Comeback Kid

support No Turning Back + Jesus Piece + Sharptooth
author PP date 21/04/19 venue Richter, Copenhagen, DEN

It's my first time at Richter, the brand new music venue in...Gladsaxe? It's a surprisingly large, 400 cap venue supported financially by the Copenhagen municipality with a cheap bar and decent sound even at an attendance level of around 175 people based on a rough estimate. The only problem - and one that ultimately makes me question whether it can survive in the long run - is its location. It took me 50 (!!) minutes door-to-door from Islands Brygge by using a direct bus that leaves from just outside my apartment, which is a guarantee that without a high-end package lineup like tonight's hardcore brawl starring Comeback Kid and three other international bands, there's just no way people will show up. We have difficulty pulling people over to Valby - which is fifteen minutes away, for god's sake!

Sharptooth

First up is Sharptooth, who kick off tonight's festivities early at 7 pm to a mostly empty venue, but that doesn't show on the band's stage performance. Fueled by chaotic energy ranging from swirling guitarists to scissor kicks, circular jumps and a brutally growling, female vocalist, the band immediately demonstrate how a professional, high-energy live show is supposed to look like no matter how many people are watching. Vocalist Lauren Kashan's delivery is mesmerizing compared to her tiny size, giving the vast majority of her male counterparts a proper run for their money through a vicious, razor-sharp growl that's contrasted by the occasional semi-clean vocal for good measure. It's a very politically-charged set, where the band explores topics about female inequality, racism and bigotry, and of course Donald Trump in the process, which are all the right things to say at a hardcore show. So why does it feel so cliché? From the metalcore-driven riffs, sterile breakdowns and the political banter, it just feels a little too rehearsed and automated to come across as genuine as it probably should. It doesn't help that the band's crushing soundscape is damn near impossible to absorb on first listen, so left behind is a memory of a band that delivered an admirable display of energy on stage, but little meat around that bone in terms of musical experience, unfortunately. It's one of those things you can tip-toe around with a massively packed venue where the crowd energy fuels the show, but here, neither applies so the end result is decent, that is all.

Jesus Piece

If Sharptooth was a brutal experience, it's an even more brutal set when it comes to Jesus Piece. They have been one of the most hyped bands within the hardcore scene ever since releasing "Only Self" last year, and it's easy to see why. You'll have to search long and far - perhaps revisiting old Nasty records - to find a beatdown hardcore band as harrowing and monstrously heavy as these guys. The riffs are down-tuned to their extreme, resulting in two-steppable, karate-friendly smashing fueled by guttural growls. Their expression is a vicious, take-no-prisoners kind where all sorts of violent mosh behaviour can be observed in the pit - which results in a smashed bottle because a karate mosher decided to mow down a member in the crowd. Sigh, when will that stupidity end? In the meantime, vocalist Aaron Heard stomps back and forth across the stage with a proper warrior attitude, delivering a few politically charged comments relating to Black Lives Matter before "Oppressor". That said, the energy bomb of the day was definitely Sharptooth as in comparison the solid effort by Jesus Piece somehow manages to look a little static. Worse, their music is arguably even more inaccessible than Sharptooths lest you've heard "Only Self", so the vast majority of the crowd is satisfied just by casually watching and bobbing their heads, save for a couple of aggressive moshers.

No Turning Back

No Turning Back is an entirely different affair. These Dutch hardcore legends might not be melodic per se, but in comparison to the earlier two bands, they at least have some groovy, two-step friendly classic hardcore method to their rhythmic pounding. Reminiscent of Terror, and no doubt an inspiration as well, the No Turning Back set is classic hardcore with no additional bullshit or gimmicks required. And because it is more akin to textbook hardcore with crunchy, down-tuned riffs and the occasional hardcore punk track, it also activates the crowd in a completely different manner than Jesus Piece or Sharptooth managed earlier. It's simply a high-energy onslaught with down-to-earth "thank you's" sent towards the crowd at every opportune moment, and as a result, heads start bopping, the pit activates, and vocalist Martijn's raucous bark earns the crowd's respect. He's also a realist about this being a Sunday show, yet he tries to start shit up every chance he gets, which has always been a part of this band's charm. Solid songs and good, bouncy energy on stage ensure the vast majority of the crowd look like they're finally awake.

Comeback Kid

Comeback Kid has been around a long while, and they've perfected the melodic hardcore live show in the process. Therefore even tonight being a Sunday and the venue being half full, the band look rock solid on stage as they tear through a balanced set of highlights from their discography. Andrew Neufeld even sounds like he's having a sore throat considering he isn't able to deliver his screams in an as ferocious manner as he does usually, yet the set never feels like it's lacking in energy on stage. "Surrender Control", "Do Yourself A Favor", and "G.M. Vincent & I" are early highlights with the latter getting the first (small) sing along, but it is the stadium anthem "Somewhere, Somehow" that draws the biggest reaction from the crowd as usual.

Still, it's clear tonight is a Sunday show, as the intensity levels in the crowd are nowhere near the levels required for those epic Comeback Kid experiences we've tried in the past (see: Groezrock or the Templet show a few years back for good examples) where virtually every song receives pumped fists and sing-alongs. But the professionals they are, they know exactly how to get around such an obstacle: just rush through the songs in one go with virtually no breaks in between. As a result, the band races through a fourteen song set that ends with the "Wake The Dead" sing-alongs as usual, leaving behind a solid display of energy in the form of bounces, circle jumps and the like, but without the trademark intensity nor in-your-face anthemic barking that Neufeld is known for at the bigger shows. In the end, Comeback Kid delivers a solid example of how melodic hardcore at its best sounds like, but we've all seen them play better than this in the past.

8

Setlist:

  • 1. False Idols Fall
  • 2. Surrender Control
  • 3. Do Yourself a Favor
  • 4. G.M. Vincent & I
  • 5. All in a Year
  • 6. Absolute
  • 7. Wasted Arrows
  • 8. Should Know Better
  • 9. Somewhere, Somehow
  • 10. Talk Is Cheap
  • 11. Partners in Crime
  • 12. Die Knowing
  • --Encore--
  • 13. -- unknown --
  • 14. Wake the Dead

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