On this friday night of late February, fans of hardcore have a special meeting for a sold out show in one of Belgium’s finest venues, the Trix in Antwerp. Tonight’s bill gathers some of the greatest names of the genre, Stick To Your Guns, Stray From The Path, bringing along Counterparts and Wolf Down.
Wolf Down have already covered a lot of mileage together since their beginnings in 2011, always maintaining their efforts. The Germans have just released their sophomore album ‘Incite & Inspire’ at the beginning of February, so this tour was the perfect occasion for them to showcase their new material and jauge the reception to it. Despite not being as popular as the next bands on the bill, everyone seemed receptive to what the band had to offer and the room immediately started hosting its first waves of moshes and bounces, along the raging vocals and heavy riffs, the energy never went down. And it certainly took a step forward when Jesse Barnett from Stick To Your Guns made his appearence during Conspire. Wolf Down are also known for their positive rage and for their engagement, which can be heard in their lyrics, and they didn’t forget to remind everyone about the things they stand for such as animal rights. Something that certainly allowed them to federate a good number of people around their music. Closing up with their major track, Stray From The Path, Wolf Down definitely set the tone for the rest of our evening, which will be restless and sweaty.
Leaving Victory Records behind and moving on with Pure Noise Records, for their most recent record ‘Tragedy Will Find Us’ has given Counterparts the fresh air they needed. Not that Counterparts refrained from speaking their minds and talking freely about their struggles before, but with this record, everything just seems to be in the right place and the band looks like having found a new strength. Somehow, it immediately showed in their performances, both on this tour and on their previous European headliner: with each comeback involvement from crowds increases. As for the band, they only get better with the time.
You can see that those 30 minutes on stage are the highlight of Counterparts‘ day as they seem to give their all, through sweat and yells. It’s always a pleasure to watch them perform, and to witness the set reach a momentum, when the majority of the attendance joins forces to shout the lyrics to The Disconnect. The sequence is fast, and old songs such as Compass and Witness aren’t forgotten. The Canadians eventually wrap up their set with the intense Burn, during which, Kelly Bilan and Jesse Doreen keep playing for a few more seconds after the remainder of the band has left the stage.
It’s no secret that Stray From The Path are one of our favorite hardcore bands here at P/I. We can never get enough of them and we’re thrilled every time we’re able to watch them perform their brutally honest hardcore to equally excited people. Stray From The Path know how to make music that hits you right where you need it and most of all, significant content.
‘Subliminal Criminals’, their latest record, takes up 90% of the setlist on this tour, dealing with subjects that matter to Stray From The Path. The band talks what’s wrong with this world, from politics to society nowadays, including within the music industry. Track D.I.E.P.I.G is introduced by a pissed off speech that vocalist Drew York closes with ‘Fuck Ian Watkins’. Songs such as Outbreak, Eavesdropper, Badge and a Bullet Pt. II brought quite some energy and sing-alongs, whereas Snap increased the intensity inside the room, where people proceeded stage diving and moshing around. Among the older tracks, Black Friday and classic Stray From The Path hit Badge & A Bullet also made a remarkable appearance, reminding us we wouldn’t mind hearing more older tracks next time! First World Problem Child closes off the set brilliantly and leaving us wanting for more. But hey, Stick To Your Guns are up next.
Stick To Your Guns were playing their biggest European headline show to date in Antwerp, and it showed! For the first time of the whole evening, the whole crowd gathered in the big room and it did only take a few seconds for it to explode. It Starts With Me, immediately followed by one of the band’s strongest tracks, Against Them All, kicked off the set in full Stick To Your Guns fashion : wild and mastered.
The Californians are known for their clear stance regarding society nowadays and life on a more general scope. It can be heard in their lyrics, of course, but also in the talks Jesse Barnett makes a point in having in between the songs. Should it be for introducing Bringing You Down:
“Your Government is not giving a fuck about you and this is not my opinion, this is a fact […] we as the people need to stop giving this so much fucking power, because I see the way it cripples people and it breaks my heart”
Stick To Your Guns have the power to make powerful, participative performances and invest the stage in a way that is impressive. We know for fact, that this band is made for big stages, and big crowds, where both the band and the audience can make the show, the latter creating a space where bodies can fly and sing their hearts out. But we’re not teaching you anything here, are we?There are always some huge, solemn singalongs in Stick To Your Guns‘ performances, with anthems such as We Still Believe or closing song Amber, during which frontman Jesse Barnett always asks the people to “sing for all of us”.
If the setlist was diversified and smart, there is one thing we didn’t quite expect and added so much to this already brilliant show : the encore. Not just any encore, but one acoustic performance of the song Left You Behind. It seemed like the intensity of the whole show increased even more at that exact moment and this, was something.
Stick To Your Guns have definitely acquired the level of masters in what they do and this is definitely a band that can’t be overlooked in the hardcore scene. With Stray From The Path, they form the perfect match for a tour line up and adding Counterparts and Wolf Down to it only brought even more quality and diversity.
Words : Yousra F. & Mariam B.
Photos : Gaëlle Pitrel