Concert review: Hatebreed and company celebrate 20 years of Perseverance | 11.04.22, Pop’s (with photo gallery)

Jamey Jasta of Hatebreed. Photo by Jen Ruff. See below for a full photo gallery of the show.

Hatebreed w/ Dying Wish, Bodysnatcher, and Gatecreeper | 11.04.22 | Pop’s, 401 Monsanto Ave, Sauget, IL

Last Friday, Connecticut metalcore institution Hatebreed brought a cavalcade of budding talent to Pop’s for a show celebrating the 20th anniversary of Perseverance, their second studio album and one of the most commercially successful metal albums of its era.

Dying Wish (Portland, OR) is an up-and-coming metallic hardcore band whose sound harkens back to the scene’s more traditional sound in the late ‘90s (when bands like Hatebreed first rose to prominence) as opposed to the highly polished, pop-emo inspired brand of metalcore that bands like Bring Me the Horizon popularized in the mid-2000s. Dying Wish released their debut album Fragments of a Bitter Memory in 2021 through SharpTone Records and have been touring almost non-stop since April 2022, supporting bands as varied as The Devil Wears Prada, Loathe, and even Limp Bizkit(!). This band played with a tremendous amount of enthusiasm, thanks in no small part to their frontwoman, the incredibly charming Emma Boster (who can dance a mean two-step). Although I find their music at present to be rather derivative of its influences, it was clear that they invest a great deal of energy into their live performances.

Members of Dying Wish worked their own merch table before and after their set, and tellingly, they had the longest lines by far, with many people in the audience queuing up for selfies and autographs. I was able to speak with rhythm guitarist Pedro Carrillo, who was warm, friendly, and enthusiastic to share his thoughts on the band’s performance that night and the modern metalcore scene as a whole. Dying Wish last played in St. Louis on September 3rd, when they opened for veteran melodic metalcore band The Devil Wears Prada at Red Flag. Carrillo noted that Dying Wish will next be supporting Counterparts on the latter band’s national tour. Counterparts will be playing at Red Flag with SeeYouSpaceCowboy on November 18th, and although Dying Wish will not be joining them for that date, Carrillo highly recommends that St. Louis metalcore fans attend.

Bodysnatcher is a deathcore band from Melbourne, FL. Truthfully, I did not catch much of Bodysnatcher’s performance—I was waiting in the long line at Dying Wish’s merch table to try to speak with Emma Boster during their set—but it was clear that they knew all of the right maneuvers to get an audience invested at a hardcore show. Of all the bands performing that night, they were the one I was the least familiar with, but after seeing them live I am definitely interested in listening to more of their material. Bodysnatcher previously played at Pop’s in May 2022, where they opened for technical death metal stalwarts Dying Fetus (notably, many members of the audience were wearing Dying Fetus merch, possibly purchased at that very show). After finishing their upcoming dates with Hatebreed, Bodysnatcher will be finishing up the year supporting Carnifex and Chelsea Grin on their 2022 European tour.

Since forming in 2013, Gatecreeper (Tucson, AZ) has released two full-length albums and three EPs, in addition to split LPs with artists such as Iron Reagan and Exhumed. The band has earned a significant following in recent years due to word-of-mouth enthusiasm for their live performances, as well as an off-stage reputation for being class acts who genuinely care about their fanbase. As is often the case in a community riddled with scene politics, Gatecreeper’s meteoric rise to fame has earned them a fair number of detractors as well: infamously, members of the highly-vaunted progressive death metal band Blood Incantation dismissed Gatecreeper’s music as “cookie-cutter shit” and compared them to Taylor Swift in a 2022 interview. The criticisms against Gatecreeper center around a perception that their music is simplistic and overly derivative of popular death metal bands from the ‘90s (e.g., Autopsy, Asphyx, Obituary); I will confess that I largely shared this opinion going into their set.

Gatecreeper’s indebtedness to the trappings of early ‘90s death metal was immediately apparent: every member of the band looked they like could have comfortably fit in with an early lineup for Morbid Angel. Fortunately, the rumors about this band’s contagious charm were completely confirmed—the members were disarmingly sincere in their performance, with lead guitarist Eric Wagner giving many a celebratory fist pump and nod of approval to the crowd. The enthusiasm for Gatecreeper was apparent in the audience reaction to them, with many people in the crowd saying that they came to the show specifically to see them. I spoke with audience member Hank from Belleville, IL, a long-time Gatecreeper fan from the early days of their career who has seen them live multiple times. Hank plays in a local “thrashcore” band and says that bands like Gatecreeper are an inspiration for his own performances.

Having spent the better part of my early metal/hardcore nerd years as a Hatebreed skeptic, I was a little reluctant going into their set. I owned a copy of Perseverance on CD throughout high school (as I’m sure many in the crowd did), my curiosity in the band having been piqued through internet forums proclaiming it as one of the greatest commercial metal albums of the decade. I remember listening to it once or twice, enjoying the Slayer-like riffs (Slayer guitarist Kerry King even makes a cameo on the album) but finding its lyrical themes of self-determination to be rather cheesy and on-the-nose. Prior to Friday night’s show, I hadn’t given that album, or the rest of Hatebreed’s discography, any real attention since that early exposure.

Another major factor in my apathy towards Hatebreed: for years, I had a vague awareness of (unfounded) allegations about members of the band being racist or homophobic. The controversy stems from a 2012 CNN article reporting on a mass shooting at a Sikh temple in Milwaulkee, the perpetrator of which had connections to the white supremacist music scene. In their original article, CNN mistakenly included Hatebreed on a list of alleged white supremacist bands, apparently because the author confused them with one of the many skinhead bands with “Hate” in their name. Although Hatebreed and its fans were quick to call out CNN’s error, the bogus association seems to persist to this day, and it was mentioned by a few audience members during interviews I conducted between sets. It is important to note that Hatebreed vocalist Jamey Jasta has expressed explicitly anti-racist sentiments in multiple interviews.

As with Gatecreeper, any prejudices I had towards Hatebreed based on their studio recordings quickly melted away once they took to the stage. Jasta is as lively and entertaining a vocalist as a hardcore band, or any band that matter, could hope for: he bantered with the crowd after every song, offering his heartfelt thanks to both the new converts in the crowd and the Hatebreed diehards who have seen them at one of the many, many performances they’ve given at Pop’s since the release of Perseverance in 2002. It was clear that Pop’s had a special place in the band’s heart, and that they were eager to give the crowd a performance that was worthy of their legacy. This is a band whose music is (and likely always was) meant to be seen live: lyrics about unity and fighting for one’s beliefs that may seem corny during private listening take on a new meaning when chanted in unison with a surging crowd of headbangers. The band closed their set with “I Will Be Heard,” the most popular song from Perseverance and an audience favorite: I counted at least four instances of crowd-surfing during this one song alone.

Audience members frequently cited the sense of camaraderie they experience at hardcore shows to be a motivating factor to why they went to last Friday’s show. Alex from Springfield, MO, who is active in her city’s local hardcore scene, said that this was her first time at Pop’s, and that the experience was a positive one: “A lot of energy, a lot of very nice people, no issues with the crowd at all.” Like many in the crowd, she said that she appreciates the sense of community she gets going to hardcore shows, which is second-to-none. I am inclined to agree with Alex—Hatebreed, you’ve made a fan of me yet. | David Von Nordheim

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