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  Jamey Jasta of Hatebreed
Jamey Jasta of Hatebreed at CBGB, NYC, 1/22/02
Photo by Paul E. Dogg © 2002 NY Rock

Hatebreed: The Little Hardcore Band That Could, by Jeanne Fury

Once upon a time, there was a little hardcore band from Connecticut called Hatebreed. The little band played all the shitty clubs in every Nowhere Town and gained a loyal following. If you wanted to see Hatebreed, word-of-mouth and hand-scrawled flyers (and later, the Internet) were the only means of pinning them down. But then, something magical happened. The record companies took an interest in the little band. Universal Records signed Hatebreed to its label. Now, Hatebreed is a national act, with a big, shiny bus, headlining club tours, and sharing the stage with Slayer, the Deftones, and Kid Rock, among others. But the band's fans aren't angry that their little band is on a major label and landing stories in CMJ Monthly. The fans still like to think of Hatebreed as a little hardcore band from Connecticut.

Just because the band signed with Universal, don't expect Hatebreed to do for hardcore what Green Day did for punk. To rookie ears, hardcore music isn't half as catchy as punk – vocals are roared and noise barrels off the stage at an inhumane speed. But those who love hardcore, live hardcore. The rest of the world could learn a thing or two about life if they tuned in to songs about equality, unity, and truth. While it's very doubtful hardcore took its cues from Aretha Franklin, "r-e-s-p-e-c-t" is what it's all about. Respect yourself, respect others, and respect the music.

On January 22, 2002, CBGB played host to the last show of Hatebreed's headlining tour, and the club was full of eager hardcore kids, ready to kick, thrash, and otherwise punish their bodies (and eardrums). This is the consummate journo experience – taking notes on the wobbly, sticky tables of CBGB's, and trying to avoid getting your ass beaten.

Sal Lococo of Sworn Enemy
Sal Lococo of Sworn Enemy at CBGB, NYC, 1/22/02
Photo by Paul E. Dogg © 2002 NY Rock

After Dead Wrong and What Feeds the Fire played their sets, Sworn Enemy and American Nightmare (respectively) opened for Hatebreed.

Like many hardcore singers, Sal Lococo of Sworn Enemy shared the mic with aspiring singers in the crowd. The fans made it very obvious that Sal's lyrics belong to them as much as they belong to Sworn Enemy, and the big guy will be the first one to agree. One ballsy girl pushed her way ahead of the guys, grabbed the mic, and took her turn shouting lyrics (hardcore is an equal opportunity destroyer). Sporting a FDNY baseball hat, Sal dedicated a song to the fallen firefighters and police officers of September 11. Shout outs also went to the other bands sharing the night's bill. E-Town Concrete, Everybody Gets Hurt, G.F.Y. and Hatebreed ("for always lookin' out for us") also got props. As the pit grew in intensity, there was a frantic scramble to get a piece of the mic and scream one's stupid face off. Bodies piled on top of each other just like the band's thickly stacked riffs and thunderous breakdowns. Bassist Mike Couls spin-kicked his way across stage, as the band played "I.D.S." and closed with a breakdown of "Domination" by Pantera.

  Wes Eisold of American Nightmare
Wes Eisold of American Nightmare at CBGB, NYC
1/22/02, Photo by Paul E. Dogg © 2002 NY Rock

The first thing that came to mind when American Nightmare got on stage was that lead singer Wes Eisold looked a hell of a lot like Ashton Kutcher from "That '70s Show." He could easily be an honorary member of the Strokes, with his floppy haircut and well-worn clothes. Then the music started. All those comparisons went down the shitter. Bellvue Hospital quickly came to mind. Methinks Wes and the rest of American Nightmare suffer from an undiagnosed case of paranoid schizophrenia and a dash of epilepsy. Bodies flipped and twitched like a fish out of water (and on speed). The music could only be described as merciless, cathartic, and chaotic. Though the mic wasn't working for the first two songs, no one in the crowd really cared. People literally somersaulted over the heads of the audience. When the set was finished, the band literally stumbled offstage to make way for Hatebreed.

Hatebreed opened with "Empty Promises" from their 1997 album Satisfaction Is the End of Desire. Lead singer Jamey Jasta spent almost as much time thanking the crowd and plugging Hatebreed's upcoming record Persevere (to be released March 26) as he did hurling out monstrous vocals. It's amazing just how well the fans have each lyric memorized. What sounds like incoherent screaming is, in actuality, pure poetry to the kids in the pit. Jasta shared the mic, kids flailed their limbs throughout the pit, and cameras flashed from both sides of the stage. Lou Richards (guitar), Sean Martin (guitar), Chris Beattie (bass), and Matt Byrne (from All Out War sitting in on drums) battered down songs including "Puritan," "Under the Knife," "Conceived Through an Act of Violence," and a new one, "I Will Be Heard." Towards the end of the set, Jasta profusely thanked the loyal fans who have supported Hatebreed throughout the years, and two bands that gave them their start: Agnostic Front and Sheer Terror.

While Hatebreed continue their steady rise to the top, their respect for hardcore won't get lost in the shadows. Here's hoping more bands get the same opportunity as this little hardcore band from Connecticut.

February 2002

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