December at THE GARAGE got off to a grinding start with a host of metalcore bands and others of that ilk, trying their best to shake the place apart—brick-by-brick, bolt-by-bolt.
They came in from all over the upper-Midwest—from Chicago (Evelynn), Rochester (Fail to Decay), Oshkosh (The End Result), Wausau (Render the Wastelands), Eau Claire (Our Judgment), and “Here & There, MN” (ChugChugWob). They left the building trembling and unplugged ears ringing.
For those uninitiated in metalcore, it’s the sonic confluence between metal and the hardcore sounds pioneered by bands like Bad Brains and Black Flag. There’s screaming; furious double bass drum; galloping, drop-tuned guitars; brutal, foot-stomping breakdowns in the middle of it all.
First act, ChugChugWob, flipped metalcore’s staple breakdowns on their heads, often filling them with dubstep breakbeats, to which their fans could pop and kick and swing arms. During their last song two in the audience were set for a blind collision, but at the last moment they whipped in opposite directions, as if communicating by echolocation.
The End Result vocalist Michael Dionne stalked the stage, backed by wailing guitar riffs and coordinated guitar swings—the fretted necks wielded like clubs. Their set was emotionally raw and technically tight. An ear-splitting pleasure.
Render the Wasteland unleashed deep grooves and double bass drumming straight out of two 30mm Bushmasters. The band has an uncanny ability to stop on a dime midsong and blast in another direction as if they aren’t governed by the same laws of inertia as the rest of us.
Evelynn was windmilling their guitars and collectively jumped approximately 11-billion times. They. Put. On. A. Show. Lords of the bass drop.
Fail to Decay’s songs sound like they were composed in movements, like something too epic for disc. One movement blends into another, so they sound organic, rather than intentional. Their songs are alive, though they’re built on death vocals and drones. Throw in a guitarist whose fingers hate to sit still and an ethos that reminded me of the seminal New York crust band Nausea, and Fail to Decay really won me over.
Last, was a possessed performance from Our Judgment. They loaded their own construction lamps and 18-inch light box on stage that cast shadows across vocalist Jake Olson’s face, making him appear from another world entire. They gave a tight and rich performance, though they were down a guitarist. I credit their attention to detail—I can count on one hand how many times they turned their backs on the audience. It formed a unique connection with the crowd Saturday night. One I won’t forget any day soon.
Another night of impressive metal at THE GARAGE. Come. Get. Some.
Photos © Emma Jeanson