H2O, Youth of Today, and Run With The Hunted Within These Walls @ Nile Theater| 9/21/12
Last night marked the second year of local hardcore festival, Within These Walls. Last year was a success, with a full day of music on both stages. Most Precious Blood and H2O were the headliners, and this year, H2O made a return to the festival, which now spans two days.
Expectations were high after last year, and based off the first day, the second year of the festival was once again a success.
See also: Mantooth Group and Nile Theater Celebrate Hardcore with Within These Walls Festival See also: H2O's Poppy Major Label Debut, Go, Has Aged Very Well See also: H2O's Adam Blake on Promoting a Positive Lifestyle, Post-9/11 New York City, and Appropriate Times to Hardcore Dance
The local beloved hardcore act Run With The Hunted was a blast to watch, with the guitarist reminiscing about going to shows at the Nile in 1993. Someone in the audience shouted that they were a year old at the time, giving you a sense of the average age of the crowd. The guitarist continued talking about what an honor it was to grow up with a place like The Nile, which introduced him to a bunch of punk and hardcore bands, and how he was now honored to share the stage with these bands at Within These Walls.
The crowd was full with Run With the Hunted fans that enthusiastically grabbed for the mic and dogpiled during the last song. The singer had a lot of positive things to say, like encouraging fans to remember that they're a part of a community and not to take their relationships for granted. There was definitely a great sense of community last night, as everyone seemed to be in a good mood. There weren't any fights (to my knowledge, anyway) and people were good about helping fans up if they fell down.
The response to Youth of Today was good, for the most part, but could have been better, considering the band's influence on hardcore. Frontman Ray Cappo asked who had heard of his band, and only a handful of people cheered. It was kind of a bummer, but a fan in a red jersey was the band's saving grace.
This guy, who I was told was a member of Where Eagles Dare, kept the pit going and kept yelling things like, "play ten more songs and all of Shelter!" and "one more, we're not done moshing yet!"
Youth of Today's songs were short, fast, and loud and kept fans happy. The same group of people grabbed for the mic and stage dived a bit, it was cool to watch from a distance.
Cappo acknowledged the rest of the lukewarm crowd by encouraging fans to get close and sing along, even if they didn't know the words. He instructed us how to sing- "I'm not a good singer. Get up here, you're entitled to sing as much as I," he said before "Positive Outlook," and went so far as teaching us how to sing "Youth Crew." He squatted down and instructed the audience to sing the very simple line of "me, you, youth crew."
Red jersey guy and a few other select fans did their part and sang along with Cappo, who often squatted down by the crowd to sing about youth crew, straight edge, animal rights, and so on. He raised a good point when he talked about the old days of bands like Gorilla Biscuits and Sick of it All, and how they reminisced about the past, yet this generation praises that time, so in a decade or so, people are going to look back fondly in the time we're living in now.
One of Youth of Today's best received songs was "Break Down the Walls." Things got even better as folks who weren't necessarily familiar with the band went crazy to a cover of "Minor Threat" by, well, Minor Threat.
The crowd's response to this hardcore classic song was only a taste of what was to come with H2O.
Up until about a week ago, I was really excited to see Frank Turner for what would have been the third time last night. I'm a big fan of his, but once I heard that H2O was headlining the first night of Within These Walls, I immediately changed my plans and I have no regrets doing so, in spite of H2O's short set. Curse you, Mesa curfew, curse you.
H2O was joined by a new bassist, Paul Delaney from Kill Your Idols, which frontman Toby Morse was proud to introduce has his new long haired straight edge band member. Former bassist, Adam Blake is now on rhythm guitar, which one fan considered a promotion.
H2O's set was well balanced, with old classics and songs from 2008's Nothing to Prove blending together quite well. The band had a solid start with "1995," but the crowd really went wild for the second song, "Nothing to Prove," almost jumping in unison as soon as the song started.
After performing "Family Tree," Morse said that he likes performing on carpeted stages. "Especially when you're old, it's good for your knees," he said. He then pointed out the 10 year old perched atop his dad's shoulders and remarked that he had good taste in music.
Morse said he was proud to be a 42 year old man who's never tried drinking, drugs, or smoking, and performed "Still Here," changing the "38 years old" line to his actual age.
He talked about how east coast hardcore kids pick up change, floor punch, and "do all sorts of weird shit" on the dance floor, while the west coast invented the circle pit. "It's a positive thing, don't punch anyone in the face," he said before "Thicker Than Water."
One unexpected twist in H2O's set was when Morse said they were going to play an old song, and H2O played the opening riff of Black Sabbath's "War Pigs." It seemed like a cover until he sang, "my friends look out for me like family," signifying a very cool start to "5 Yr. Plan."
Toby Morse and guitarist Rusty Pistachio pulled a couple of guys onstage to sing the last little bit of "Guilty by Association" and neither were that great with their timing, but hey, it must have been rad to have Toby hand you the mic.
Morse and Blake asked about good Arizona bands, and the crowd shouted out names like Secret Reich, North Side Kings, and Authority Zero. Morse was surprised to learn that Alice Cooper was from Arizona and the conversation somehow shifted to juggalos.
The oddball conversation was forgotten (I needed to look at my notes for a refresher) as soon as Delaney strummed the opening bass riff to "What Happened?" and the crowd went insane one last time. Folks dog piled as they screamed "what happened to the music and the message that I love?" and reached for Morse's mic.
Morse sprayed some water on the audience, Pistachio stuck around to shake some hands, and that was it, a solid 45-minute H2O set with no encore.
The band didn't have any merch, which was a bummer. I would have loved to have picked up a One Life One Chance PMA All Day shirt and maybe Toby Morse's bad ass "Jay-Z Empire State of Mind" shirt.
I'm exhausted and my voice is strained from conversations and singing along, but I couldn't have asked for a better concert experience. Mantooth has done it again, Within These Walls was a blast. Unfortunately I will not be able to make it to the second day of the festival, but if you are a fan of hardcore music, I highly suggest that you go.
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Youth of Today Setlist:
Critic's Notebook: Last Night: Within These Walls Day One with H2O, Youth of Today, Run With the Hunted, and more. Personal Bias: I'm very picky when it comes to hardcore, but I'll never turn down an opportunity to see H2O. The Crowd: I was going to make some crack about Youth Crew until I saw the response to Youth of Today. We'll stick with fans who were too young to go to The Nile in 1993. Overheard in the Crowd: "Are you sending a fucking text message?" - Ray Cappo Random Notebook Dump: Does taking a big step away from stage divers make me an asshole?