Thrasher Death Match pics: Gorilla Biscuits, Negative Approach, Fury, Gouge Away & more
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.
The first-ever NYC edition of Thrasher Death Match wrapped up on Saturday (10/6) at Knockdown Center with a full day of hardcore punk, skateboarding, food trucks, a photobooth, and more. The whole thing definitely felt like Thrasher brought a taste of SXSW to NYC (Death Match has existed for many years in Austin during SXSW), and it also felt like a good way for NYC to make up for the closure of House of Vans (Vans is Death Match's current shoe sponsor). That's an excerpt of my review of Gorilla Biscuits' headlining set above, and here's more about the rest of the day...
I got there just before Praise went on (I missed Death Bells and Weeping Icon), and Praise made for a killer start to my day. The Baltimore band has strong Dag Nasty/Revolution Summer vibes, but they do it with such passion and energy that it feels vital today and not just like an homage to the past. Frontman Andy Norton is as fired-up and convincing as you need to be for this kind of thing ("Fuck Brett Kavanaugh," he spat, as the band hit the final chord of their set), but Praise's not-so-secret weapon is drummer Daniel Fang (who also plays in Turnstile and Angel Du$t). He beats the hell out of his kit, and never at the expense of precision. He's a beast.
One of my favorite sets of the day came from Florida's Gouge Away, who are fresh off of releasing their second album (and first for Deathwish), Burnt Sugar. I hadn't seen Gouge Away since they were touring behind their 2016 debut, and on Saturday they were even more menacing than I remembered. The band is razor-sharp, and frontwoman Christina Michelle is a next-level hardcore vocalist. She never stands still for more than a few seconds, and her scream is even more intense live than on record -- you just have to see it for yourself to fully experience its power. She also expertly switches things up, transitioning into eerie, quiet, speak-sung vocals, or more melodic singing here and there, and then turns right back up to 11 without missing a beat.
Another big highlight for me was Orange County punks Fury. They can seem transported into 2018 directly from '80s hardcore -- and I admit that made me a little cynical at first -- but once you get sucked into the pure adrenaline rush of their show, and see all the kids up front going wild and yelling every word, you totally forget about what bands they might sound like. Fury feel as genuine and as authentic as possible, no posturing or copping any particular band's style. They seem like the type of people who live and breathe punk rock, and who couldn't possibly think of a better way to deliver their message than by getting up on stage and speeding through a series of two-minute ragers. They've got a new album coming out on Run For Cover, so stay tuned for that.
It was awesome to see all these young bands keeping hardcore alive in the leadup to the legendary Gorilla Biscuits' headlining set, but GB weren't the only legends on the bill. Two bands before them, Detroit's Negative Approach tore Knockdown Center a new one. John Brannon's bark somehow sounds even more evil now than it did on Tied Down, and NA's rhythm section is relentless. They played a nearly nonstop set of short, fast, and loud classics that really opened up the pit for the first time all day (and it stayed that way through the next two bands). Like with GB, tons of crowd members were younger than the songs NA were playing, but nothing ever felt dated. The songs are timeless and Brannon is as much a force of nature as he was when he wrote them.
In between Negative Approach and Gorilla Biscuits was a punishing set by Long Island's comparatively newer metalcore crushers Incendiary, whose pristine and superbly heavy chugs sounded like gunshots, and who brought out Primitive Weapons frontman (and Saint Vitus co-owner) David Castillo for a song. The day also included surfy punk from the fun-as-always Culture Abuse and riffy hardcore from the threatening Warthog. Pictures are in the gallery above.
After Death Match, Fury and Gouge Away headed to Saint Vitus for the unofficial aftershow. Did you catch that?
photos by Angela Owens