Together Fest is a yearly touring punk/hardcore festival curated by scene legend Walter Schreifels who plays in classic, influential bands like Gorilla Biscuits, Quicksand and tonight's headliners Youth Of Today. This year's bill features some of the best hardcore bands of all time as well as some promising newcomers and tonight it hits London's Electric Ballroom and makes for a night of chaotic thrills.
Wolf Down (Wolf X Down) kick off today with the meatiest, crunchiest of guitars and guttural vocals, causing pits at the very start of this gig. The bands themselves go quite mental with lots of leaps about the stage from the guitarists and stomping from their vocalist. Their sound doesn't reinvent the wheel, but it makes for a set full of fury and fun.
Vanishing Life stick out like a sore thumb on today's bill, but are also the pleasant surprise of the day. Fronted by Mr Schreifels, they deliver a sound that's part hardcore thanks to feisty speed and part spaced-out rock, due to hazy guitar effects. There's a punch to this band, but you can also get lost in their music. The band perform fittingly with Schreifels fiercely striding around the stage whilst bassist Autry Fulbright pulls out some funky moves, bopping to the ground, whilst pumping out swinging, thick basslines.
Trash Talk bring, hands down, the set off the day. This band are notorious for dangerous, balls-to-the-wall shows, but even by their standards this was utter bedlam. Highlights of this set included frontman Lee Spielman getting in the crowd, getting them to sit down then leap up into a ferocious pit; people going to stage dive, despite there being a barrier, something Spielman had to convince security to allow and then a stage invasion to finish things off. In-between each of these jaw-dropping moments was just furious moshing and circle pits to thrashy hardcore ragers like 'Envy' and 'Sacramento Is Dead.' Truly terrifying and electrifying.
American Nightmare are one of the most key hardcore bands of all time, who brought a new level of cathartic despair to the genre, thanks to Wes Eisold's poetically vulnerable lyrics, but how savage he delivers them, which has been highly influential on following hardcore bands such as Dead Swans and Defeater. Hence why, it's a shame that barely anyone seems to care today, with only a handful of people amongst a few hundred dancing or being at the front yelling along. This is probably down to American Nightmare playing so rarely as well as the fact that that they haven't put out a record since 2003. With that being said, the people who are yelling along to every single word, you can tell this means everything to them because of the connection they've made with American Nightmare's most powerful of songs. The band themselves deliver too, with Eisold constantly looking like he's having an epileptic fit, flopping and flailing everywhere, whist the rest of the band deliver punchy, go-getting riffs and rhythms that won't back down.
Vegan/straight edge youth crew godfathers Youth Of Today are a band who, on paper, have the odds against them having not put out a record since 1990 and being quite a bit older than the rest of today's bands, in a scene where youthful spirit is a key factor. However, whilst Youth Of Today play, absolutely none of that matters. Youth Of Today still very much feel like the youth of today. Their energy puts most bands half their age to shame with frontman Ray Cappo doing a lot of hand stands, jumping around the stage and going to crowdsurf, in-between his psychotic screeches. This is the rewards of the vegan/straight edge life. Likewise, bassist Schreifels and guitarist John Porcelly are constantly jumping around the stage and victoriously swinging fists between notes. All of this whilst delivering raw, scrappy anthems which the crowd get giddy for, getting the chance to see these legendary songs, seeing them being done with such heart and passion. Youth Of Today's message is that the world isn't perfect, action has to be taken and you must do the best by yourself as well as the best by others. This message is reinforced by Cappo's heart-warming speeches between songs and how relevant that message still is today, which is why this band are still playing these songs with such drive and why they're received with such enthusiasm even in 2017.
This day was a blast with each band being solid at the very least and life changing at best. Sick Of It All once said 'old school, or the new, doesn't mean sh*t if your heart's not true' and today showed that whether it's a band that have been going a few years or a band that have been going a few decades, the power of punk is best utilized by bands that put passion and energy above anything else.
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