left eye and nose, and the lesser torments of repeated kicks to the skull from stagedivers, though fear not, any damage incurred has been repaired… or has it? I still worry whenever I make slips of the tongue that were more easily avoided prior to this experience. And yes, dear reader, I was, in the parlance of our times, “knocked the fuck out”, and I must say that the quick nap I took due to the sheer dizziness of that attack gave me the strength I needed to stagedive for “The Broken Vow”. The “dive to prove I’m alive” manœuver, as it was so cleverly termed by a Spaniard, proved quite effective.
It was a phenomenal set. They played a lot of greats, opening with “Concubine” and “Dark Horse” just to get the audience churning themselves into a mass of flannel, flesh, and hatred. It was no-mans land in the middle of that pit, and even the outermost perimeter did not by any means make one safe from flying limbs. Jacob Bannon kept the people energized by reminding us just how crazy Boston can get even if we are past those golden years of Hardcore, throwing out the names of COLIN OF ARABIA, and some others I forgot because I took many blows to the head, remember. The Metalheads, Punks, and Hardcore kids of Boston may be divided on the surface, but it takes a great band like CONVERGE to bring them all together.
It’s all a whirlwind of fists, loud noises, and bloodshed. I’m sure I accidentally punched someone in the face, and to you, I apologize. It was all in the spirit of the moment, and if you weren’t committing some violent act or on the receiving end of one, then you probably wasted your time and money going. Some gladly kept the action going even when the music had stopped, and JACOB (BANNON) insisted that if you happened to be caught onstage not stagediving, waiting for the next song, then you were probably not using your time wisely. Of course, he said it in a more imperative fashion, but that’s just my spin on it, you see.
I’m beginning to ramble, but that’s what happens when I love a show so much that I can scarcely put into factual terms just how monumental it was. CONVERGE’s homecoming was a magnificent dithyramb of naked fury, and no amount of hyperbole will surpass what everyone in that room felt that night during that final dissonant breakdown of “Last Light”. I don’t know about you, but there was no sound in the heavens sweeter than that disfigured chord at the time, and I shall admit that I shed some manly tears, thus causing lions made of dragons to be born from exploding stars. When they announced they were encoring with “The Saddest Day”, it was quite unwise to be near the stage for those 7 minutes, as you ran the risk of having your head dropkicked off by some errant punk. Practicing caution and raising my arm at key moments was instrumental to my being alive to relay this tale to you, reader, so always wear a dental dam at a CONVERGE show.
In the aftermath, it was discovered that there were no casualties, though few who actively participated came out without some form of soreness or bleeding. I made it out with a not-too-noticeable lump on the bridge of my nose. One person completely missed the crowd during a stagedive, and the floor shook a bit from his landing on his back, so I’d hate to be that guy waking up for work or school the next day. No pain, no gain, you’re DAVE MUSTAINE. Next time CONVERGE roll around, which is hopefully soon, if they’re indeed gonna be getting back to their normal lives in the illest colonial city of them all, I’ll make sure I get legitimately banged up. In the meantime, I must procrastinate and forget to do things, as usual. Ciao, bella.
Bitter and Then Some
All We Love We Leave Behind
Sadness Comes Home
My Unsaid Everything
Worms Will Feed/Rats Will Feast
On My Shield
Axe to Fall
Empty on the Inside
Eagles Become Vultures
The Broken Vow
The Saddest Day
By Sean Genovese