Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Trapped Under Ice/Mother of Mercy/Cruel Hand/Naysayer/Forfeit @ The Barbary in Philly

It's not every day that a tour of this caliber is put together, featuring four different bands that are all capable of headlining their own shows. As an added bonus, Wilkes-Barre's Mother of Mercy were added last minute due to Maximum Penalty having to drop off the bill. From the moment I saw this line-up, I knew I had to make the drive out on a cold Tuesday night.

I was surprised to see the turnout for a weeknight show in January, and even when I walked in at around 7 P.M. there was a decent crowd. As the evening went on, the venue became packed, especially by the time headliners Trapped Under Ice from Baltimore hit the stage. The Barbary still had the remnants from a New Year's Eve party held there, with signs and decorations still hanging, along with mini disco balls dotting the ceiling. The bar was completely wrapped up for a hardcore show, with the beer taps covered in a garbage bag stating "No alcohol, don't even ask," so appropriate for an event like this.

The overall size of this venue is fairly small, but perfectly fine for hardcore shows, even with popular bands such as these. One of my favorite features is the venue being split in two different rooms, allowing the bands ample room to store their gear and set up merch tables. The main room is tight enough to force everyone to be close to the action, but still space for mosh. PA systems and sound quality can usually suffer in many hardcore shows, but The Barbary has some of the better audio for smaller clubs in the area.

Anyone who attends hardcore shows regularly can easily tell when bands put in 100% effort for a performance. The best part of this line up was the amount of energy and anger put into each set. While the floor remained mainly dormant for the first two bands, Forfeit and Naysayer, it had no effect on the members on stage. You could feel the tension and anticipation building up to the evening's headliner, Trapped Under Ice.

Forfeit from Syracuse, NY and Naysayer from Richmond, VA are both on the forefront of tough, gritty hardcore, and their live performances echo the heaviness of their album releases. Heavily influenced by older New York hardcore, Naysayer's vocalist, Gary Gunwald, growled through their set as the band played nearly every song in their catalog. Personally, I can't wait for both of these bands to receive further recognition and support, and anyone who hasn't seen them live yet should be sure to catch the next tour.

Next up were Cruel Hand of Portland, ME and locals Mother of Mercy. Each band hit the stage hard and forced the crowd to start moving. As Cruel Hand tore through favorites such as "Under the Ice" and "Begin Descension" the ground began to rumble as people flew side to side, opening the pit and pushing people into action. Singer Bob Wilson of Mother of Mercy roared through their songs, screaming with fury during "Back to the Agony" and "Pulled Under." One drawback during their set was the malfunctioning mic, which started to cut out during the last few songs. Also, the band was missing one guitarist for almost the first half of the set, which was noticeable to people familiar with the band.

Trapped Under Ice rounded out the bill, coming on quickly and keeping the energy high throughout their 25 minute set. You could literally feel their presence radiating from the stage, inspiring the crowd to react; singing, moshing and stage diving. The mix of songs for this tour was also done well as the band played songs from their demo and Stay Cold, along with a number of selections from the new LP, Secrets of the World. The evening finished with "Believe," as the crowd sang along loudly and bodies sailed off the stage until the final chord.

I was impressed with the turnout and high energy of the evening, and The Barbary continues to prove an entertaining and quality venue to see shows. I left tired, hungry, and satisfied with my experience. What more can you demand for $10?