Outside a tiny pastry shop in the Lower East Side, hordes of teenagers and middle-aged adults crowded around 52 Ludlow Street’s aptly named Cake Shop. Inside, vegan cupcakes and vinyl records were for sale to those lucky enough to make it through the door–The Hope Conspiracy had sold out all 250 tickets in advance, turning away at least that many at the door who were unaware of the not-so-routine-for-a-patisserie-ticket-presale.
Pennsylvania’s Mother of Mercy kicked off the evening with their metal-riffed hardcore. Sharing a similar–albeit smaller–fanbase with co-headliners Blacklisted, the band received a warm welcome from the New York City hardcore scene. Promoting their debut record, III (Six Feet Under Records), the band tore into the Cake Shop crowd and deservedly left the city with a new set of fans.
United Nations–tonight as Geoff Rickly handling vocals, Lukas Previn and Jonah Bayer on guitars , Ben Koller on the skins, and The Hope Conspiracy’s Jim Caroll filling in on bass–played next. Mixing up unreleased new songs (due on an upcoming 7″) and cuts from their self-titled 2008 debut, the band exhibited no lack of energy during their explosive set. Koller’s fantastic drumming and the driving spastic blasts from Previn, Bayer, and Caroll paradoxically laid a foundation for chaos. Rickly’s vocals were barely audible, but his impassioned screams and relentless cries made for an intense affair. Home 33’s Ryan Bland joined Rickly midway through the set to deliver a pummeling dual-vocal assault before diving into the crowd. The band returns to the stage for just their fifth performance ever on February 12 at Brooklyn’s Union Pool.
As (relatively) popular as United Nations seems to be–it does draw fans from the (comparatively) enormous Thursday, Glassjaw, and Converge–Blacklisted took the show to new heights. Fans of the Philadelphia hardcore outfit climbed on top of each other for a chance to sing with frontman George Hirsch, tearing down the decorative Christmas lights adorning the ceiling in the process; heavy palm-muted riffs found the rest of the crowd slamming into each other through drum-heavy breakdowns. Songs from the new No One Deserves To Be Here More Than Me were welcomed with open arms, but cuts from the band’s earlier records received the biggest response.
Properly warmed up for the impending onslaught of The Hope Conspiracy by three excellent opening acts, the Cake Shop crowd packed as close to the “stage” (really just a rug with some amplifiers) as possible for the Boston hardcore band. Flowing across cuts from their entire discography, including the brand new True Nihilist EP, The Hope Conspiracy wasted no time and took no prisoners in front of a rabid crowd. Pits were forcibly opened by reckless kicks to nearby heads; the crowd would nearly overflow into the aforementioned stage during every breakdown, of which there are absolutely no shortages. The band was tight, with breakneck riffs and thundering drums laying the ground for Kevin Baker’s unremitting vocals.
By night’s end, anyone who wasn’t exhausted from the melee travelled to Brooklyn’s 538 Johnson (another intimate “venue”) for encore performances by Mother of Mercy and Blacklisted. The sold-out Cake Shop picked up its pieces and emptied out, with patrons browsing the pastry selection and small vinyl collection on their way out. The venue–and indeed the bands–aren’t for everyone, but those with a true appreciation of punk and its DIY-ethics would be hard-pressed to find a more honest, sincere, and absolutely incendiary show so far in 2010.
All photos by the incredibly dedicated and talented Brian C. Reilly.