Words and Photos by Kyle Bergfors
THE RETURN OF CHICAGO HARDCORE. FOR THE REAL, BY THE REAL.
Similar to every other city and music community in the nation, Chicago’s music community came to a sudden and jarring halt with the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic in early 2020 scrapping tours, local shows, and more for over a year. While artists were still creating, music being released, and more, the most important component of music, especially the hardcore/punk community, was still missing…. live, in-person shows, at least until now. While shows have been popping up for the last couple months, there needed to be a formal re-introduction for the entire Chicago-land hardcore community, so what better way to plunge back into live music then with two nights of pure high-octane, adrenaline-fueled, in your face hardcore and metal featuring Chicago legends, The Killer and Dead to Fall, with support from local/regional up-and-comers MH Chaos, Sector, and Knaaves, in addition to a downright irresponsible slate of additional support that will put some hair on your chest while giving you +50 strength in the gym featuring Xibalba, Laid 2 Rest, Year of the Knife, Sunset, Blue Ox, and Gridiron.
No one could have asked for a better lineup across two days of back-to-back, real-deal, authentic hardcore and metal. I was only able to attend Saturday, but, personally, I could not have asked for a better show post-lockdown after a year-and-half of no live events consisting of some of my favorite local and out-of-state bands featuring Sector, Knaaves, Laid 2 Rest, MH Chaos, Xibalba, Dead to Fall, and The Killer. Local and regional support Sector delivered a fusion of heavy hitting Chicago meets East Coast blend of hardcore followed by Wisconsin natives Knaaves bringing their own unique blend of metallic hardcore and jarring metalcore with a dark, menacing overtone. Chicago’s MH Chaos brought that natural rawness you just simply can’t replicate making you feel as though you just took a time-machine back to the ‘90s and you’re about to see them open up for Cold as Life, Bulldoze, or even Built Upon Frustration.
As if the night couldn’t get anymore more reckless and unmatched, Connecticut’s very own Laid 2 Rest performed a set so ferocious you would think you were witnessing a prison riot occur before your very own eyes with a sound unmatched that can only be described as what you would layer over montage videos of nature gone wild or bodybuilding motivational videos. After seven years and a handful of cancellations over the years, California heavyweights, Xibalba, delivered their unique, one-of-a-kind, hard-hitting mix of death and doom metal with American hardcore to the windy city changing up the sound and pace of the show in the best way possible.
In similar fashion, Chicago natives Dead to Fall performed what I call, that OG metal-core shit, that was prevalent during the late ‘90s and early to mid 2000s which, while can be replicated today, it just doesn’t seem to hit the same. Consisting of a blend of heavy metal, traditional hardcore, and even European metal influence, Dead to Fall transported fans back to the early 2000s wanting me want to break out the mesh shorts and run to my local Hot Topic to buy something that would piss my parents off.
I had been told by friends about the raw, unfiltered intensity of a The Killer show and have watched old live videos of them countless times, but nothing prepares you for the downright violence and brutality of seeing them live, especially since it was their first show in seven years in addition to an entire parking lot filled with pent-up energy from over a year without concerts. If you want to experience hardcore at its best and what Chicago and Midwest hardcore is REALLY about, there is no better band to see then The Killer. Not only was the raw intensity apparent and evident from the dogpiles, stage dives, and mosh, it needs to be acknowledged the dedication from the fans who continue to support The Killer after so many years of being a band you would think they’re the latest up-and-coming act from the area. Furthermore, it needs to be stated the deep passion and devotion members of Chicago hardcore have for their community and for each other which was on full display through the night as everyone came together after such a long time without shows and not seeing one another creating the feeling of a massive family reunion.
Laid 2 Rest
Dead to Fall
More photos from the show can be found here.