It was an incredibly cold night for October, but outside the Electric Factory in Philadelphia, thousands clad in hoodies lined up around the block for Underoath, The Bled, and Veda. Not even a SEPTA strike, which rendered the whole city without public transportation, could keep a sold-out crowd for some blistering hardcore on a Friday night. When the doors finally opened to a freezing yet energized crowd, the area near the front of the stage quickly filled. After slightly less than 30 minutes, the lights came up and a pumped-up crowd knew it was time.The crowd didnâ€™t stay pumped-up for long. When Veda hit the stage first, there was not a hardcore song in sight. What could only be categorized under that large gatefold banner of â€œindie rockâ€ was what emitted from Veda. Utilizing synth and a piano, Veda steered entirely away from what was expected that night. Make no mistake, the band did try to play as loud and as raucous as they could (noticeable by the drums being extremely loud at the onset, drowning everything else out), but the material itself prevented anything from sounding remotely hardcore. While singer Kristen May, howling and cooing with the best of them, delivered over danceable beats and harmonizing melodies out in full force, the crowd remained at a standstill. Even when power chords emerged and May started vocally imitating Joplin, polite clapping was the only noticeable sign the crowd was alive. With a different crowd, the bandâ€™s material and presence would surely carry them. However, this was not their night.
Next up was The Bled. Bursting out of the gate with an energy unbridled, they were the proto-typical hardcore band. By sounding exactly like every other hardcore band youâ€™ve ever heard, The Bled accomplished their job as the opener: getting the crowd excited. Giving the crowd exactly what they wanted, the masses replied in kind. Bodies went up, hundreds were moved in one swift motion, and many an elbow was thrown. While being as damn near generic as any hardcore band could be, The Bled offered a true introduction to the night, doing exactly what they were supposed to.
With a prerecorded intro of what sounded like rioting or angry men yelling, Underoath burst onto the stage, making the energy and response of The Bled look dismal in comparison. Screams, shouts and guitars dominated (with everything distorted to the pointed of unintelligibility), sounding like a bat out of hell. Though the band themselves appeared to be on, the mix degenerated, pushing the guitars and vocals all the way up, and making the keyboards and drums barely present at all. While on the subject of the keyboard player, Iâ€™d be remiss if I didnâ€™t mention the pure uselessness of one Christopher Dudley, who stumbled around like a madman, shaking his large frame like his life depended on it. While trying to get the crowd involved, he showed that almost anyone could do his job. However, the entire crowd remained enthralled with every motion and gesture, despite hearing or seeing nothing new. Perhaps the never ending strobe from hell blinded them from seeing what they were witnessing or the crowd was in the middle of a group epileptic seizure. Nevertheless, even after hearing the cacophony that could easily be made by grade-schoolers, the crowd even joined along to â€œthrowing it up to Jesus.â€ While religion is anyoneâ€™s choice and frankly not a concern usually with music, here it felt tacked on merely for a cheap pop from the crowd. Iâ€™d also go out on a limb to say that Jesus would rather not have his name sullied with such infantile trash.
While Underoath and The Bled played the same old song and dance, only Veda really attempted to be different. However the crowd, merely wanting the same old song and dance, cheered the losers and begrudgingly clapped for the winners.