October 7, 2015 The Wrecking Ball 2015 Levels Atlanta, GA On Day One 8-8-15
The city of Atlanta, Georgia is not one to be lacking in historical culture. Most notoriously known for being burned to the ground by General Sherman’s troops in 1864, Atlanta is bursting with industrial antiquity. One peculiar aspect to the city’s post-Civil War era was the DuPree Excelsior Mill building, known today as The Masquerade. Twenty-five years after establishment in 1990, a beckoning rang through the ears of all the people in Atlanta, streaming through the atmosphere and reaching its way across all fifty states. It was a signal for something that no other venue in the state of Georgia has yet to offer – a Punk Rock music fest. Nothing in comparison to Shaky Knees or Music Midtown; what was to become of The Masquerade in August 2015 was much, much bigger. Uprooting from the rumors of the legendary music venue’s future dissolution came out with a bang and a blast – The Wrecking Ball.
Four whole months and seven days after the announcement of The Wrecking Ball, the pent up excitement and anticipation amongst fans could finally be released. Day 1 of Wrecking Ball commenced Saturday, August 8th, between 2 and 3 PM with opening acts in all four levels of the venue; suitably named: Hell (first/bottom floor), Purgatory (second/middle floor), Heaven (third/top floor), and the outside amphitheater Music Park. Melodic Indie and “Bummer” Punk bands such as Brick + Mortar and Atlanta’s own Blis. were some of the first to get the festival’s blood pumping.
Midway into the festival, playing on the Heaven stage, were Beach Slang and Pianos Become The Teeth. Heaven was very fitting for both bands. The room was cooler, although crowded, and both bands gave their audiences an ethereal performance. With no puns intended, Beach Slang’s music was beachy, airy, and raw. Vocalist and Guitarist, James Alex, gave it his all during the show; screaming at the top of his lungs and falling onto the floor, still playing, and fans adored it. They are currently on tour throughout the U.S. with a soon to be released album titled The Things We Do To Find People Who Feel Like Us. Up next on stage was Pianos Become The Teeth. A little more on the Post-Hardcore/Emo side of the spectrum, their gig consisted of dreamy melodies with a roughened edge to their lyrics. The band at present is covering a tour overseas in Europe, promoting their most recent album this year, Keep You.
Following soon after, outside at around 6 PM, was the immensely known Title Fight. Coming up from Kingston, PA, this Melocore decade-old band was more than ready to take off with songs off their third full-length album Hyperview, opening up with “Rose of Sharon.” Canorous, yet grungy, 2015’s Hyperview slows down time and gives the audience a glimpse into the more matured emotions of what Title Fight presents in the newly released album. The band, however, does not forget their roots, nor do they forget what captured the hearts of all listeners four years ago. Title Fight’s 2011 debut album, Shed, threw angsty teen punches into the air and into the speakers of kids’ MP3s. Classics like “27” and self-titled song “Shed” gave the listeners at Wrecking Ball an element to relive and reminisce. The band is currently on tour through October and November with stops at New Orleans’ Voodoo Music Experience and Fun Fun Fun Fun Fest in Austin, TX along the way.
Tailing in like a whirlwind from Hell blows in Atlanta Hardcore group Criminal Instinct. The hour of 7 PM could not come fast enough for all local and traveling fans alike. With lines waiting to get inside, people crowding around both sides of the stage and even on the stairs, the moment many Saturday showgoers were waiting for was about to transpire. Starting off with some crude tunes off their 2012 Demo, “Slow Roll,” “Hard Image,” and “Pace That Kills” is anything but passive. Criminal Instinct is notoriously known for in-your-face lyrics, punchy riffs, and not being afraid to jump into the crowd. The Masquerade’s downstairs pit was swarming with stage divers and microphone grabbers; not a chance went by that kids were not jumping on and off stage, all while singing along to their favorite songs. The band then decided to turn up the heat by performing some bangers straight off their first full-length album Fever. The bassy beginning of self-titled song “Fever” got the crowd going, continuing with “75s,” followed by “World So Full.” One thing to be noted about Criminal Instinct’s music and performance collectively would be this: be able to back up what you say, when you say it, and live that way for the rest of your days.
Starting up their set in the dark downstairs room of Hell with Darth Vader’s theme song playing as background noise, hails in the straight-edge Hardcore band from New York, Judge. After an imperative hiatus of twenty-two years, and having never before played in Atlanta, the crowd was more than ready to set it off. At 9 PM on the dot, Judge opened the pit with “Fed Up” off their first EP. Fans who have been loyal since the late ’80s to early ’90s compiled the front line of the stage. Although the members and early followers of Judge are no longer considered to be “in their prime,” age definitely did not show itself that night. The energy was just as intense as it ever was, with young and old joining together in circle pits and partaking in reuniting the fun throughout the whole entire gig. Judge played time-honored favorites off every album ranging from 1988’s New York Crew, to 1989’s Bringin’ It Down, and 1990’s There Will Be Quiet… before wrapping up their set with eponymous song “New York Crew” and finishing off with a cover of Blitz’s 1982 original “Warriors.” Judge may never be seen in the dirty south again, but the impression they left for the new-schoolers of Atlanta and The Wrecking Ball alike would be one to remember for a lifetime.
With the sun down and the August heat turning over for the night, the crowds rush their way outside to The Masquerade’s Music Park. Hearing chants of “Milo! Milo!” along with a dense murmur of commotion fogging in the air, the clock seemed to only be ticking in slow motion. The lights began to dim and twinkle as the last official hour of the festival turned its hand. At 10 PM, the crowd roared and cheered some more, and in an instant, the stage flashed back on like an explosion of stars. At last, the Descendents made their stomping, grand appearance.
The Descendents have long influenced Punk and Hardcore since 1977; crossing over from West Coast California all the way up and down the entirety of the East Coast. The fast, Surfer Punk melodies of “Hope” and “Myage,” along with many more from Milo Goes to College, paved the way for the rest of the show. Dynamic and charismatic Milo, along with the rest of the crew, kept up the pace for all the younger audiences involved; pulling from backstage mid-session a young boy to read Milo’s manifesto. The crowd of spectators cheered him on, laughed, and enjoyed themselves as he read off each “Thou shalt not…” before starting back up with big-hit song “Suburban Home.”
Not only are the Descendents famously known for their rowdy and rebellious lyrics and impact in the present-day Punk scene, but they are confessed hopeless romantics. Not hesitating to show their fans the softer side of Descendents, the band transitioned the night to slower love song essentials like “Clean Sheets” and “Silly Girl” from beloved 1985 album I Don’t Want to Grow Up and All. Performing an amazing twenty-eight songs in total, the band had everyone’s full attention throughout the diverse set. For those who have never seen this epic Punk band, there is still time as they are scheduled to play It’s Not Dead Fest on Saturday, October 10th, out in San Bernardino, CA.
Before everyone knew it, midnight had creeped around the corner. Most groups were heading their way out to catch a cab and some Zzz’s to prepare themselves for Day 2, but not everyone was ready to end the party just yet. The Wrecking Ball ATL still had some tricks up their sleeve for first day arrivers. Announced only on The Masquerade’s social media were three after-party shows including ’90s Alternative Rock band Hum, Title Fight, and Atlanta’s very own Foundation. All three bands attracted quite the crowd, some attendees even came solely for the after-party shows after not being able to make it to the official fest. Hum celebrated upstairs in Heaven, giving their fans some blasts from the past with hits like “Stars” off the 1995 album You’d Prefer an Astronaut. At the same time, straight-edge Hardcore band Foundation tore up what was left of Hell, followed by Title Fight. Foundation would end up putting on their main performance the next day, Day 2 of Wrecking Ball, but in the meantime they wanted to have some fun with the locals. Title Fight tagged along right behind Foundation, also downstairs in Hell, in case anyone missed them early on in the day.
Officially closing up around 2 AM, Day 1 of Wrecking Ball turned out to be a thoroughly exhaustive day of perfection in its finest element. The ending of Summer, the beautiful Atlanta skyline, some of the best food trucks in the city, and legendary bands brought it all to the perfection it was meant to be. Saturday soon turned to Sunday right under everyone’s noses, and technically, Day 1 never ended. The first day of Wrecking Ball 2015 was an all-out banger, leading the way for Day 2 to take its place.