December 29, 2014 Agnostic Front return to Long Island, NY 12-20-14
For over thirty years Agnostic Front has been the torchbearers of the New York hardcore scene. With the backbone of Agnostic Front being vocalist Roger Miret and guitarist Vinnie Stigma, the band has set the standard as the supreme example of the old school ways of working class hardcore. Days after entering Buzzbomb Sound Labs to begin recording their eleventh studio album, the band found themselves at Revolution Bar & Music Hall in Amityville, NY on Saturday December 20th, along with Demon Racer, Gangway!, Society’s Downfall, Tension, and direct support Bane. Drawing a sell out to the venue they have played many times in the past few years, the evening felt the way they did in the late ’80s and ’90s when the scene was at its peak.
With Demon Racer, Gangway! and Society’s Downfall leading the charge for the night early on, the energy level was high. By the time Suffolk Counties Tension hit the stage, things were completely revved up. On the scene since the early 1990’s, Tension consist of Mike Rubino (vocals), Joe Rubino (bass), Kenn Heiss (guitar), and Ron Cianculli (drums). Blaring out hardcore music from their latest album The End of All We Knew, Tension showed exactly why Long Island hardcore is alive and well.
Next, Worcester Massachusetts’ Bane was ready to light up the stage. Beginning as a side project side of then Coverge guitarist Aaron Dalbec and drummer Damon Bellardo, Bane has gone onto an impressive career which has spanned nearly two decades. Still going strong, their current lineup consists of Aaron Bedard (vocals), Zach Jordan (guitar), James Siboni (bass), Bob Mahoney (drums), along with Dalbec on guitar. Performing an earth shattering set that included newer songs like “Count Me Out” and “All the Way Through,” along with older anthem “Can We Star Again,” the band had everyone on the floor moving from start to finish. Their fourth and final studio album Don’t Wait Up is out now and a worthy addition to any hardcore dedicates collection. Bane left the boisterous crowd ready for Agnostic Front to bring them to a place where NYHC is the law.
The room erupted when Agnostic Front took the stage. Miret grabbed the mic, surrounded by Stigma on guitar, Mike Gallo on bass, newest member Craig Silverman of Blood For Blood and Slapshot fame, and Pokey Lo, formerly of NY hardcore legends Leeway, on drums. Like a shotgun blast the band ripped into their classic “Victim in Pain,” along with other essentials, like the fan-favorite “Crucified”, originally by Iron Cross. The venue was pure bedlam and the crowd responded by opening up the pit. Stage diving, old school breakdowns, and the feeling of a united hardcore scene had the old guard smiling as the new generation competed for the chance that Miret will shove the microphone in their face to scream the next words.
With Gallo’s high flying jumps and Stigma’s ear to ear grin, the night was nothing short of memorable. Roger took a moment to remind the crowd that not everyone is so fortunate during the holiday season, and that members of the audience should donate what they can to help the needy, pinpointing a local Long Island charity that takes donated bicycles and gives them to children. This was a true working class example that constantly reminds people that hardcore is a voice to air ones grievances, feel like they belong, and have a community. Everyone at Revolution seemed to be enjoying the night, even the poor guy that did a spinning heel kick in the pit and broke his leg. As he was rolled out on a stretcher, he was all smiles as if nothing happened.
Keeping the good vibes going, the band highlighted the album Victim In Pain (1984) which has been a hardcore staple since its release. With songs like “The Eliminator”, “United and Strong”, and “With Time” among others, it was enough to get this Long Island crowd’s head straight and tear the pit in half. As they charged forward with “Addiction”, the first track off Warriors (2007), the floor was covered with a mixture of sweat, condensation, and beer, and the crowd screamed the lyrics. Miret keeps an ever watchful eye as stage divers land into the arms of the crowd, later saying, “I watch when you jump off my stage and make sure you get picked up”. That is what hardcore is all about, getting picked up when one falls.
The evening at Revolution was what many can remember to that old feeling of “the way things used to be.” The crowd policed itself, stage dived, moshed, fell, and was back at it in seconds. Hardcore has always looked like a rough bunch, and yes, it is, but as Agnostic Front emphasizes, it is all about togetherness, caring about the people around them, taking challenges as the come, forging ahead, but never forgetting from where they came. This is what growing up in ’80s and ’90s taught many, that New York hardcore was a family. The family had standards and its bands and scene members all adhered to the organized chaos that was NYHC. This was a show to satisfy all fans of Agnostic Front. When a band has a career that has spanned almost thirty five years like Agnostic Front, it certainly is important to know their audience. They showed it at Revolution, focusing on the older part of their catalog while still keeping newer tunes apart of it all. Agnostic Front continues to show why they are the Kings of New York hardcore time and time again. Long live the Kings!