Thrasher x VANS Death Match at Knockdown Center - Saturday
(more photos by Angela Owens HERE)

After a long day of back to back to back to back sets of various styles of hardcore at the Thrasher x Vans Death Match party at Queens' Knockdown Center, hometown heroes Gorilla Biscuits took the stage and the whole vibe in the room immediately changed. There had been tons of killer sets all day, and the crowd went as apeshit for fellow legends Negative Approach and newer local band Incendiary as they did for Gorilla Biscuits, but there's still a certain touch that GB have that, all these years later, remains unparalleled. Gorilla Biscuits were celebrating the 30th anniversary of their classic self-titled debut 7" (they have a new 30th anniversary box set which there was a release party for at Coney Island Baby the previous night, and though it was billed as a "non-concert," GB ended up playing), and when they played favorites off of that 7" like "High Hopes" and "Big Mouth" and "No Reason Why" and "Hold Your Ground," they still sounded as fresh and relevant as possible.

Every member of Gorilla Biscuits was smiling all night -- especially Walter Schreifels who always looks thrilled to be re-assuming his position as GB guitarist even though he's spent the bulk of his career as a frontman -- and they sounded as crisp and as tight as you could ask for. Even though they were playing songs they wrote half a lifetime ago and no new material ("we're celebrating the 30th anniversary of our 7"... that doesn't mean we're being productive, it just means we're getting older," Civ joked at one point), their set felt as urgent as some of the young bands on the bill. And going by the average age of the crowd, you couldn't really call this "nostalgia" for the people moshing their asses of and stage diving and yelling into Civ's mic. Tons of people there looked like they hadn't been born yet when Gorilla Biscuits' first 7" came out. And we're all very lucky that we get to experience such a life-changing band still playing shows this impactful.

This show was not just an anniversary celebration for the 7" but also a homecoming of sorts. Civ said on stage it was Gorilla Biscuits' first time in about 30 years playing a show in Queens, where at least one GB member is from (bassist Arthur Smilios shouted it out as his home borough). He said the last time was one of GB's first shows ever in some dingy basement. Not too shabby that they're playing in front of a good crowd in a huge warehouse three decades later -- and still keeping it real. Civ took the time to shout out all ages shows, and shows with (almost) no barricade, both of which applied to Thrasher Death Match. Civ also took the time to talk about the shitty time we're currently living in (this show happened the same day Brett Kavanaugh was sworn in as a Supreme Court Justice), and he said, especially now, that there is no place for hate at their shows. He talked about respecting everyone, regardless of race or gender or sexual orientation, and especially given the timing, he talked a lot about respecting women and dedicated a song to the women in Gorilla Biscuits' members' lives. Obviously on-stage speeches at hardcore shows can't fix the world's problems, but it felt good to be surrounded by a huge crowd of people applauding Civ's every word on these topics.

The positive vibes of both Civ's stage banter and the band's performance were no small part of what made the show feel so powerful and so welcoming, and you can tell that they really mean it. Gorilla Biscuits only tend to play a few shows a year these days, but every time they do, they do it with all the care and passion in the world. They still have the enthusiasm and the athleticism of musicians half their age, and they manage to play these classic songs and deliver their classic hardcore-style stage banter without seeming like they're holding on to the past. Their songs are truly timeless, and that's even more evident in a live setting. If you've never seen these guys and you're on the fence next time you get a chance, just do it.

Watch a few video clips and some pics of GB's sets at both Thrasher Death Match and Coney Island Baby below. The rest of Saturday's Death Match lineup included Incendiary, Negative Approach, Culture Abuse, Fury, Gouge Away, Praise, and more. Pictures and a writeup on the rest of the day coming soon HERE.




More From Brooklyn Vegan