Thomas Pearson - vocalist of Foundation and founder of I Believe in Atlanta - wrote a guide for Hardcore Kids at The Wrecking Ball.
It's a lengthy read - but it is 100% worth it.
Don't say tldr, because we all know that it's Monday and you are only pretending to be working right now.
Sit back and scroll down to hear an opinionated piece on who to see and what to do at The Wrecking Ball ATL.
A Hardcore Kids guide to The Wrecking Ball
I want to preface this article stating something that should be extremely obvious from reading further: This is something I thought would be fun to write speaking strictly from the DIY hardcore point-of-view since there are a hundred bands playing over two days at one of Atlanta’s oldest venues. So here it is…an opinionated guide of what to watch at Wrecking Ball.
Everything kicks off Saturday at 3 p.m. in Purgatory with Wilkes-Barre, PA’s very own Westpoint. Why did I put them here when they don’t offer up a single breakdown or get-low riff on their entire recorded output? Because they’re sick! Featuring ex-members of United Youth, Westpoint come at you with that melodic hardcore punk aesthetic that only Wilkes-Barre can do. They have a new EP coming out on Triple-B Records this August and it’s pretty great. It has energy, hooks, and chorus’ for days. I highly recommend listening to their song “Redwood” and screaming the words in their face at the show.
From there you may as well go eat lunch or take a nap while Richmond’s Turnover lull you to sleep with their ambient-rock. But don’t forget to set an alarm because at 6 p.m. you have your pick of either Kingston, PA’s Title Fight at the Music Park or Northern California’s defunct on-again-off-again pivotal band Samiam in Heaven. If you’d like to be surrounded by hundreds of screaming teeny-boppers ruining their mascara while Jamie Rhoden shreds a Les Paul then you will want to catch Title Fight. If you would rather be shoulder-to-shoulder with guys growing beards and wearing flannels in August while they sip their PBR and spill it on you during the “punker” songs then go see Samiam. You may also catch one R. Wood heckling the band to play “Dull.”. Either set should be great but I would opt going to Heaven for the latter.
Don’t linger too long because at 6:40 p.m. on the dot Atlanta’s own Criminal Instinct (C.I.) will take the stage in Hell. They will, no doubt, play an unmerciful set that will include: humans acting like animals, ski masks, and an unapologetic view against a “cry-baby” world. You would be doing yourself an injustice by missing that. Since the average C.I. set lasts less than 20 minutes, you can double time it to the Music Park and catch Long Island’s most celebrated band (outside of Silent Majority) The Movielife. They are only playing this one-off show and will most definitely play songs off their classics: This Time Next Year and Forty Hour Train Back to Penn. If you can fit it in, check this set out and learn why Long Island has reigned supreme for so long over melodic hardcore.
After The Movielife you can head back down to Hell at 7:50 p.m. and see the newly-reunited Modern Life Is War (MLIW). The seminal, if not only, hardcore band from Marshalltown, Iowa. When MLIW came on the scene, it changed things. Some may argue for the worse, some for the better, but no one can argue the intensity of their live show and the sincerity in their performance. If you have lived in Atlanta for more than 8 years, here’s what you can expect: people you don’t like wearing cut off denim vests acting like they still care even though they “grew up” and moved on from hardcore. This band brings ‘em out, but it’s not MLIW’s fault so you should still hit as many stage dives as possible off the PA speakers.
At this point you’re probably physically and emotionally spent depending how much of your life you risked during the previously mentioned bands. Well, you can dry your tears and start swinging your fists cause New York City’s legendary Judge will be storming across the stage after MLIW at 9:10 p.m. Their set will no doubt be unruly from the second the opening drums from “Bringing It Down” come thundering at the audience. You will have no choice but to either run or fight for your life. This is the original “hard” Straight Edge band so bring your work gloves and dance hard or die!
Ok, so you pitted down the entire city of Atlanta but your significant other is feeling snubbed because they haven’t seen you all day. You two can head to the Music Park and cap off the first night of Wrecking Ball with a set from California’s The Descendents. Don’t have someone special? That’s okay, they have songs for you lonely losers, too. I don’t think I need to say much about this band because their music has spoken for itself for decades. Plus, if you’ve gotten this far into punk and hardcore without listening to them, well, I feel so bad for you. I’m crossing my fingers that they play “Good Good Things”.
Oh, you’re not tired? You had to work until 8? Well, have I got just the thing for you: An aftershow in Hell with Title Fight and Atlanta’s Foundation. (feels weird writing that.) These two bands spent an entire summer together on the road in 2009 and quickly became good friends, which is why this show is happening. As Foundation inches closer to their final show, the two bands wanted to share the stage once more in an intimate atmosphere. This show is bound to be awesome, so don’t hesitate getting your ticket because they are selling out fast! This should be your final stop before hitting Chinese Buddha for a late night vegan meal and bed.
I hope you got enough rest and had a big brunch cause your Sunday starts early with the gospel at the Music Park to catch Doyelstown, PA’s Superheaven or in Heaven to catch Atlanta’s Big Jesus at 2:00 p.m. Why would you see these bands? Because this is the music hardcore kids make when they want to try something new. For Superheaven and Big Jesus it’s not in vain. They are both pretty amazing. Besides, you can’t listen to Best Coast and Drake all the time...
Once you’re done getting your indie groove on you can go grab an afternoon cup of coffee and comeback at 3:40 p.m. to Heaven for West Hartford, CT’s Make Do and Mend. This is post-hardcore played at its most post, whatever that means. Regardless, they’re pretty good. Their set should be a good mix of people watching, including but not limited to: Tough guys, The youth crew, Teeny boppers, New wave Warped Tour participants, and PBR Beards. All of which will be singing along to salty songs about frosty New England. Perhaps that’s not your thing? You could always head to the music park at 4:00 p.m. and catch London, England’s Basement. This band seemed to explode overnight. I don’t know how, I don’t know why. What I do know is that they write awesome songs and will travel a long way to be here. What do they sound like? Ask your friends.
Next you will be faced with a true dilemma: do you go to Heaven to watch Foundation, or do you go to the Music Park and catch Boston’s Cave In, both playing simultaneously at 4:40/5:00 p.m. If you’re looking for stage dives and unruly masses, catch the Foundation set. If you’re hoping deep down in your bones that Cave In plays something off of Until Your Heart Stops, one of the most prolific hardcore records of the 90’s, then maybe hit the Music Park and cross your fingers. That band reinvented the breakdown no less than five times on that album, so it would be a real treat to hear them play those songs live. Then again, they could just assault you with songs from their space-rock albums, which are equally good. With Foundation, you know what you get. With Cave In, you roll the dice but who doesn’t like to gamble?
Once Cave In and Foundation have ceased to make noise, you can catch Glassjaw from Long Island in Heaven at 5:40 p.m. This band is quite polarizing amongst my friends. It might be because they were essentially a hardcore band that got extremely big and have a lot of really dedicated civilian “fans”. I personally love this band’s music. It hits hard and the singer has one of those awesome-crappy singing voices that only hardcore bands can produce. If they play “Babe” you can expect some really old guys to mosh in a way that resembles Hare Krishna festival dancing. All-in-all, it will be a very entertaining set.
The great thing about the last few bands is that they all perform in Heaven so there is no running around required. Once Glassjaw finishes you can just stay right where you are for Philadelphia’s Blacklisted. Legendary in their own right, Blacklisted has evolved from a NYHC-influenced band to something that I can’t even describe (because my knowledge of music is pretty limited.) While they still retain the energy of their simplistic roots, their music has become more and more layered with nuances and nods to other genres of music. This set is bound to be a powerful performance.
You made it! The end of two hectic days in Hell (and Heaven, and Purgatory, and, uh, the Music Park). And your reward? A set from one of Boston’s most important hardcore bands of the last twenty years: American Nightmare (AN). There is something special in knowing the last time AN played Atlanta was in 2003 on the exact stage they will be performing on Sunday night to close out Wrecking Ball. There wasn’t a soul alive who didn’t like this band when they were around. Even when they started changing up their sound people remained steadfast in their appreciation for AN. I have no doubt that this set will be crazy, one that people will talk about for some time after. Pace yourself for the weekend so you don’t have to tap out before the play “Please Die” or “I.C. you are feeling Drake”.
So there you have it, a guide to what’s going on with hardcore at The Wrecking Ball. Keep track of time and places and you’ll do just fine this weekend. See you in the pit…from behind the bass cab.