Tonight`s event kicks off at the ungodly hour of 6 pm but this venue runs a successful metal and rock club night so choose to enhance their income and profile with early evening gigs on a weekend.
As there is only one other rock bar in town, I can appreciate getting the bands on and off in a timely fashion and the essential income that comes through an input of regular supporters.
First up are Californian powerhouse Tarah Who? a trio tonight with singer- songwriter and guitarist Tarah Carpenter fronting them. We enjoy thirty minutes of grunge tinged punk rock with tracks such as the pounding thumping `Royal Knight`, racing `Pantomath` and what I think is `Ache` closing out the set which becomes a bit of a band jam. I was really looking forward to seeing these but was disappointed in the snarky comments the singer made as to the early start and sparse crowd. Russian symphonic rockers Imperial Age played a headline show a week before to less people and this exiled band seemed to appreciate the crowd and not attempt to try and antagonise them. I have to say this really put me off this outfit, although I recognise what a potentially great band they could be, I won`t be rushing out to see them again. I`m sure many local bands would have relished the opportunity to support the legends Madball and Life Of Agony.
By the time New York hardcore quartet Madball hit the stage it`s clear that tonight`s show is sold out as there`s hardly room to move. The band who comprise Freddy Cricien, Jorge “Hoya Roc” Guerra, Mike Justian and Mike Gurnari share a masterclass of how to work a crowd and it`s a sheer delight to watch this happen over the next forty minutes. Lead singer Freddy prowls the stage and skips around as if he`s in his teenage years. He asks as to how many of the crowd are seeing the band for the first time and a fair few hands are raised gingerly as the frontman welcomes all of us to the Madball family. There were songs like `Set it off`, `lockdown`, `Across your face` and `Spit on your grave` from all the way back to the band`s first album blended with newer cuts. Tracks like `Infiltrate the system` and `Stand Up New York` had the faithful screaming, fist pumping and massive circle pits forming but there was a sense of comradeship at all times as if there was a common goal tonight to have fun. I have to admit that time spent with Madball is brutal but hugely entertaining and uplifting and sadly tonight all too brief.
Life Of Agony probably don`t need an introduction but they are an American alternative metal band whose debut album “River Runs Red” was hailed a masterpiece of alternative rock. A concept album, which told the story of an unnamed troubled Brooklyn teenager who attempts suicide to escape the pain of his existence. Indeed, it was listed at number 58 in Rolling Stone’s 100 best ever metal albums and tonight we get to hear it in its entirety.
As the first track `This Time` kicks in this heaving crowd are singing along with every word as if it`s a religious mantra. I`m sure we all have our favourites whether it`s `Underground`, title track `River Runs Red`, `Words and Music`, `Respect` or `The Stain Remains` tonight this quartet shared them all with the ferocious passion they deserved. It`s an hour of sheer intensity but nevertheless the band are encouraged to return to the stage and do so to share the churning `Other Side of the River`, my favourite number the stunning `Scars`, edgy `Let’s Pretend`, `Lost at 22` before leaving us with another of my favourites `Weeds`.
This New York quartet has experienced highs and lows throughout their career with splits, line-up changes and reformations but the current alignment of originals in singer Mina Caputo, bassist Alan Robert and guitarist Joey Z along with drummer Veronica Bellino seems to have brought some stability to the band. It`s been over three years since I last saw this band and on the size of this evening`s crowd and strength of tonight`s performance i`m sure you`ll struggle to gain a ticket next time they visit.