A Monday night means nothing to a hardcore show; the thought of having to go to work or school early the next morning hardly fazes the kind of crowds the genre brings in. Terminal West, an old factory smelting room turned music venue in Atlanta, was a scene of joyful chaos as people leapt and danced around, pushed and shoved each other, stage dived into the arms of strangers, and screamed their collective asses off as if tomorrow didn’t exist. The motivation behind all this reckless abandon? Only the hardcore tour of the year: New York legends Show Me the Body on a massive 36-date run with support from Jesus Piece, Scowl, Zulu, and TRiPPJONES. This particular Monday played host to the Atlanta stop on the tour.
After TRiPPJONES warmed up the rapidly filling room with his solo rap act, Zulu hit the stage with their unique brand of LA powerviolence and immediately set off some actual (good-natured) violence. “It’s good to be back in Atlanta, I love this place!” vocalist Anaiah Lei told the crowd. “Very happy to be in this city today on a night like this.” The band’s short bursts of brutal powerviolence combined with their boogying dance moves onstage ignited the kind of energy you’d normally expect from the headliner. Bodies were constantly in motion, flying off the stage from all directions, and the front of the audience became a tangled mess of limbs. “Y’all are turning up big time.” Lei remarked after only two songs in. That was putting it mildly.
Up next were modern Bay Area sensation Scowl, whose onstage presence had a similar effect on the crowd in that they started losing their minds before the first few notes had hardly even been played. “Spin this shit in a circle!” vocalist Kat Moss commanded everyone as the set began, and they were off. The one-two punch of ‘Retail Hell’ and ‘Fuck Around’ opened up the floor and started breaking necks. One guy in a flower-covered Scowl ski mask had firmly held onto his spot in the front row while taking a beating from Zulu’s set, and was rewarded more than once with the chance to scream along with Moss into the mic. By the time Scowl had ended, I decided that this was already one of the rowdiest shows I’d ever seen - and there were still two more bands to go.
While Zulu and Scowl embrace a slightly more cheerful side to their headbanging music, there’s no doubting that Jesus Piece go in a different direction, one that’s down and dirty and crushingly heavy. The lights exploded in an array of disorienting colors as the Philadelphia group brought down the house and turned Terminal West into a madhouse. As frost began to form on the parked cars outside, sweat was running down hundreds of bodies in the building; the deep crunch of guitars and the harsh blows of the drums guiding them in a primal frenzy. Frontman Aaron Heard flung his shirt off and continued to assault the crowd with his distinct guttural fury. Countless backflipping fans were launched into the whirlpool of the pit. Wikipedia says that Jesus Piece are known for their “chaotic” live shows, a word that’s a perfect descriptor for what Atlanta experienced that night but at the same time doesn’t go nearly far enough. They devastated that venue.
Show Me the Body finally took to the stage and rallied the bloodied audience by opening with the vocal-focused ‘Out of Place’, setting the proper mood before launching into a raucous set that covered almost the entirety of their latest album, Trouble the Water. The opening acts had turned the place into a straight rager (over and over again), but the trio of frontman Julian Cashwann Pratt, bassist and synth player Harlan Steed, and drummer Jack McDermott brought a wide range of emotion to the event. Longtime fans sang loud and proud while the younger crowd kept up the hardcore antics with more stage dives and pit mayhem set to the sound of punk banjo and plenty of tasty distortion.
As always with the New York activists, the live show comes with a message. That night in Atlanta, the band halted the set to hand the stage over to local protestors who have been fighting to end the planned construction of what would be the largest police training facility in the country. The situation had escalated in the recent weeks following the death of forest defender Tortuguita, who was shot and killed by a Georgia state trooper the previous month. The pain, rage and determination of the city was felt throughout the building and channeled into the remaining few songs of the night, making an already memorable and important show a truly unforgettable one.
Check the gallery of images from the night taken by Nicolás Delgadillo below.
SHOW ME THE BODY
Show Me the Body continue to lead their World War Tour across North America alongside Jesus Piece, Scowl, Zulu, and TRiPPJONES until the end of March. Get your tickets HERE.