American Nightmare is quite frankly, my favorite hardcore band of all time. I remember a friend giving me the album Background Music, and then seeing them tour with The Hope Conspiracy back in 2003. I went mostly for Hope Conspiracy, but left an American Nightmare fan. Soon afterwards they announced their breakup, and I was telling my friends for years all I wanted was another American Nightmare show. My chance finally came at the end of 2011 where I got to see their reunion show up in Boston. I thought it was going to be a one off thing, but then I got to see them again in NYC in 2012, and then again last night.
Although I was running on no sleep and was completely exhausted, I made the solo trek from Philadelphia to New York’s sold out Webster Hall. I got done with work late so I missed all the openers, and actually walked into the venue right as American Nightmare was setting up. Good fucking timing.
For those who don’t know, lead singer Wes now fronts an 80s synth-pop band called Cold Cave and he looks much more like the part for that these days coming out with a shiny goth inspired jacket. But as a frontman, he still has that hardcore kid in him as he runs around the stage, embracing the pile-ons and mic grabs.
Taking the stage and opening with Background Music opener “(We Are”) the place immediately erupted into a frenzy of stage dives, somersaults, and a huge pit that didn’t really let up for the rest of the night. In true recent American Nightmare fashion, there wasn’t much stage banter and they kept it going. While their set seemed way too quick, they played a solid chunk off all of their albums.
Wes announced they were going to play some songs they never really do live, doing some of their slower songs (Bluem, Crime Scene, We Killed It, and instrumental Sometimes It’s Like It Will Never End) in the middle of their set which was different to see (and sort of strange to see in the middle of their set, especially when Wes left the stage during the instrumental), but it was cool to hear them do songs I never really saw them do before.
Granted there’s something that’s always been a bit strange to me about seeing them at Webster Hall, and I think it’s just the size/overproduction of the show with it’s constant colored strobe lights and I believe fog machines going. This is more of a venue thing than an American Nightmare thing, but as one of the rawest hardcore bands around they’ve always seemed a bit out of place to me at Webster Hall.
While no American Nightmare show for me will ever compare to the energy of their first reunion show or the first time I’ve seen them, it’s always a good time to see one of my favorite bands of all time play again. I know their shows are few and far between, but I’m really hoping they come to Philly soon. How sick would it be to see them at the First Unitarian Church like they toured back in the day? Shit would be unreal.
Protest Song #00
There’s A Black Hole In The Shadow Of The Pru
I’ve Shared Your Lips And Now They Sicken Me
Bluem (Calumet Street Light People)
Young Hearts Be Free Tonight
We Killed It
(And Sometimes It’s Like It Will Never End)
Shoplifting In A Ghost Town
I Saved Latin
Postmark My Compass
And All The Pretty Pretty Kids With Their Tired Tired Eyes:
American Nightmare – Year One
American Nightmare – Background Music
Scenester 101: How To Be An Old School Hardcore Kid In 10 Easy Steps!