Madball @ Gramercy Theatre (1/20/2012)

Madball has been a seminal N.Y.H.C. band for years since their original inception in 1988 and thanks to ties within the Agnostic Front family and continual activity they have held the banner high for the Hardcore music scene. Over the years I think I have seen the sum total of Hardcore shows that one could easily count on two hands but that does not mean I don’t like some of the stuff. I just don’t always have the chance to offer up coverage as I am not the best study of the scene nor always free to do so. Tonight’s show was a Black ‘N Blue Productions presentation and they are generally behind events of this kind. The gig was going to feature Maximum Penalty as direct support and also give the fans sets by The Last Stand, Suburban Scum and Dead End Path. I got there early enough to see everyone since I wanted to indulge myself in the whole scene properly. Scroll past the logo below to see the full concert report and photos.

Artist: Madball
Venue: Gramercy Theatre (New York, NY)
Opener: Maximum Penalty, Dead End Path, Suburban Scum, The Last Stand
Date: 1/20/2012
Label: Good Fight Records

I don’t generally get myself into Hardcore shows because while I have enjoyed some of the stuff presented by its greats over the years, I am just not the biggest study of it all at the end of the day. That made this evenings adventure all the more interesting as I headed into the Gramercy Theatre for the Black ‘n Blue Productions presentation of Madball. This legendary Hardcore band has been at the game since around 1988 and for this gig they would bring local Hardcore heroes Maximum Penalty along as direct support. There were three other bands on the bill as well with The Last Stand, Dead End Path and Suburban Scum. The price of admission was a mere $20 on the day of the show and that was even lower had you been smart enough to purchase an advance ticket. I got inside nice and early to absorb the whole night and here is how it went down.

The gig started rather early with 7:30pm having The Last Stand deliver their brand of N.Y.H.C. for a sadly minimal crowd. My guess is the reported set time of 9:45 for Maximum Penalty and even later for Madball was keeping some people away before the “main bands” and I have to say that I always hate when that happens. I generally make it a habit to see who is on the boards first and thanks to this premise have managed to enjoy wonderful Metal bands like Into Eternity and Blackguard before everyone else knew about them. The Last Stand is fronted by Mike Scondotto from Inhuman and they’ve been around since 2010. Both bands keep active on the scene and they delivered a deft and fast paced set that I think any true fans of the form would enjoy. Since this is a Hardcore event the set was over before you knew it.

Up next were Suburban Scum and Dead End Path and of course both bands were new to my ears and hence were very open to seeing what they were about. Suburban Scum came up first and these young New Jersey natives definitely had what appeared to be a proper schooling in the legacy N.Y.H.C. scene. It was aggressive and their singer played to audience, inciting them to move as tune after tune went by. When Dead End Path came on it was like a Mack truck of Hardcore power. I felt if I blinked that I would miss a number and of course these two fine purveyors of the format were done very quickly. It seemed that this might just be an early night if I was lucky. This idea pleased me as the forecast was for snow. It was winter time after all. Now it was time to indulge in a little Maximum Penalty.

Maximum Penalty: As a band MP has been around for a few decades as well and as result is a much respected name in the N.Y.H.C. scene. Fronted by Jim Williams the band took to the stage to the smooth Funk tune “Keep Your Eye On The Sparrow”. I am pretty sure that most fans are too young to know that this was the theme song for the Crime Drama “Baretta” many, many, MANY years back. Sigh. Yes I remember this. Anyways, Maximum Penalty had recently signed to Reaper Records and delivered their newest album “Life and Times” on this brand. The album is a clever mix of the Old School Hardcore aesthetic along with a crunching appreciation for that which is Metal. The band uses a twin guitar attack handled by Joe Affe and new to the mix Rey Fonseca along with long time drummer Darren Morgenthaler and occasional bassist Sean O’Brien and together the sound is a powerful message. There was a lot of cool groove going out amidst the traditional Hardcore throttling and Williams was not hesitant to point out how cool it was to be at a Hardcore show that no fight had broken out at. He also shouted out to his friends and thanked everyone for coming down on a Friday night to support the scene. The band’s set was a mix of the new album and some of their older tunes. I will admit knowing more of the albums stuff with this being my first ever Penalty gig. When it was all added up the new CD had eight tunes performed and the crowd was responding to it by singing back to the band and dancing in true Hardcore fashion. Nicely done and now it was time for the main event, the mighty Madball.

Madball: By the time that Madball was ready to take the stage it seemed as though those last dozen or so people were in place at the venue and ready to tear the room up. I’ve been in this venue about 100 times now and can pretty much gauge how many folks are in the place and from the look of it, there appeared to be about 325 fans were here to witness the band do their thing. I’ve only seen Madball once before and that was back during the Sounds Of The Underground tour I hit back in 2005. At least I think that it was 2005 and it is great to see such a force for this genres nature still hitting the stage and taking no prisoners. Their longtime fans know how the group is fronted by Freddy “Madball” Cricien who is the younger brother of Agnostic Front’s Roger Miret. They were founded in 1988 and during those formative years could have been thought of as an Agnostic Front side band since many of their members also performed in Madball. In today’s music realm Madball has a different lineup and its longest standing member outside of Freddy is their bassist Hoya Roc who has been in the band since 1998. Guitarist Mitts has been in the band since 2002 but drummer Igor is only a couple of years deep. Since my background on their music was light I was just going to let myself be entertained and absorb the set. It was total hurricane up there as Freddy bounded across the stage like he was on fire. The crowd loved every second of his delivery and there were a couple of times where I thought he was going to plunge into the crowd like we see Greg Puciato of Dillinger Escape Plan do. You had to love the visual as when Freddy got close to the audience they jumped up at him like sharks hungry for blood.

The bands set covered a lot of album ground and as mentioned I was not the proper scholar of it but did learn the next day how about three numbers came from their new CD “Empire” and an additional from its predecessor “Infiltrate The System”. They have eight other releases to pull resource from and judging by the crowd they were touching upon as many of those albums as possible. It was an intense hour or so when it all came down to it. This was the second Hardcore styled show in a week at Gramercy Theatre as earlier that week Biohazard had come a calling but some of the fans who I spoke to who had gone said that if 200 people were there for them it was saying something. As I noted there were 325 plus here for Madball and Maximum Penalty and while some might cite that a Tuesday versus a Friday gig has a lot to do with it, I totally disagree and maintain that the audience preferences can and do change. I’ve seen this a lot these days and applaud Madball and Max Pen for giving this ravenous crowd their all. I would certainly come out of the Metal woodwork for this kind of even again if scheduling permitted me to do so. The Hardcore heart is still beating strong in N.Y.C. and it’s great to watch the fans responding in force when its bands come a calling.

Maximum Penalty Set List:
1. Immaculate
2. Hate
3. Threat Assessment
4. Comin’ Home
5. Paper Bullets
6. Myself
7. What Goes Around
8. Tribulations
9. Living In Darkness
10. Life & Times

Madball Set List:
1. Can’t Stop Won’t Stop
2. Hold It Down
3. For My Enemies
4. We The People
5. Get Out
6. NYC
7. R.A.H.C.
8. Down By Law
9. 100%
10. Empire
11. It’s My Life
12. Smell The Bacon
13. Heaven Hell
14. Infiltrate The System
15. DMS
16. All Or Nothing
17. Look My Way
18. Set It Off
19. Hardcore Pride
20. Pride
21. Hardcore Still Lives

Here we have a visual of the venue marquee. As you know I love capturing this posterity. With this being the first full on Hardcore show I have covered for it was all the more important to secure. You’re welcome.

A few years ago someone asked me if I ever took photos of the fans and I had to admit that I seldom did because while important to the show and the band, there was never really a place for me to properly showcase them. With the existence of the blog we now had such a place and we generally try and toss in a few shots of the people we meet at the front barricade. Here goes this particular shows example. I was happy to snare this young lady because she was a whirlwind of circle pit madness and I give her an A+ for her concert enthusiasm. The dude to her left was just another cool dude spoken to who managed to be in the shot as well.

Maximum Penalty Fan Mania

Next up a bunch from the Madball set. The dudes you see in this shot I always run into and I am proud to consider them keepers of the PiercingMetal Faith. They told me they came to this show after seeing Morbid Saint at Europa. Two shows in one night. See. It can be done.

PiercingMetal Legions On Point

Let’s not forget some of the kick ass ladies who were present and tonight there were a lot of them.

N.Y.H.C. Chicks Rule

The guys were going insane as well of course.

Now let’s talk about merch because tonight there was a lot of it and every band had something for the fans to pick up and indulge themselves with in their own homes. There were hoodies and t-shirts, CD’s and vinyl. First up here is the stuff that The Last Stand had available.

The Last Stand Vinyl

Pretty cool that the band had a number of different colors available. Vinyl is really making a comeback it would seem. Perhaps its time to dig all my old stuff out of my Parents basement. I just need a turntable first 🙂 – Here’s the bands lead singer Mike Scondotto with the aforementioned LP.

Mike Inhuman & The Last Stand LP

Now for some of the cool stuff over at the Maximum Penalty side of the table. Check out the shirts and hoodies.  All this stuff had great prices as well and with the ticket price so cheap the fans were downstairs buying stuff some everyone tonight.  Take a lesson from that bands who are charging over $35 bucks for a ticket.

Here’s drummer Darren Morgenthaler showcasing the “Life & Times” album on vinyl. Maybe I should snare one of these for good measure.

MP's Darren and "Life & Times" Vinyl

Here are a couple of shots of the Madball table.

And let’s not forget the guys in Dead End Path either.

I managed to snare a quick video of Maximum Penalty performing the title track “Life & Times” from their new album from the sidelines at the show. I apologize for minimal light but that was the setting I was dealing with. The audio is quite clear so I hope you enjoy it enough to check the album out for yourself.

This was truly an interesting night from beginning to end and I was happy to be a part of it. Closing up, get a gander at the awesome show posted for this event. Makes you mad about missing it I bet doesn’t it?

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