Words by Alessandro Decaro // Images by Erica Lauren
If there are two things the hardcore community knows best, it is coming together for those who need help in trying times and being ready to throw down and celebrate the holidays to the fullest extent.
On Saturday, October 28th, The Midnight Hour, San Fernando Valley's premier alternative record store and D.I.Y. all-ages music venue, welcomed hordes of Los Angeles' most dedicated participants of hardcore for a night of incendiary live music and community outreach. The night’s stacked lineup featured The Skin Trade, Vamachara, Momentum, Twitching Tongues, Shakwell and a surprise headline set from Bay area breakout stars, Drain.
While promoted as a Halloween bash, the show itself served an even greater purpose. All ticket proceeds went directly to prolific music producer, engineer, and Twitching Tongues' guitarist Taylor Young, who was unexpectedly given an eviction notice from his home and recording studio of seventeen-plus years.
For those who don't know, Young has operated The Pit recording studios, where countless legendary albums have been tracked by artists across metal, hardcore, and punk, including Drain, Militarie Gun, Suicide Silence, and God's Hate, among many others.
If you are a fan of modern extreme music, chances are you have been impacted by Young's influence and dedicated work on more than one occasion. In fact, out of the five acts that performed at Saturday's show, Young produced and recorded nearly every one of them, which did not go unnoticed once as each artist paid tribute to Young, who is perhaps the scene's Rick Rubin and The Pit studios, which might as well be his Shangri-La.
As doors opened on Saturday night, costumed fans trickled into The Midnight Hour record store to escape the brisk cold and warm themselves up in the pit for the following five artists.
First up were Los Angeles newcomers, The Skin Trade, who supplied unrelenting 90s-inspired downtuned riffs and panic chords that set the crowd ablaze, a remarkable feat for any opening act. Fresh on the heels of their debut demo release (produced by Young) last month, The Skin Trade had everyone from banana suit spin-kickers and Michael Myers crowd killers going off with full participation — a solid kick-off for the night's festivities.
Next up were Los Angeles mainstays, Vamachara, who initiated one the night's most visceral reactions that saw fans two-stepping in sync with even the most frantic time signatures and double kick patterns. Frontman Gage Goss, sporting a full gorilla costume, commanded the crowd with glee alongside the band in what will surely be remembered as one of their most impressive sets. Following Vamachara was Los Angeles-based straight edgers Momentum.
With shirts off and Jason masks in tow, Momentum played their set so hard that they broke their kick drum halfway through the performance. Technical difficulties aside, Momentum's name couldn't have rang more accurately as the energy and circle pits never seemed to stop no matter what.
Following Momentum was Twitching Tongues, who performed as their Halloween alter ego, "The Twitchfits," to play a blistering set of Misfits covers in honor of the spooky season. Donning classic Misfits makeup and matching custom shirts, Twitching Tongues fully embodied the legendary horror-punk band and showcased the many different eras of their storied career. During the set, the stage belonged to the crowd, and the mic was up for grabs to anyone who wanted it. Whether the band was ripping through classics such as "Hybrid Moments," "Skulls," "Dig Up Her Bones," or "Last Caress," there was never a moment where it didn't feel like a choir singing along to every last word.
Additionally, vocalist Colin Young revealed to the crowd exclusively that Twitching Tongues had professionally recorded their entire Misfits setlist at The Pit studios before the show and would be released digitally on Halloween day, to the delight of every fan in attendance.
Perhaps one of the most touching moments of the night was during the Twitching Tongues set when Colin Young paid tribute to his older brother Taylor, proclaiming, "The Pit lives on in you." At that moment, it was hard not to feel the weight of those words when looking back at all of the timeless and inspiring music that was created in that very studio, which will inevitably go on to be enjoyed by generations of listeners to come.
After a monumental set from Twitching Tongues, rapper Shakewell offered a palette cleanser before headliners Drain would ultimately take the stage to close the night. While sonically different from the other acts on the bill, make no mistake, Shakewell is a day-one member of the hardcore community, having played in several notable Los Angeles acts, including Betrayal. It didn't take long for Shakewell to have the crowd in his hands, set to a soundtrack of booming 808s and rapid-fire cadences.
As the clock struck ten, it was finally time for Drain to take the stage. Drain's set was, in every sense, a victory lap for the band after a triumphant year spent headlining tours across North America and the critical and commercial success of their latest album, Living Proof.
Before launching into their first song, the crowd-favorite track "Feel The Pressure," Drain's inimitably charismatic frontman Sammy Ciaramitaro took the time to say a few words of respect for The Midnight Hour for hosting the show, S.O.S. booking for putting it together and of course, made time to "punish" Taylor Young, the band's longtime producer with a series of heartfelt sentiments. Ciaramitaro reflected on the band's roots, dating back to their inception in 2015 when the relatively unknown band had the opportunity to work with Taylor Young, who would be a pivotal force behind the band's distinct sound.
Drain's performance was nothing short of biblical, not simply because Ciaramitaro was dressed as Moses directing the crowd "to part the sea," but because of how ceremonial and engaged the entire experience was. Everywhere you would look, beach balls flew across the crowd and several walls of death took place as the band ripped through a stacked setlist that spanned their entire discography.
After thirty minutes of pure pandemonium, Drain ended the set with the pummeling track "California Cursed." By the end of the song, the stage was engulfed by smiling fans as Ciaramitaro swiftly disassembled the drum set, piece by piece, allowing fans a chance to get in on the joyous destruction. The band's set at The Midnight Hour was "Living Proof," that when it comes to fun in hardcore, Drain will always be at the epicenter.
With the conclusion of Drain's set, it was time for the night to end. As four-hundred-plus costume-clad fans left the building, there was a palpable sense of happiness and gratitude that everyone could come together to not only celebrate Halloween and enjoy some of the best acts in modern hardcore but also give back to Taylor Young and The Pit recording studio who has given so much to hardcore community over the years.
Saturday night at The Midnight Hour solidified once again that Los Angeles hardcore is thriving, and The Pit recording studio and Taylor Young's legacy will only continue to live on.
Closed Casket Activities presents Twitchfits Vol. 1 for a very limited time only. 138 hours to be exact. Get the music and shop the limited merch collection - HERE