A hardcore double header weekend. Sort of. Friday is part of the weekend, right? To some people? Thursday is commonly known as college Friday. I’m an adult with no consistent schedule that dropped out of art school three times, so none of this is relevant.
Night One: Vein.fm, Thirdface, The End of Everything, Dredge
A punk is never late, nor are they early. They arrive precisely when they mean to. However, running on punk time typically doesn’t work out in my favor. This time was no different as the show started at time listed on the flier and I missed the first two bands. I made my way to the bar filled with an equal mix of the regular veterans playing pool and a sea of black shirts in line with their sights set on a modern IPA or fruity Hefeweizen, only to be met with a confused bartender; eventually settling for a Bud Light.
I hear the tuning song playing in the distance and that’s my cue to find a comfortable space to settle in front of the stage with my camera. I had a few exposures of color film leftover from a portrait session in my camera I had to kill off. With my style, color doesn’t really translate well with live show photos so I think these images are boring.
Thirdface, on the other hand, were far from it. Interesting riffs, progressions, and driving bass lines straight from Nashville with a typeface reminiscent of a Keith Haring mural on the wall of a New York City subway station. They had my full attention during their entire set.
I killed off that roll during their set so I switched over to my trusty Ilford hp5 and chatted with them outside. There’s a security light on the corner of the building providing the perfect amount of light for a portrait. A side note for film photographers processing film at home: use distilled water for all rinsing, otherwise you’ll look as dumb as me with hella mineral deposits on your negatives.
Vein.fm up next. I’m pretty excited to see them. I’ve never taken the opportunity to see them live before, and was hooked years ago after seeing the hate5six video of their set at This Is Hardcore with a windbreaker laden crew moshing and stage diving the entire time. It reminded me of a Throwdown video from Showcase Theatre in the '90s with the mosh crew uniform. I can’t find it on YouTube, but in my distant memory it might be on their DVD.
*No mic stands were harmed in the making of the portrait above.
Night Two: Drain, Ingrown, Pain of Truth, Vamachara, Scutiny
I had tasks this day and was on a warpath completing them. Everything was going my way, baby—50 cents off gas with my Smith's grocery rewards card, free tall iced oatmilk vanilla latte extra shot from Starbucks at my local casino, and $50 in promo chips that goes in the stack waiting for when I have a free day and a big enough bankroll to take ‘em for everything they got, up the 163 to the 95 with no traffic the entire way to Vegas, pit stop off the 215 for an amazon berry smoothie with maca from the Green Valley Ranch Whole Foods, up the 15 to Flamingo to check into a suite I got for Drain. My good times could only last so long.
“First I am born, then the trouble begins.”
The days of wine and roses are over. My rooms are no longer complimentary, but still significantly cheaper than your typical motel off the side of a highway somewhere north of Redding on an overnight drive to Seattle. Either someone at Caesars reads No Echo or these things run on a monthly basis because I got a free room toward the end of February and I haven’t really gambled to the compulsive extent that I used to in some time.
The first room I checked in to was described to me as “the older tower, but classic and comfortable.” When I got up there it smelled very… musky and reminiscent of a typical motel off the side of a highway somewhere north of Redding on an overnight drive to Seattle. I request a new room in the recently remodeled tower but when I get up there it turns out to be under construction with tools scattered everywhere. Third time’s a charm. The next room is quaint with a beautiful view of the drained pool out of commission for the cold spring season.
I’m out of film and make my way up Valley View, take a left on Sahara to swing by B&C Camera. They’re out of Ilford and I’m distraught. My next go to is Kodak Tri-x and holy shit. You’re feeling the pain at the gas pump? I’m feeling the pain at the film counter. One roll is $10 now. I gotta hit an ATM before the gig and stop by my bank conveniently on my route. This one is the kind that’s within the front door but just outside the second set of doors to the lobby.
An overwhelming smell hits me right as I step inside and see that a homeless man has taken shelter in this space. Smart guy, it’s like his own little studio apartment. I don’t want to blow up the spot and I could very easily have sought out a different ATM, but I couldn’t really think straight at the sight of something so unexpected. I apologize while trying to respect the man’s space and just try to complete my transaction as swiftly as possible.
Then I notice a crack pipe on the ground right next to him. The smell that was initially indistinguishable now makes sense. He asks for some money and I can’t say no because I’ve literally got my hands full of it. So, I drop him a five and run out of there.
I’m immediately nauseous and dizzy. Realizing I was just in a confined space in the process of being hotboxed, it hits me that I accidentally did crack secondhand. I am going to die. Uncertain of what could alleviate my current state, I remember that eating always feels great after smoking weed and having not really eaten a full meal in a couple days makes this situation less than ideal. I stop for some tacos and drink a gallon of water. It doesn’t help.
I get to the venue on time before any of the bands start, try to play it cool and greet friends feigning any amount of cheer and quickly make my way to the bathroom. My head is spinning but I find a pleasant space to center myself and puke. This is disconcerting and I’m having difficulty finding the appeal in this drug. The bartender remembers my name from my tab the other night and says hello as I stumble out of the bathroom.
I explain my dilemma and she set me up with some ibuprofen and some more water. I request a shot of Jameson as well, to which she heavily recommends against but reluctantly abides. The customer is always right.
The sound of feedback begins raising with a subtle sound clip of the kid I referenced in my previous show write up repeating “It’s fun to do bad things." Local kings Scrutiny are about to begin their set.
I had a rough time keeping my cool during their set. Nevertheless, I persisted. Vamachara is up next but I need to sit down. I listen to them from a seat at the bar with my head on the bar. I am now a central part of your mind’s landscape. Okay, enough of that. They sound good, and gradually the mosh casualties begin trickling in. Bloody noses and busted lips fill the bathroom as I rushed in to puke again.
I feel a little better, still light headed but good enough to find a safe spot for Pain of Truth. Axe to Grind podcast was talking recently about how some bands have terrible names but once you hear them the name falls by the wayside. For example, Bad Brains or Earth Crisis.
Terrible names when taken at face value, but man once you hear "Attitude" or "Firestorm," it’s over for you hoes. Pain of Truth is similar in this situation. I never really bothered to listen to them before because of their name, but damn are they raging. Ripping NYHC sound, the sickest 311 tramp stamp, and a wardrobe that would give Fury of Five a run for their money.
Ingrown had some troubles and were unable to make it in time for their set. Really unfortunate because I was mostly looking forward to seeing them. Drain sets up and my buddy Chad (Red Death, Troncale, others probably idk) is now covering bass duties. He is an absolute ham and a wildly good fit for their stage presence. The lights dim and the pool party begins.
Ingrown arrived in time to join my portrait of Drain, and still all mic stands remain intact:
A couple unrelated but hardcore adjacent things of note from this weekend - Ross Farrar has a great Instagram story feed and sometimes posts short words of encouragement, as if he is a passing digital fortune cookie. I took a screenshot of one to read when I’m going through a stint of depression that may be helpful for you as well.
“Clear out the wreckage of your past.”
I’m also in the middle of three books with a highlighter on deck at all times, one of them being Scale by Keith Buckley. A lengthy paragraph hit me square in the face, but I’ll leave you with the end.
“Your very presence is an affront to her mastery, for when she is undone with joy and unified with absolute rapture, your meaninglessness casts an indolent beam of shade. You bring rumors and challenge her efficiency, and so you must leave. You are owed nothing. Go earn love.”
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