Early shows on a Saturday night tend to indicate something more is going on later, but as a diverse crowd of heavy music fans steadily filled the Municipal Waste, Napalm Death, Sick Of It All, Dropdead, and Take Offense show at Bowery Ballroom on 10/12 to sold-out capacity, it was clear that a stacked bill brimming with kinetic, raging energy had rendered all other activities obsolete. Old-school punks rubbed shoulders with death metal beardos - as well as a younger set of fans not even born when half of the bands playing were first formed – but there were no beefs to be seen, no gatekeeping save for how well one could handle the mosh pit that never seemed to stop until the show was over.

California’s Take Offense is the perfect opener for a tour like this; young, hungry and obviously indebted to a few of the bands on the bill. Thrashy hardcore in the vein of early Suicidal Tendencies and DRI, their quick, stompy anthems got the crowd moving towards the stage and warmed up for the special treat this stop of the tour had to offer: Providence hardcore/grind legends Dropdead. This brought the old heads out of pit retirement, with the band’s signature minute-or-less speed punk anthems both new and old. Frontman Bob Otis is just as pissed off now as he was in 1993, and time hasn’t come close to diminishing Dropdead’s onstage intensity.

That blistering set was yet another perfect segue, this time leading to the gods of grind, Napalm Death. They had a few odds stacked against them – vocalist Barney Greenway ended up with an injured right ankle during the set, and bassist Shane Embury couldn’t make it to the States for the tour – but this is a band that famously defies all odds. With over thirty years of material to draw from, the setlist was satisfyingly varied; most of the songs came from 1987’s genre-defining Scum, but every decade of the band was represented as Greenway howled, bellowed and writhed his way across the stage. The crowd was notably less active during Napalm’s set, perhaps captivated by Greenway’s political messages as much as the music.

Hometown heroes Sick Of It All put everyone back in mosh mode. Playing Bowery for only the second time in two decades (the first was the night before this), the Koller brothers and their crew brought out all the hits, with crowd-pleasers “My Life”, “Injustice System” and especially “Scratch The Surface” whipping the pit into a frenzy and prompting most of the crowd to sing back all the lyrics as if their lives depended on it. With so much energy expelled through four lively sets, it begged the question: would Municipal Waste be playing to a spent audience?

The answer was unequivocally no. Starting with a one-two punch of “Unleash The Bastards” and “Mind Eraser”, the Richmond party thrash masters kept the crowd moving with fast riffs, breakdowns galore and frontman Tony Foresta’s impossibly eternal positivity. It’s hard to say no when someone is all smiles, yelling “circle pit, circle fuckin’ pit, come on!” directly at you. The set pulled at least one song from each of the band’s full-lengths, with 2007’s The Art Of Partying getting the most love. “Headbanger Face Rip” induced much headbanging and face-ripping, and “Born To Party” led to the biggest sing-along of the night. A quick encore of “The Art Of Partying” sent everyone home on a third wind, exhaustion not quite hitting yet, the high of an excellent show propelling the crowd through the autumn night.

The tour also hit Bowery Ballroom on Friday (10/11) with Subversive Rite on the bill instead of Dropdead, and pictures of that show are in the gallery above (though we missed Subversive Rite). The tour continues in Detroit tonight (10/16), and Napalm Death -- who apparently have a new album coming -- just announced they'd be performing two '90s albums at Decibel Metal & Beer Fest in Philly in 2020.


photos by Mathieu Bredeau

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