Hardcore and Metal X Showcase Rocks Higher Ground
It was the scene of the Higher Ground “Hardcore and Metal Showcase X,” hosted by the Boys and Girls Club of Burlington and MakeItHappen. The band on stage was a group from Portland, ME called Absence of the Sun, who traveled to play before VT local favorites Blinded by Rage and Forever they Said.
Although the music and the scene were both foreign to me, the energy cycling from the hyped-up crowd to the performing musicians was contagious. The fast melodies and indecipherable screaming that characterized the music of the night reflected a true “I’ll Do What I Damn Well Please” attitude. Among Mohawks and blue hair, there were also a lot of X tattoos and shirts within the crowd. The symbol represents the Straight Edge, substance free lifestyle, which is more deviant in today’s society than succumbing to the cliché rebellion of getting high and drinking. Although I’m unsure of the performer’s affiliation with the Straight Edge movement, I will say that last Sunday night’s crowd was the most energetic, insane and responsive one that I have ever seen. It came naturally, driven by passion alone.
The all ages show seemed to be attended by mostly high school aged students whose energy filled the room even if physical presence did not. And although the bar was open, it was not getting much attention. The merchandise tables were lined along the side wall and the frontman from Forever they Said pleaded between songs that, “We’re all poor--so check out the merchandise.” The bands performed in front black backdrop with red light illuminating the stage.
VT’s own Blinded by Rage was next up on the stage, equipped with a full video crew that was recording the performance for a live DVD. An audio track of Psalm 23:4 coupled with what sounded like some kind German speech started the first song called “Severance”. The bass and drums punched a fast rhythm while the guitar added quick and impressive licks in-between vocal growls and power chords. The band drew the crowd closer with commands like, “Did you come to see a show or not?”
The crowd responded by filling in gaps and once again throwing their hands in the air. The band played through a short set with a full sets worth of raw energy. They prompted the crowd to make raucous circle pits and at one point had the crowd split down the middle only to have them come rush into each other at the striking of the next chord. Blinded by Rage really lived up to their reputation of unrelenting energy. They left the crowd with just enough vigor to rock out to that night’s last performance.
Forever they Said took the stage afterwards and immediately thanked the other performers and the crowed for coming out on a Sunday night. The young, five-person band started with a song called “Verona,” which began with just guitar and picked up the drums and vocals, continuing to get heavier as it grew. With frequent stops, breakdowns and a quick repeated guitar riff, “Verona” was one of the best songs I heard all night. The group went on the play “Undead at 11” and “From a Whisper” rocking the same unbridled energy with which they had started. The crowd reflected the vibe back and danced in appreciation. The band ended the night with a song called “Ascension,” which was dedicated to flannel shirts. The song included vocals from members of the other bands that came out for the showcase.