Every now and then, something will happen in the punk and hardcore community that just reminds me what I love so much about it. This past Saturday was an excellent example of that. When Nate Gluck from NJ’s Ensign was diagnosed with cancer earlier this year, a bunch of bands and friends decided to throw him a huge benefit show to help pay the cost of the treatment. The fest (dubbed NateFest) was to take course over two days at GameChanger World in Howell, NJ and the lineup was fucking staaaacked.
When it was announced that Bigwig was to be playing on Saturday, I instantly had to go. Bigwig has been one of my favorite bands that I’ve been listening to for nearly 15 years now, yet even though I grew up in NJ somehow never got a chance to see live. Beyond stoked doesn’t even begin to describe how I was feeling. The fact that both Kill Your Idols and None More Black were also playing the show were huge bonuses to make for an amazing day.
I got to the venue, and if you’ve never been the layout are two opposing stages, while one band played the other set up so there was barely any wait times between sets. There was nothing but positive vibes at the show, and while the warehouse doesn’t have the best sound (ok it’s downright awful on the main stage), it was an amazing time.
None More Black:
I got there right in time for NJ/Philly favorites None More Black. Jason (ex Kid Dynamite) and crew took the stage and immediately broke into “Banned From Teen Arts”, their love/hate ode to NJ. None More Black played a no nonsense set, without any stage banter as they ripped through their catalog while plenty in the crowd were shouting along.
Always a solid set, I know they aren’t very active anymore… but a Philly church show again would be beyond fantastic.
Banned From Teen Arts
Sinatra After Dark
My Wallpaper Looks Like Paint
Drop The Pop
Here Comes Devereux
I’m Warning You With Peace and Love
We Dance On The Ruins Of The Stupid Stage
Oh There’s Legwork
Next up were NJ straight hardcore band Mouthpiece. Often seen as one of the more influential bands of the youth crew era, the band called it a day in 1996, but plays the occasional reunion show. People were losing their shit to them and while I never got too familiar with their music minus the one album I have, they put on a solid set.
For The Love Of and Strength 691 were up next, but I was waiting by the Bigwig stage since I’ve been waiting nearly 15 years for this show.
Maybe it’s the fact I grew up in NJ, but Bigwig has always been one of my favorite bands and have been a constant that I listen to since I was just teen. To finally get to see them after thinking I would never get to was incredible. Clearly, I wasn’t the only one excited for them because as soon as they opened up into “Sink Or Swim” they had a pit open with us flailing about for the majority of the set, with plenty of people up front screaming along the words.
Vocalist/guitarist Tom seemed to be legitimately love being able to play New Jersey again, and the band was in all high spirits feeding off the crowd’s energy. Bigwig played an amazing set, with the majority coming off of their last 3 albums Stay Asleep, Invitation to Tragedy, and Reclamation (and of course Girl In The Green Jacket off of Unmerry Melodies).
How excited was I? Let me put it like this, when the band played one of my favorites “Flavor Ice”, I accidently came out of my stage dive/crowd surf retirement that I declared 5 years ago ever since I needed 20 screws in my arm due to a mishap at a Bouncing Souls show. It was like the 16 year old in me came out.
Easily my favorite set of the day, Bigwig needs to play more shows again. They put on an amazing set still.
Sink Or Swim
A War Inside
Girl In The Green Jacket
Friends (I think they played this)
I had to grab some food during Indecision’s set, but made it in time to catch Grade.
Next up were Canadian emo/hardcore/screamo/whatever Grade who played a very energetic set. The singer was all over the place, jumping around the stage…not bad for a band that originally called it a day back in 2002. While I never really was a Grade fan back in the day, I got to say, I really enjoyed their set a lot.
Grade played most of their third and most famous release Under The Radar, and had plenty of people in the crowd singing along and stage diving during their melodic songs.
The Inefficiency of Emotion
Stolen Bikes Ride Faster
Conceptualizing Theories in Motion
To Illustrate And Design Parameters
A Year In The Past, Forever, And The Future
Triumph and Tragedy
For The Memory Of Love
When Something Goes To Your Head
Next up were 80s NY hardcore legends Sheer Terror who took the stage with a simple “We’re Sheer Terror, fuck you.” Admittedly, I’m not a huge fan of Sheer Terror, but I recognize how influential they were to New York hardcore bands. They played a unique style of hardcore at the time with heart-felt lyrics (just listen to the album Ugly And Proud) in a scene that was dominated with songs about straight edge, crews, and how great NYHC is, and they definitely had the fanbase there to rage for them.
A giant pit was open up throughout the majority of the set, and after they finished a decent amount of people left. The singer’s stage banter was cynical yet hilarious, poking fun of friends in other bands, etc.
Here To Stay
Don’t Hate Me Cause I’m Beautiful
Heartburn In GLove Songs For The Unloved
Close My Eyes
Three Year Bitch
Twisting And Turning
Did You Just Meet Me
The Revenge Of Mr Jiggs
Cup O Joe
Just Can’t Hate Enough
Kill Your Idols:
I was pretty stoked for the last band of the night, NY’s Kill Your Idols. I’ve been a fan of them for a while now, but only getting to see them once at This Is Hardcore a few years back, and I had no idea how popular they were. The second these melodic hardcore legends came out and blasted into an intro straight into Falling, the place completely erupted and didn’t really let up for the rest of the night. With constant stage dives, pile ons, and flips over singer Andy West, he took it all in good stride even when he declared “someone just spit into my mouth.”
Playing a long and energetic set, the band played songs off most their releases with a heavy majority coming from This Is Just The Beginning and No Gimmicks Needed. Throwing in a few Minor Threat covers “to keep you interested”, human piles were forming throughout their set with the wildest being the closer “Can’t Take This Away” (although I probably lost it most to my personal favorite “Autumn”). I know that this could very well be Kill Your Idols last show, but I’m hoping they play again soon… even if they aren’t active anymore, they put on a hell of a set and still have us raging.
Hardcore Circa 99
What I’ve Become
Stop Comparing Us To Negative Approach
Wake Up Sheep
Enjoy The Show
Funeral For A Feeling
Only Dicks Don’t Like Black Flag
All Those Wasted Calling Cards
Send In The Clowns
Cast Me Aside
Chesterfield And Propagandhi
I Told You So
Small Man, Big Mouth (Minor Threat cover)
Straight Edge (Minor Threat cover)
Grey Skies Ahead
Young (At Heart)
Words Without Action
Can’t Take This Away
None More Black – Genuine Malaise and Misery
Bigwig – Mr. Asshole
Kill Your Idols – Right Now
More Punk Rock:
None More Black – File Under Black
Bigwig – Stay Asleep (My favorite Bigwig Album)
Kill Your Idols – No Gimmicks Needed