May 29 saw Texas crossover outfit Power Trip playing the Hawthorne with support from Philadelphia throwback rockers Sheer Mag, California hardcore/crossover band Fury and D.C. crossover band Red Death.
The show began with the D.C. act Red Death. Having had no prior exposure, I was immediately drawn into their performance as they blended Motorhead thrash and attitude with the ethic and presentation of early era Cro-Mags hardcore and the solo virtuosity of Slayer in a way that wasn’t dis-engaging, a problem I usually encounter when seeing bands with a throwback flavor to them. They worked their way through circle pit anthems “Permanent Exile” and “Formidable Darkness” without missing a step despite having their bassist not present and their vocalist pulling double duty as the bassist/vocalist for the night. They really capitalized on the early trickle of people not really expecting much and even got a mosh going for a second despite the initial low energy of the evening.
The second band to take the stage was California crossover/hardcore act Fury which performed admirably, albeit being less technically proficient and overall less exciting than the band that had opened the show. The crowd was very much engaged during their performance and a few people tried to get in on singalongs during their performances of “Thin Line” and “Dense.” Fury falls closer to the hardcore tag in the crossover genre, relying on primal energy and connection with the crowd and this was very much on display during their performance. I, however, at this point was feeling pretty worn down with all the hypermasculinity inherent to this genre of music and was excited for Sheer Mag to take the stage.
Sheer Mag came out and worked their way through a few of their singles off their last release Need to Feel Your Love, and immediately created a division between the crowd as a few handful of people cleared the all ages area prompting a solid amount of the people who had been hanging out in the bar area during the prior two bands to come forward now that Sheer Mag had launched into their palatable blend of Alanis Morissette meets Thin Lizzy feel good rock n roll. I have never had much of a context for rock n roll as I am a first-generation immigrant so I never grew up listening to classic rock or anything of the ilk; however, it was heartwarming seeing the spaces that one inclusive band can make for the audience.
The last band of the night was Dallas, TX powerhouse Power Trip. At this point the room became saturated with an equal blend of fans who were ready for the slabs of heaviness that Power Trip have become known to deliver. True to recording, they began their set with a triggered sample from their debut breakout Manifest Decimation before launching into “Divine Apprehension” off of their 2011 self-titled 7”. “Divine Apprehension” is a song that caught newer fans off guard, but immediately opened the pit up from old school moshers who were very familiar with their older catalogue. It should also go without saying that the difference on hiring your own sound person for tours is night and day. While the sound for the first three bands of the night was fully maxed out and muddy, Power Trip retained the sonic characteristics from their recordings with clean cutting gritty mids and proper sound mixing for the room. Something that I wish more sound people took into consideration when mixing across genres/venues is that louder is not necessarily better. The band hit high points in their setlist, and played the title track off Manifest Decimation and “Executioners Tax” off their new album Nightmare Logic, before closing out the night with a monstrous performance of fan favorite “Crossbreaker” that left everyone leaving the room fully drained of any energy that was left in any show goer after the long memorial day weekend.