It happened a couple of nights ago. As soon as I walked towards the Teragram Ballroom in downtown LA and saw the venue's marquee with the words "California Takeover: Earth Crisis, Strife, Snapcase" in big bold letters, I felt a certain sense of pride. No, I wasn't playing in any of the aforementioned bands, but as someone who grew in the '90s seeing them all play countless times, it was a great feeling to see them all again on the same bill celebrating The California Takeover... Live, the 1996 album that they shared together.
The venue was sold out way in advance, an impressive feat for a place like LA where everyone's so jaded. Unfortunately, family duties kept me away and I missed both Hesitation Wounds and Magntitude, but after a few minutes of saying hello to friends in the theater, Snapcase took the stage.
The Buffalo hardcore stalwarts delivered their groove-obsessed material with laser-like precision. Seriously, the rhythm section of bassist Dustin Perry and drummer Tim Redmond held down a steady and fat pocket for guitarists Frank Vicario and Jon Salemi to do their thing. The stop/go dynamics that made Snapcase so fucking catchy back in the day has never been so fully realized, and I can't help to think that all of the years of doing it have made it so.
Aaron Bruno (Awolnation, Hometown Hero) joined the band for a song, but when AFI's Davey Havok appeared on stage to duet with Snapcase vocalist Daryl Tabersk on "Caboose," the place went nuts. Even though he didn't know all of the words, his crazed energy transcended it, and the front of the venue fought their way up to sing along.
Snapcase crafted a gem of a setlist that included "Cognition," "Zombie Prescription," and "Incarnation," among other songs.
It must have been a beautiful feeling for my dudes in Strife when they walked out to a warm greeting from their hometown crowd. The 2-day California Takeover 2020 event (all 3 bands also played a show in San Francisco the previous night) was organzied by Strife guitarist Andrew Kline, so he especially must have been floored by the warm vibes felt throughout the Teragram.
Since Strife's style of hardcore is so different from Snapcase's, the shift was felt, and vocalist Rick Rodney's unhinged stage performance upped the ante. The singer always leaves it all on stage, but that night, the combination of his delivery and the madman look in his eyes was particularyly terrifying.
At one point, Rick went into the crowd with his microphone and sang from the dance floor, all the while being enveloped by the audience members. I had a higher vantage point and the scenery made up by the sea of bodies surrounding the Strife frontman brought a huge smile to my face. I thought to myself, "I love hardcore."
By the time Strife's set was over, they reminded everyone in attendance why they were so important to our beloved scene. The fact that it went down in LA only made the moment all the more poignant.
Earth Crisis closed the night out in punishing fashion. Now, I've seen the band play throughout all of the different phases of their career, but there was something in the air on Sunday night. As soon as the seminal metallic hardcore quintet broke into song, the faithful inside the Teragram showed them they were there to participate.
Karl Buechner stalked the stage with a determined look in his eyes as he growled the words to setlist standouts like "The Wrath of Sanity," "All Out War," and "Forced March." While I was never a big fan of the nu-metallish "Slither" when it came out on the album of the same name in 2000, Earth Crisis' performance of it at the California Takeover 2020 convinced me to go back to the record for a fresh evaluation. The down-tuned groove of the song had my head bopping like a fool.
The California Takeover 2020 was always going to end with a certain song that most '90s hardcore heads would have probably guessed, and Earth Crisis didn't disappoint.
"Firestorm" was what most of us were waiting for, and as guitarists Scott Crouse and Erick Edwards, drummer Dennis Merrick, and bassist Ian Edwards laid down the song's ominous intro part, the floor opened up.
People lost their minds! It was a treat recognizing so many faces of all ages tearing it up with the band as "Firestorm" rang out through the theater.
After the show ended, all I saw was smiling faces as I exited the Teragram. It's always so interesting to me that such a brute style of music can still manage to make the people who love it feel so elated. Right before I got outside, I saw Andrew from Strife and congratulated him on the successful event.
Long live hardcore.