A stacked show celebrating Hatebreed’s 25th anniversary.
Date: Thursday, April 11, 2019
Place: Concord Music Hall (2047 N. Milwaukee Ave.; Chicago, Illinois 60647)
Ticket price: $34.12 after taxes and fees ($25 general admission)
This was a big tour with the lineup it had. Hatebreed is out on tour for their 25th year as a band. The tour’s first leg started in early April. The second leg starts in May with a different lineup. It was a cool tour because you had a lineup of hardcore bands but also death metal legends Obituary, so it was a heavy mix. The crowd was also different in that it was both hardcore and metal fans there together.
They moved the door opening to 6 p.m instead of 6:30 the day before the show. That’s early for a weekday. I got there around 7:15 by way of the train. By that point the concert had already started and a decent amount of people were there. It looked to be at capacity by the time Terror and Obituary went on. It was a super packed show. There must have been like 1,000 people there or something.
Concord Music Hall is a nice venue. I haven’t been here since like 2017. I think the last show I saw here was either Overkill or Testament. It’s a pretty big place. It has a wide open floor with the stage in front. In the back is the sound area right near a bar. Right behind this area way is a seated area. There is also a second floor where people can stand in the balcony and check the bands out.
Fit For An Autopsy from New Jersey was the opening band. They played a real short set. I missed most of it but caught a few songs. I’ve heard of the band but haven’t listened to them before. They were okay. I wasn’t into them that much. I did like “Black Mammoth,” which they finished the set with. Fit For An Autopsy ended around 7:28.
The Cro-Mags were up next and had their intro start at 7:47. This is my third time seeing them. John Joseph was the only member of the old lineup on this show. Mackie Jayson wasn’t playing drums due to a family issue. Darren Morgenthaler, who is the drummer from Maximum Penalty, filled in for him. I was disappointed because Mackie is an incredible drummer and important to the band’s overall sound. Mike Dijan also filled in for bass, who has played guitar with Crown Of Thornz, Breakdown and other New York hardcore bands. The last two times I saw them Craig Setari from Sick of it All was on bass. A.J. Novello from Leeway played guitar.
I don’t know what it was but the band felt a step off. They started the set with “World Peace,” “Show You No Mercy,” and “Malfunction.” World Peace is usually a monster intro song but it felt lacking. Before playing “Crush the Demoniac,” Joseph talked about how he wrote the song in 1985 and that he loved Chicago. He talked about how the Cro-Mags toured with Venom and Motorhead and played the Metro back then. He said the exact same story the last two times I saw them, which made me laugh. I love John Joseph though. The drumming on Crush the Demoniac sounded pretty good live. Before playing “Street Justice,” he said the song was about how back in the day, if somebody had beef they resolved it in the real world and not online. They played two Bad Brains covers, “Right Brigade” and “Attitude.” These were good covers. Joseph said if you didn’t know who the Bad Brains were then you need to do your research. Some guy happened to be wearing a Bad Brains shirt near the front and Joseph pointed it out. For whatever reason the guy took it as a cue to take the shirt off and Joseph joked about the guy doing that. When they played the Bad Brains songs there was a pretty good circle pit going and people seemed to know the songs. Joseph said he saw Hatebreed in the ’90s and knew they were something special back then. They rounded out the set with “Life of My Own,” “Don’t Tread on Me,” and “We Gotta Know.” The guitar solo for “We Gotta Know” sounded kind of weak. They ended with “Hard Times.” They finished the set at 8:22. Cro-Mags played a good set but it felt like some of the intensity and energy was missing. I’m not sure if it all had to do with the different drumming or not but Mackie’s presence was definitely missed. During the set Joseph asked the crowd who is seeing the Cro-Mags for the first time. More than half of the people raised their hands. I think the crowd not being heavily into the set on account of it still being early in the show and also maybe not being totally familiar with the band hurt too. Joseph is the man though. He’s a great front for the band.
At this point though this version of Cro-Mags just isn’t the same. If you ask me what my top five albums are, the band’s first record “Age of Quarrel” (1986) is easily there without hesitation. No question. Harley Flanagan’s bass playing and tone was key to the band’s sound back then too and it’s missing at the current live shows. I don’t understand what’s going on because Flanagan was the founder and original member, so how he wasn’t involved or even able to tour under the band’s name for so long is really strange. There’s just a lot of drama surrounding the band that can overshadow the actual music. This Cro-Mags version hasn’t recorded any new music either, which is also weird, so they’re stuck playing Age of Quarrel songs exclusively, except for “Crush the Demoniac” that appears on “Best Wishes” (from 1989, when Joseph was no longer in the band). Age of Quarrel is a phenomenal album but it’s also 33 years old. I don’t think people going to these shows are even aware of what’s going on, especially some of the younger crowd. You just see the Cro-Mags name on the bill and assume it’s all the same guys from back in the day. When Hatebreed came on Jamey Jasta was giving props to the bands that played before them and said something to the effect of the legendary Cro-Mags. It’s weird to say that because it’s not the classic lineup though. Three of the guys playing in the band that night didn’t even have anthing to do with that music. Going forward there’s going to officially be two versions of the Cro-Mags. As a result of a settlement reached this week, Harley Flanagan will have the original Cro-Mags name while the current touring Mags will play under “Cro-Mags JM,” which stands for John and Mackie. Cro-Mags JM will also be writing music for a new album according to Joseph. Musically both sides are better together than separated, and it would be cool for them to reunite for a proper tour and album. If Axl Rose can get back with the classic Guns N’ Roses lineup then anything is possible.
Terror from California went on after Cro-Mags. They came on at 8:40. What a killer set. They were intense. I saw them last October in Chicago at Subterranean and they absolutely destroyed. Scott Vogel was again great on vocals. At first the vocals seemed off due to some technical issue but they got better. There was a barricade in front of the stage so nobody could really stage dive and mosh around like they should at a hardcore show. Vogel said that he hated the barricade but life is good, which was a great line. He told the crowd to make the security guard work. Terror is really heavy live. A few people did end up stage diving. One guy did a sick dive right into some people in front of me and looked like he wiped somebody out. Vogel kept telling the crowd to stomp on some heads, which was funny. After they played “Spit My Rage” from “One With the Underdogs” (2004), Vogel told the crowd that right now it was time for everybody to move and to give a little push to the person next to you. They did a few songs from their recent album “Total Retaliation” that came out last September like “This World Never Wanted Me” and “Mental Demolition.” These sounded killer. Towards the end they played “Keep Your Mouth Shut” which was fantastic. People were going crazy. They ended the set with “Keepers of the Faith” (2010). There was a lot of singing along during the set. They had a great circle pit going the entire time. The breakdowns were great too.
Terror was just awesome. They ended at 9:15. The songs sound heavy live and maybe even better than the actual albums. Vogel is a cool dude and a great frontman that really gets the crowd involved. During the set he said, “It’s great to be alive.” I liked the things he would say like that between songs. To me Terror kind of blew Cro-Mags away in terms of the energy and overall vibe. The crowd was more into the Terror set because it seemed like people knew them better. I thought someone would dive off the second floor into the pit or climb up the support wall in the crowd and dive off that but it didn’t happen. When Terror was done, some guy came out of the pit who was wearing a white dress shirt and a tie. He must have come straight from the cubicle to the show. After Terror ended the set Eazy-E’s “Real Muthaphuckkin G’s” played over the building and a lot of people started singing along to it. That was pretty funny considering what type of show they were at.
A lot of metalheads moved up to the front and closer to the stage before Obituary came on. You could clearly tell that a lot of people there were metalheads and came primarily to see Obituary because they had that look with the long hair, metal t-shirts and the band patches all over. A show like this is cool because you got a mix of two different worlds and possibly exposed to music you might not have considered before from both a metalhead and hardcore fan’s perspective. Obituary is phenomenal. They are one of the key death metal bands in the genre’s history who started out in Florida back in the ’80s. This was my second time seeing them. They started at 9:37. Before they got on stage “Snortin’ Whiskey” by the Pat Travers Band played over the speakers. What a great intro. They opened with “Redneck Stomp” from their 2005 “Frozen in Time” album, which is an instrumental song that has such a killer riff banging throughout it. John Tardy still sounds killer live with the death metal vocals. The whole band was just super heavy. Donald Tardy is a terrific drummer, especially live.
Some of the songs Obituary played are classic death metal but when they do them live they sound new and still fresh. The songs they played from their first two albums “Slowly We Rot” (1989) and “Cause of Death” (1990) still sounded awesome and like they came out yesterday. There was obviously a lot more headbanging in the crowd going on during the Obituary set given the difference in musical style compared to the other bands that night. The circle pit was also a bit different compared to Terror, who has a different breakdown style in their songs. The riffing and drumming from Obituary was really fast. Obituary ended the set with “Slowly We Rot,” which had a big time pit going. There was even some push back to the corner of the stage where I was standing. They ended at 10:20. Obituary is a pretty amazing live band that still brings the same heaviness.
Hatebreed is a band I have unintentionally avoided. For whatever reason I never got into them. It’s not that they suck or anything. It just never happened. I think one reason is that when I was younger I kind of had them pinned as a “poser” band and not legitimately hardcore or whatever other dumb label. After seeing them live it turns out I missed out on some great music. Ironically I listened more to their “For the Lions” 2009 cover album than I have their own material. Of course “This Is Now” is an awesome song that I always liked. Jamey Jasta is a cool dude too.
The hardcore people moved up to the front when Hatebreed came on. The Ultimate Warrior’s wrestling theme song was the band’s intro, which briefly started playing at 10:49. By the first song everyone in the crowd was going nuts. Hatebreed opened up with “Empty Promises” from their 1997 album “Satisfaction Is The Death Of Desire.” The whole place was singing along, moving around and had their fists up, even all the way in the back section. Everyone there was super into the band and all the songs. It was definitely a really cool vibe. They also played “Puritan” from the same album. Jasta asked the crowd who was alive in 1997, which is a definite sign that I’m getting old. The two ’90s songs sounded really good. Early on they did “Looking Down the Barrel of Today” from their 2016 album “The Concrete Confessional.” The crowd was going crazy during that song. There was a huge circle pit going. Jasta asked the crowd who had to work tomorrow and that we were all hanging out late with Hatebreed. I had almost forgotten I still had to go to work the next day. Hatebreed has taken influences across different genres, which was obvious from the cover album they did. The guys in the band that night represented a mix of this, with bassist Chris Beattie wearing a Kreator shirt and then guitarist Frank Novinec had a T.S.O.L. hat. That was cool. It felt like at the show Hatebreed had that crossover appeal with the metalheads and hardcore people both into what they were playing.
Jasta kept asking people to step out of “mosh retirement,” which was funny. When they played “In Ashes They Shall Reap” from their 2009 self-titled record, everyone was singing along with them. Jasta said that he came to Chicago in 1993 or 94. He saw Napalm Death and Obituary here and knew then that he wanted to be in a band and play music. With “Mind Over All” from their 2006 “Supremacy” album a real fast circle pit got going. Jasta announced they were going to do a new album and headline tour next year. “Destroy Everything” that’s also from Supremacy was a cool song that the crowd was really into as well. Before their second to last song “A Call for Blood,” (from the 2002 album “Perseverance”) Jasta again asked everyone to come out of mosh retirement before the night ended. They got another huge mosh going.
Even with Hatebreed being the fifth band into a long show, the crowd wasn’t tired. While I was going to the show to see Cro-Mags, Terror and Obituary, most of the crowd was definitely there to see Hatebreed as well. You could tell the difference in the energy of the room. They even had the best pits going of the night. The last song Hatebreed played was “I Will Be Heard.” Everyone in the place was singing to it. Hatebreed ended their set at 11:47. Hatebreed won me over. They were really good live, especially considering that I didn’t know many of the songs. They played about an hour and didn’t let up. This was a killer show. It was raining when the show ended, which sucked getting drenched on the way home. Even then it was a fantastic night of music.