Through And Through

Well falling asleep this afternoon for four hours hasn’t helped to map out the rest of my day very well at all. So it’s now after 9pm and I’m wide awake. There’s nothing worth watching on the TV and no shows to go to. I ended up doing that “man” thing of flicking through the satellite channels and I’ve come across a documentary about John Ritchie, better known as Sid Vicious. Sid! By Those Who Really Knew Him is almost two hours long, so during the adverts I’ll reminisce about some of the hardcore and punk bands I caught at Hellfest.

On the Saturday a lot of my  time was spent buzzing around the Warzone stage. After catching the end of some Scandinavian brutality supplied by Entrails it was followed by my first band on the Warzone stage, Los Angeles based Strife.

As mentioned a lot of posts back Sick Of It All in Dudley back in January ’95 was one of my earliest hardcore gigs. I think Strife, as the new kids, opened the show and Understand sandwiched inbetween. I’d never heard of them until that day and I was blown away by them. They impressed me so much I went off and brought their debut album One Truth on vinyl after their set.

At the time I was immersing myself more into the hardcore scene and when they were announced as support for Sepultura in 1996 I went on the strength of that announcement. I’m glad I went as it also turned out to be Max Cavalera’s penultimate shows with Sepultura. Two days later I drove up to a rainy Bradford to see Strife do an off tour headline show at the 1 in 12 club.

During the Manchester show I was accosted by a kid asking if I was with the band whilst I was roaming the venue between bands as I had my Strife bowling shirt on (once a merch whore, always a merch whore!) Obviously I couldn’t tell a lie and said no, but my response might have been a bit different 20 years on.

After that it’d be another 15 years until I saw them again in Manchester’s Alter Ego, only been there that one time and it was tiny, slightly bigger than my living room at home. A nice sweaty, intimate gig. I noticed a bald guy with a huge beard on the streets outside and thought he was familiar. It turned out to be vocalist Rick Rodney. In my mind he was a clean shaven bald headed guy.

Roll on to 2016 and he’s still hairless and the beard is there,maybe a bit greyer in places now though. In front of a few thousand fans at 1:30 in the afternoon they put in a faultless, angst ridden performance and was one of many highlights of the weekend. As soon as Rick’s on stage duties were done the microphone was dropped and stage exited to the right. Not wanting to bask in the crowds adulation is the way to leave the stage. Fantastic stuff.

Step Down

Another year, another set of friends, another musical adventure to set out on!!

The Wheatsheaf in Stoke was my home away from home for so many great gigs for nine years. Even though it’s been closed as a music venue for 15 years or so, there aren’t many venues where I’ve seen more bands!

I got to be friends with the drummer of a local band called Skate Drunks and through him and more associated friends got more heavily into all aspects of the hardcore scene. New York hardcore like the band on offer here. Emo / post hardcore like Quicksand. Pop Punk like The Offspring. All the off shoots of the hardcore punk style all lead back to one fateful evening in 1990.

One of my earliest memories of seeing a NYHC (New York Hardcore) band was at JB’s in Dudley – another defunct venue. Sick Of It All headlined over Strife and Understand. I’d never heard of Strife before that night, but I brought their debut album straight after their set!

Sick Of It All are another band that never fail to entertain live. Great songs and always a great vibe at their gigs. Frontman Lou Koller is a cross between a cheerleader and a conductor leading the crowd on, ably assisted by his brother Pete – the founding members of the band back in 1986 in Queens, NY.

Step Down is taken from the bands third album and their first for a major label – that being East West. It was a much more polished offering compared to its predecessor Just Look Around.