From the beginning, just due to headliners Four Year Strong (and the fact the tour is sponsored by AP), I knew it was going to be a young crowd. However, I didn’t anticipate it being such a young crowd that the show started at an absurdly early time for a weekday evening, and by the time I arrived The Swellers were already wholeheartedly thanking the crowd for showing up so early to watch them play.
El Corazon – Seattle, WA – 1 November 2011
But the real gem of the tour was up next, and the began the evening with an interesting tone. Title Fight made quite the wave in the punk community with their excellent release Shed, and the young upstarts have also managed to do what random bands tend to do every now and then — get completely embraced by the narrow horse blinders of the hardcore community. The four-piece stormed through their set, comprised mostly of material from Shed, but did it without the standard preaching and inspirational, individualistic statements that tend to interlude hardcore sets. Watching Title Fight, whose love for pop-punk soft spots Lifetime shine on their sleeves, made me wish I were 18 again — and not some jaded ex-punk with a balky hip. There is something to be said for that special kind of energy. A lot of bands from one’s youth can make even the oldest of old punks want to dive headfirst into that pit, but it takes a special kind of sound for a new band to inspire such nostalgia. Title Fight is the soundtrack to your youth even if you’ve never been there.
The popular hardcore act from across the pond, Gallows, were up next. But the band is no longer the popular hardcore act from across the pond; as newly minted frontman Wade MacNeil (ex-Alexisonfire) said, “We are Gallows, a band from the UK by means of Canada.” Gallows were the odd pick for this tour, as the excessively young crowdgoers weren’t quite aware of what they were viewing (which was an English powerhouse that have received praise for how they’ve worked the music industry in ways reserved for the Sex Pistols). Gallows are harsh, abrasive, evil, and very English. The band snarled and spit their way through a very short, but very energetic, thirty-minute set, with both MacNeil and guitarist Steph Carter hopping into the crowd during “London is the Reason.” This US tour is a big moment for Gallows since their original vocalist Frank Carter left the band due to creative differences. As the band launched into “Orchestra of Wolves” to close out the set, it became apparent that MacNeil, while doing a great job of howling into the microphone, just doesn’t fill the void that Carter left. He isn’t abrasive enough. He doesn’t have the maniacal eyes shooting “fuck you” daggers into everyone he looks at (seriously: read the lyrics to “Orchestra of Wolves” and ask yourself if the singer of Alexisonfire would ever dream of writing such things). It’s an unfortunate thing, as Gallows have the potential to set the world on fire and watch it burn. They already did that to Warner Brothers after releasing Grey Britain… but MacNeil seems to lack the fire to do such things.
Four Year Strong
Which then leads into Four Year Strong, and the overall oddity of this package tour. With Four Year Strong shirts abounding, most in the crowd were visibly there to see them. But where Title Fight take their hardcore past seriously by means of their influences, and Gallows take their hardcore seriously by means of their absurd amounts of anger, Four Year Strong do not take their hardcore seriously — because they are not a hardcore band. They are a pop-punk band, who some people fail to argue as having hardcore tendencies. The odd make-up of the crowd was shattered, and the less-than-stuffed El Corazon (I’ll blame the Tuesday night and the sort of high ticket prices) gained a few more patrons. It was unfortunate, because the 90% of the crowd that was there to see Four Year Strong had a 0% participation rate for Title Fight and Gallows — two bands that definitely deserve the appreciation, at least musically, for taking chances that the headlining band doesn’t take.
But considering what is popular in today’s youthful ears, I guess that is why Four Year Strong are the headliners.