Wrapping up a weekend of sold-out shows appropriately titled “Fifteen Year Plan” to celebrate the band’s decade-and-a-half existence, H2O took to Brooklyn’s Knitting Factory for a Sunday punk-rock matinée. The new Knitting Factory, which replaces the venue of the same name located in Manhattan, offered the veteran hardcore act a chance to play in front of a tiny crowd without barriers or security guards preventing fans from climbing on stage.
The band’s performance began with the familiar words of “5 Year Plan”, the entire crowd singing along: “My friends look out for me like family, my mom’s been struggling since I was three. Am I scared, am I pushed, am I worried? Another day, another year, so what’s the hurry?” Aptly bridging the past with the present, 2008’s Nothing to Prove lead-off track “1995” followed. By “Family Tree”, vocalist Toby Morse was clearly exhausted and tired from the weekend-long celebration; no matter, the frontman invited everyone and anyone who knew the words to take lead vocals and perform the song as he rested his voice.
Thicker than Water cuts “Everready” and “I See It In Us” found the entire crowd dancing along; title tracks from 1999 (“Faster than the World”) and 2008 (“Nothing to Prove”) were excellent. The setlist took a strange turn as the band recalled Ice Cube’s “It Was a Good Day”, running through a punk version of the classic hip-hop tune. Guitarists Todd Morse and Rusty Pistachio put the riffs together for “Bad Boys” — an Inner Circle song most widely known as the theme song to COPS — as Toby fumbled through the extremely brief cover.
“One Life One Chance” was dedicated to Toby’s upcoming project to promote the PMA (positive mental attitude, a foundation to the posi-hardcore genre), and the band worked through a few older songs (including excellent renditions of “Guilty by Association” and “Like a Prayer”) before surprisingly closing the show with “What Happened?” from the band’s most recent album. The full twenty-two song setlist:
5 Year Plan
Family Tree–multiple singers
I See It In Us
Faster than the World
Nothing to Prove
Thicker Than Water
It Was a Good Day (Ice Cube cover)
Bad Boys (Inner Circle cover)
Spirit of ’84
Heart On My Sleeve
One Life One Chance
Guilty by Association
Like a Prayer
With Toby sharing vocals with anyone ready to take the microphone, H2O’s performance — recorded by Bridge 9 Records for a potential live album — was especially intimate and unique. The fifteen-year celebration was well-deserved: it is apparent that H2O is still as passionate about their music and their fans as ever.
All photographs credit to Discard This Message Photography. Please visit their website for more amazing photos from the evening.