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Forward destroyed Saint Vitus with Warthog, Haram & more (pics, review)

Japanese hardcore vets Forward toasted Brooklyn’s Saint Vitus Saturday night, to the tune of legendary. The Burning Spirits-birthed collective was lighting flashes and dark-urban night, thrashing a powerful spirit that closed out a killer bill.

Forward features members of influential ‘80s bands like Death Side and Insane Youth, and though they spoke little English, what they did say was profound and poignant, adding to the sleek dimension they doused over the buzzing crowd — which was ridiculously warmed up, via ecstatic sets by NYC’s finest in hardcore and punk.

Sister Anne opened up. Strolling and soulful, they enacted a beautiful kind of punk, which lighted moods and foretold of the night to come. Colors and riffs meshed, as the balance between chaos and tranquility danced.

Headsplitters was huge. Raw and speedy, the trio brought anger and immensity. The pain was real, the quickness transparent. Little sections of avant-garde extensions gave the group added depth, and when they locked down the groove, milliseconds turned into microseconds. Fast, fast, fast.

Haram started playing and the place turned into a madhouse — a spiritual madhouse — with everyone hanging onto every hymn and thrash frontman Nader Haram sung. With their songs all sung in Arabic, it was a wonderful scene to experience. Given the state of the world, and in particular America, the oneness and spirituality of Haram’s set was a simple yet immensely powerful reminder of the eternalness of love, creativity and art. The band was mystical and hard, the crowd was floating in clouds.

The mood only got harder as Warthog destroyed the place with metallic rage and rainbow death. You could feel the love, as the crowd swung, jumped and lost themselves in bliss. Warthog play straight hardcore, but there’s an encircling sort of mysticism, an old school trueness that warms the soul and gives rise to confidence. You could sense it, every song harder, every mosh pit more bent, each individual becoming more and more part of one thing, and one thing only.

Forward finished the place off with unique juxtaposition. It was more hardcore, but like every band before them, an individual extension was paramount, from a place in the universe that is real, and yogic. It was music from the decayed wastelands of industrialization, the concrete hell of destruction. The group reminded the crowd of America’s brutal and devastating past, listing Hiroshima and Nagasaki, and then chanting “no more nukes, no more nukes.” It got everyone in sync, and then they went quickly into a breakdown, to wipe away the pain (temporarily).

Saturday night was maybe what it was like back in the day, when New York City Hardcore reigned supreme, CBGB glowed, and people experiencing it were forever changed, forever stronger. There’s still a real scene out there right now, still artists and people together making magic and believing in a better place.

Punk rock lives!!!

words photos by Christopher J. Harrington

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