SPEED 2023 US Tour Diary, by Guitarist Josh Clayton (EXCLUSIVE)

Photo: Jack Rudder

Australian hardcore outfit SPEED recently wrapped up a run of US shows featuring key appearances at both This Is Hardcore and Sound and Fury festivals.

While taking in the sights and sounds, guitarist Josh Clayton wrote about it to document the experience. No Echo is honored to run his SPEED tour diary for our readers today.

Day 1 

After a flight cancellation left us stranded at a 5 star resort with a private beach in Honolulu (devastating), we finished our 2-day commute to the US and landed in Long Beach the night before day 1 of Sound and Fury.

Although we were all pretty wrecked, we couldn’t pass up the opportunity to go catch our mates in Gridiron and Never Ending Game at the pre-show in Boyle Heights. Shit got crazy, security were trying to shut the show down during Gridiron but cooler heads prevailed.

NEG played a fucking insane set with all the hits plus a bunch of new ones off the recently released Outcry LP. Lots of Australian representation in the pit too, Pia and Rhys were doing damage. Overall awesome gig, had In N Out with some of the Gridiron fellas before calling it a night. 

Baby Dennis @ In N Out. 

Day 2 

We rocked up to S&F nice and early to make sure we could catch Big Boy from SIn Jose, one of SPEED’s collective favorite bands. We arrived right in time to witness the infamous S&F barrier incident (Barrier-gate? Gate-gate?) that you might have seen online. Anyway that shit got ripped down immediately obviously and BB had one of the sets of the weekend.

Other notable moments were the return of Twitching Tongues, High Vis, and an epic Cold World set to end the night. Oh fuck and who could forget the secret Ceremony set!? I don’t think I’ve ever heard a louder crowd of people. Afterwards we linked up with NEG at a karaoke bar and celebrated a great day, I might have celebrated a little too hard and paid for it the following morning.. 

I ate 8 tacos this night

Day 3 

Again we pulled up early to the second day of Sound and Fury to get our gear stashed away and our merch all set up. Spent the first half of the day helping out with the merch which was an awesome opportunity to meet a bunch of hardcore kids from all over the place.

It was hard to really get around and soak in the full atmosphere of the fest but the team that run it did an amazing job once again. The final couple of bands of the day were all absolute heaters, if I’m remembering correctly I think it went God’s Hate > Soul Search > No Pressure > SPEED > TUI.  

I felt pretty comfortable heading into our set knowing that we were very prepared for the moment, but that all went out the window when I went to pull my guitar out of its case 2 mins before walking on stage and realising the case had been locked by airport security.

Thankfully Sam Trapkin from TUI was more than happy to lend me his guitar for the set, which in hindsight was a really special and sentimental moment considering how much TUI means to me and all the guys in SPEED. Our set was a life changing experience once again, and I still haven’t completely processed it and am not sure if I ever will.  

After we finished, TUI closed out the night with quite honestly the most insane hardcore set I have ever witnessed in my life. During the set I sat myself up on some equipment behind the drum kit which gave me this perfect vantage point to soak in the stage and the entire crowd, and I had this moment of reflection where it hit me just how much hardcore has changed in the time that I’ve been involved with it.

I was so proud to be there, witnessing this big triumphant moment for hardcore while my favourite band played. It sounds cheesy to say it but I am so grateful to have devoted my life to being a part of this community and that experience was extremely special to me. 

SPEED @ Sound and Fury 2023. (Photo: Jack Rudder)

Day 4 

The day after Sound and Fury we legged it up the the Bay Area, big shout out to our man Mike Durt from Sunami for taking us up in his van (and also driving us around all weekend in LA). Was fucking awesome to hang with him and the rest of the Sunami guys and all the Bay Area crew who really feel exactly like our own friendship group back home.

The show was absolutely stacked, Threshold from Melbourne opened it up and there was a ton of Australian hardcore kids in the mix. Following it up was Extinguish, a late addition to the show but they absolutely blew me away. Field of Flames and Big Boy were next, both incredible bands.

The Bay Area is really one of the strongest hardcore scenes in the world. I loved playing our set after having such a wild one in San Jose last year. Truly an insane experience. We finished the night up at a hot dog joint run by one of the rudest people we have ever encountered (think soup nazi from Seinfeld styles) but the food completely justified it IMO. 

Big Boy @ Cornerstone, Berkeley, CA. (Photo: Jack Rudder)

Day 5 

Next morning, we had to jet to the airport to fly out to Austin, Texas. Because of the time difference, we landed in the early evening and were met by intense 35 degree heat. We went straight to a classic Texas BBQ spot and all ate a fuck ton of food which sent us into a coma.  

Me and Bchan fucked up at Terry Blacks BBQ. 

Day 6 

I slept until about 2pm the next day, I was absolutely rinsed from the previous couple of days. Me and Bchan hit a taco joint down the road from our hotel while the rest of the guys went to the gym and eventually met up with us afterwards to eat. Then it was time for the show! We played in a really cool bar called The Ballroom.

The backstage room was full of old arcade machines and analogue TVs with VCRs. The Austin hardcore scene is very much a chain punk leather jacket kind of scene, which was fucking sick to see in full force for the local Texas bands Mugger, UNIT, and Mexican Coke.

Life’s Question from Philly played next, they’re one of those bands that makes you want to be better at your instrument. Truly unique hardcore written and performed by awesome musicians with a ton of swag.

I was honestly a little bit exhausted by the time we played but from the second we started the atmosphere in the room woke me up and it ended up being one of my favourite shows of the tour.

So much respect for the Austin hardcore community, thank you for having us! Raising Cane's for dinner, Zac got the promotional Post Malone drink cup. 

Mexican Coke @ The Ballroom, Austin, TX. (Photo: Jack Rudder)

Day 7 

Drove to Denton, Texas the next day and hit Buc-ee's, a fucking gigantic petrol station with everything you could ever want inside it. It was like being at the Easter show or something. Ate two BBQ sandwiches and a bunch of beef jerky and it was all fire. Fell asleep after that and woke up in Dallas where we stopped for a quick coffee and then kept on going up to Denton.

There was nothing around the venue, but the place was cool as fuck. Outdoor venue with a big band shell style stage. Mexican Coke played again—I should say that this band are legitimately psychotic, just a bunch of 20-year-old freaks that own too many guns. They were fucking awesome to hang with.

Barricade and local Denton legends Ozone also played and the pit got extremely active. Life's Question were up again next and blew my mind again, the comedian Ian Fidance from New York was there diving his ass off. We had another ridiculous set, people were climbing up the speaker towers and doing the scariest dives on to the concrete. Check this pic of Chance, aka FUBU MAN for reference: 

SPEED @ Rubber Gloves, Denton, TX. (Photo: Kristin Lockhart)

Day 8 

We took an early flight out of Dallas-Fort Worth to our next destination: Phoenix Arizona. Landing here felt like unlocking a new map in GTA, I have not encountered desert terrain in the US yet so it was eye opening to see. Also, if we had thought that Texas was hot, Phoenix was about 42 degrees.

The venue was this massive theatre called The Nile, we were joined by some hectic AZ bands Get a Grip and Skinticket and we also had Day By Day from Florida and Downpresser from California fly out for the show.

The pit was fucking brutal at this show, people in Arizona are fucking hard haha. Had a blast playing our set and then hit a 24-hour Mexican spot with Day By Day afterwards and waited about 90 mins for our food. After saying our goodbyes we crashed for about 4 hours before getting up for another flight. 

Day By Day and SPEED in Phoenix, AZ. 

Day 9 

We had a long flight to New Jersey and again with changing time zones we didn’t arrive until the afternoon. Our buddy Sean from Baltimore came and picked us up with his van along with our boss Ricky Singh of Flatspot Records and Backtrack fame.

Although we had a short drive to Philly ahead of us and the second half of This Is Hardcore day 1 to get to, we insisted on stopping at the first WaWa gas station we saw for hoagies. Once in Philly, the rest of the guys went in to TIHC to check out the last couple of bands for the night while Aaron and I took it easy and got some pizza at a spot nearby.

Aaron at Paulie Gee’s Soul City Slice Shop, Philadelphia, PA.

Day 10 

Our final show for the run was at This Is Hardcore day 2 in Philly. We headed in fairly early to set our merch up and then a bunch of us ducked out to Reading Terminal Market, a famous food market in Philly. We fucked up a couple of pastrami sandwiches from a Jewish deli and spent the next couple of hours sitting down in the heat back at the fest.

Caught some incredible sets from Combust, End It, and Bitter End before it was our turn. This was another very sentimental experience, to be playing in this room that we’ve seen countless times in videos on YouTube. Super grateful to the TIHC team for having us as part of the fest this year, it was a huge privilege.

I had a couple of drinks to celebrate the end of the tour and at the end of the night we jumped on the road to New York, via WaWa once again for some more sandwiches. 

SPEED @ This Is Hardcore 2023. (Photo: Jack Rudder)

Day 11 

Tour was now officially over, but we had a day to kick it in New York so we wanted to make the most of it. The city’s unofficial mayor, New York Nico, met up with us and Ricky at La Bonbonniere, an old-school diner in Greenwich Village before having a tour some of Nico’s favourite local businesses including Casa Magazines, Village Revival Records, and Porto Rico Coffee Roasters.

Every time we hang with Nico it feels like he lifts up a curtain and takes us into a version of New York that you only ever get to see in old '90s sitcoms.  

(L-R):  Jamal (owner of Village Revival Records), Bchan, Ricky, Nico. (Photo: Jack Rudder)

After that, we were invited to a private weed club in Chinatown. Personally, I don’t smoke weed but it was interesting to be there and again meet some authentic NYC characters. Then we drove over to Brooklyn, popped into a bar for happy hour before heading over to Peter Luger’s Steakhouse for dinner.

Peter Luger’s is a New York institution, they’ve been there in Williamsburg since 1887 and it provided the perfect setting for us to celebrate a successful trip with our team.

After dinner we went to a bar in Brooklyn called Common Mollies and linked up with a bunch of friends we made on our last trip to NY and celebrated our last night in America. 

Steak for 11 at Peter Luger’s. 

Day 12 

Nursing an absolutely brutal hangover, we left our hotel the next morning and hit another classic NY style diner for some food before our flight. We said our goodbyes to Sean and started our journey home from JFK airport, exhausted but feeling extremely humbled to have had another incredible experience across the US playing hardcore together. 

SPEED @ Tina’s Place, Brooklyn, NY. (Photo: Sean Reilly)


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