Last night, we checked the pulse of South Florida's hardcore scene by attending another one of Breakeven Booking's excellent show offerings at the Talent Farm in Pembroke Pines. This particular edition of weeknight hardcore featured the live debut of three local bands and two of California's rising stars of the core, Santa Barbera's Downpresser, and Reaper Records' thrash-crossover darling, Take Offense.
The first of the 3 bands debuting on last night's show was Meth Mouth, a young trio that played a raucous set of skate-punk influenced hardcore to a surprisingly large and responsive early crowd. A rare opening band mosh broke out before the first lyric was barked and the band's performance set the bar high for the rest of the evening.
Meth Mouth's hectic set was followed by Guilty Conscience, a band that features Breakeven Booking's own John McHale on lead vocals. The group began its set with an introduction nicked from the tail end of Right Brigade's self titled EP, and continued on with an energized set of hardcore in the youth crew vein. The songs were rife with two-step beats and sliding power chords, and McHale appeared to be displeased by occasional mosh pauses on the audiences' behalf. At one point, he tossed a crowd member into the fray as he lightheartedly yelled for the kid to "fuckin' move it, you bum."
Next to claim the floor -- almost always used in lieu of the Talent Farm's tall stage for hardcore shows -- was Steam. The crowd that had excused themselves to mill about the parking lot during time between bands was briefly abuzz with the inaccurate rumor that late '90s Florida hardcore band Esteem was next to perform. However, Steam made up for the disappointing reality by throwing down a set of socially conscience punk-hardcore that once again made the Talent Farm's young patrons lose their collective shit in a mosh melee.
Lead singer and guitarist, David Voss, contextualized the song "Consumer" with a short and disdainful monologue about how people give up on their dreams to "become business majors and sell others' shit" in a moment that reminded us that hardcore at its best is a platform for thoughts and opinions to be expressed and shared, rather than a self-referential excuse to mosh the snot out of others.
Losin' It was the last of the locals to open the show. This band is gaining some national recognition for its take on the youth crew style, however, the response to its set was surprisingly less hectic than we've come to expect. While that's not to say that the crowd was entirely stagnant, the band's fans and friends generally turn the Talent Farm into the churning maelstrom of mosh. The band might have been a little tired out, considering that every opening act shared members with Losin' It, but we enjoyed the set none-the-less.
Downpresser revived the crowd and stoked the room into a frenzied whirlwind of fists and elbows with its chunky riffs. The band's sound references the second wave of New York hardcore, and was well appreciated by the older members of the audience.
The intro to "Dirt Cheap" was accented by the sounds of limbs striking faces and feet stomping the carpeted floor as Downpresser's set continued to pick up momentum. Lead vocalist, Dan Weinraub, gave a thanks to the crowd before proclaiming that the show was "dangerously close to being my favorite show of this tour so far."
Weinraub was charismatic between songs and offered the suggestion that people "take inventory" of their lives and goals before they "make a fucking mistake," while discussing how Downpresser almost dissolved into a studio project when he and his mates all took serious jobs. The set closed with "Disillusioned," and a crowd so heavily entrenched in the mosh that a small scuffle broke out. The fight ended quickly and everything returned to normal, but it was definitely a tribute to how heavy the song was and the rage it inspired around the room.
The combination of hardcore and thrash-metal is a tried and true splicing of styles that is the sonic equivalent of a good slice of pizza. While things don't change or evolve much here, it's always satisfying (even when mediocre). And when it is done well, it's a nonpareil form of the heavies.
Fortunately, Take Offense's contribution to the style is far from mediocre, making the band a favorite of the hardcore disciples that had been there for the first wave of thrash-crossover and young fans alike. The group brought the head-banging riffs and whammy bar histrionics to the Talent Farms floor. The band blended in with the thick crowd in the synergistic way only found at hardcore shows. It dropped tracks from its impending full length, United States of Mind, to a huge reaction from the crowd. There were circle pits, dirty riffs, high fives, and launch pad assaults galore.
The band closed the night with "No Tomorrow," and as soon as the song's opening divebomb dropped, the crowd lost it one final time, demonstrating styles and thrashing the shit out one another to the chunky track.