Vans and FYF are taking over the Middle East club in Cambridge, Mass. for a three-night long, free event series featuring artists, bands, athletes and free merch. The free show “sold out” within an hour of going live. The House of Vans House Party kicked off last night featuring performances by Dark Blue, Metz and Title Fight, free custom screen printed Vans tees, fresh murals by Brooklyn artist Dennis McNett and an outdoor screening of Vans “20 Years Off the Wall on the Snow.”
All ages Night One saw a young crowd streaming into the low-ceilinged venue, adorned with disco balls and Christmas lights. Youngsters sporting beanies, flannels and their favorite pair of Vans took refuge from the blizzard outside to warm up with some moshing and crowd surfing. The smell of Coors Light and dirty snow wafted through the bustling crowd as disco balls spun and “OPP” played in the background, anticipating the bands.
First to take the stage was Philadelphia’s Dark Blue. Acidic frontman John Sharkey III and his two compadres opened the energetic set with metallic guitar riffs and raspy screaming lyrics. Next up was their 7” single “Subterranean Man,” which label Kartorga Works described as “reminiscent of late ’80s English oi!/pop.” The band’s strongest flows were in the instrumental interludes of catchy beats featuring fiery guitar solos more than the raspy monotone lyrical bridges of the darker songs. Telling the crowd to “wake the fuck up,” Sharkey III introduced the next song “about the glory of marriage between a skinhead and a civil servant.” With a clash, the band picked up the tempo jumping around the stage and finished the set with a head banger build up akin to Killers’ “I got soul but I’m not a soldier.”
In a cobalt blue haze, Toronto’s Metz took the stage as the crowd pushed densely forward in anticipation of the mosh. The post-hardcore band did not disappoint, filling the cavernous underground venue with high-energy screams among with eardrum shattering clashes on the drums to the mosh pitter’s sweaty delight. The short, intense burst of the opener screeched into next song, “Negative Space,” a longer and slower (but no less chaotic) ruckus of a song from their Into Dark album. Next came “Wasted,” a song that literally sounded like they were wasted off their asses when they wrote, recorded and now performed in an enjoyable shitshow of a crowd pleaser. Feeding off the crowd, the playful frontman wailed, “I can’t take it!” and “Aw fuck it!” before a guitar solo and percussive clashes with an agonizing kneeling wail on the guitar before the swell of the drum solo ending. With a screaming electric guitar peal, “Sad Pricks” reinvigorated the mosh pit. Eardrums were blown out with the closer, “Wet Blanket.”
The final performance of the night by Pennsylvania’s punk rockers Title Fight descended into chaos as crowd surfers flew onstage to the youthful rebel anthems. Opening with “Leaf,” the band set angsty lyrics to harsh wails and head banging drums. “Numb, But I Still Feel It” picked up the pace with speedy drums before slowing it down for the more melodic, sonic sounding teen lovers ballad, “Head in the Ceiling Fan.” Vans shoes flew through the air on the feet of the endless stream of crowd surfers being wrestled off stage during “27”‘s aggressive vocals and body swaying guitar melody. Finishing out the night strong, Title Fight played a garage band house party show for the crowd surfing kids who loved every blood- and sweat-dripping moment.
The “Snochi Festival” will bring the Olympic spirit to Boston with an on-site pop up snowboard demo in the street in front of the Middle East for the second night, featuring Vans team rider Nick Poohachoff, among other New England boarders in the three hour snow “park” festivities. Night Two will feature performances by Odd Future’s Earl Sweatshirt, XXYYXX and Cities Aviv. Night Three will see Anamanaguchi, Baths and some unannounced special guests. Like when your parents went out of town for one epic weekend each year, Vans House Parties inevitably go off. With the success of this event, look out for more to come from House of Vans.