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Nathan’s Underground Music Review: Brick By Brick Festival II

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On February 22, 2014, some of the best hardcore bands from the East Coast gathered in Altoona, PA at Pellegrine’s Lounge for Brick by Brick Festival II.

Seventeen bands took the stage to show case the PAHC scene (Pennsylvania Hardcore scene). Except for a few minor incidents, Brick by Brick was a success.

The first band of the festival was Altoona’s own City of Snakes.  Brick by Brick was City of Snakes first show.  Despite their rather short set, they performed like veterans.  This band was heavier than most of the bands there.  They played songs from their demo including “Payback” and “Greed’.

Next was Bad Terms from Huntington, West Virginia.  Bad Terms also played a relatively short set.  Their style was a fast paced melodic punk sound.  The crowd reacted gave them a nice PA welcome.

After Bad Terms came Florida based crew Incited.  This quartet came out swinging.  Their sound morphed into a heavier faster sound live than how they sound in the studio.  They sang most of the songs from their EP “Bury Dead Weight.”  Like the previous bands, their set was short but they proved their worth in that short time.

Next was Scranton based band Not Til’ Death.  By this point, the crowd had built to a decent amount of people.  They reacted well as Not Til’ Death played their brand of hardcore music.  The music could be compared to Terror.  With plenty of breakdowns and hard hitting vocals, Not Til’ Death showed Altoona who they were.

Following them was Futile Justice from Merrimack, New Hampshire.  This band really brought the house down.  Their vocalist was uncontrollable as he performed.  The rest of the band was just as hardcore.  The whole performance was bursting with energy.  As they trashed the stage, the crowd swelled in the mosh pit.

The Storm from Syracuse, New York was the next band to take the stage.   Their lead singer commanded the audience with power.  Under his command, the crowd went berserk.  He shoved people at the front that did not move and instructed the ones who were moving to turn the intensity level up.  Overall, the music was great and the stage presence was spectacular.

Next was Detroit, Michigan act Ante Up.  Since Ante Up has performed at Pellegrine’s in the past, they already have a small following in the area.  Unfortunately, because the band had been on tour for a while, the lead singer’s voice was not in good shape.  However, he fought through it gave it 110%.  The rest of the band pulled double time to make up for their singer’s minor injury and their set turned out to be great.

Next was another Altoona native band called Terrible Minds.  This was the last show until they were finished with their first full length album.  Since this was the last show in a while, the people showed up in hoards.  They sang fan favorites like “Head Hunter” and “Conceived”.  Their set was hard hitting and the crowd reacted well.

The next band to play was a band from the Williamsport/Lockhaven area called Menace.  Like Terrible Minds, this was Menace’s second to last show before they recorded their first full length album.  They started with their hit song “Infamous”. As they performed, the crowd got wilder and wilder as each strum was strummed.  During their set, they played a new song and also played many of their other older songs.  Even though they played a good amount of songs, their set felt short, but overall a  great set.

Next was another member of the Pennsylvania hardcore scene called AgitatorTheir set was powerful in every essence.  Their music was a quick punk sound that had heavier roots to it.  They also exclaimed that they were all straight edge (no drugs and alcohol), which was a nice change.  Their vocalist looked like a psychopath as he ran ramped on the stage and in the pit.  The rest of the band exploded with energy, making their set very fun to watch.

Afterwards, Steel Nation from Pennsylvania took the stage.  Unlike the rest of the bands there, the two vocalists played guitar and bass.  Their sound could be compared to the likes of Slayer.  Only, Steel Nation was a little bit lighter.  Many people enjoyed their set going wild moshing.

Next was Long Island, New York natives King Nine.  They played most of the songs from their full length album “Scared to Death”.  The lead singer paced back and forth on the stage with a menacing presence.  Their set was brutal as people grabbed the microphone and screamed along.  The stage was a mess of cables and bodies going nuts.  Their set was powerful and loud.

Next was the return of Philadelphia’s own BarricadeThis was the first time the band had performed in years.  The people responded tremendously as they sang along to each song.  Barricade did not show any signs of rust as hey played each song to perfection.  A few times people piled up on the lead singer causing mass chaos.  This set was perfection.

Strength For A Reason from Nanticoke, PA was the next band up.  Strength For A Reason is one of the cornerstone bands in the Pennsylvania hardcore scene.  Their set was intense as they played songs from their latest album to their older music from their start.  They played with a certain prowess that the rest of the bands did not have.  Like Barricade people piled up on the lead singer.  This was one of the sets of the night in my opinion.

After Strength For A Reason, came Rude Awakening.  They didn’t play a long set.  However, they still were excellent.  The whole band played with so much energy.  The crowd was about to burst with excitement for the headliners for the headliners so they were as wild as ever.  Their songs were a heavy hardcore sound that was sharp.  Even though their set was short, the played an excellent set.

Next came the two headliners.  Empire of Rats from Columbus, Ohio was first up.  They had a heavy melodic sound that reminded me of Slayer.  They had tons of breakdowns (extremely heavy part of song with no vocals) and a unique voice to match.  They performed most of their hit songs and the crowd reacted well.  People often grabbed the microphone and sang parts of the song.  Their set was violent and hardcore as ever.

Finally, Lifeless from New Jersey was up.  The band tore down Pellegrines.  Every song was spectacular in every way.  From the vocals, to the band’s playing, to the performance, Lifeless killed.  The crowd gave it everything they had and destroyed everything in their path.  With each passing song, everybody new Brick by Brick was almost over, but everyone still went as hard as they could.  After playing quite a long set, the last song was played.  Everything about Lifelessness’ performance was jaw dropping and a great way to end Brick by Brick.

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Nathan’s Underground Music Review: Brick By Brick Festival II