Cro-Mags & Eyehategod Concert Review

Cro-Mags & Eyehategod
March 18, 2018
The Riot Room - Kansas City, MO

Cro-Mags
While the two groups share a history with record label Century Media -- and at least a decent amount of fans -- the co-headliner pairing of Cro-Mags and Eyehategod was still met with some surprise upon its announcement. When it came time to play on Sunday night at The Riot Room, however, it became clear this odd couple was even more so a power couple. Cro-Mags and and Eyehategod are already considered institutions within their subgenres -- hardcore punk and sludge metal respectively -- and will be continue to be hailed as such regardless of their current state, but Sunday night's show proved their longevity in two forty minute sets.

Following a nearly hour-long wait between bands, Cro-Mags took the stage five minutes before 11 P.M. All the venue's lights were shut off and a theme was played over the PA. It was a bit cheesy considering the band's gritty New York City roots, but when you're the Cro-Mags, you can get away with that kind of thing. The band kicked off its set with three tracks from its classic debut, "The Age Of Quarrel," and one from its follow-up, "Best Wishes," before taking its first real pause of the set.

By then, the band had worked up a heavy sweat, but singer John Joseph made it a point to proudly announce that it was their first ever visit to Kansas City. As the band dove head-first back into the set with a crazed, galloping rendition of "Street Justice" -- a track about the olden days of good old face-to-face confrontation -- Joseph really began to show that he's an Olympian, as far as hardcore frontpeople go. He spent nearly the whole set skipping, trotting, and quick-stepping across the stage for his band's classics, and even more than usual during two back-to-back Bad Brains covers. His martial arts practice seems to be doing him good. After a one-two gut-punch of an encore -- "We Gotta Know" and "Hard Times" -- Joseph briefly sang the chorus to the R&B standard "Kansas City." When The Beatles' version plays in Kansas City, it's because the Royals have won. When Joseph sang it, a room full of hardcore kids had just won.
Mike Williams of Eyehategod

Seeing the members of Eyehategod cheer on the Cro-Mags from the side of the stage and adopt their Positive Mental Attitude was also a blast. Despite Eyehategod's intense imagery of drug abuse and violence, its members had plenty of fun during their set too. Sex jokes and friendly chatter with their fans punctuated their time on the stage; singer Mike Williams even playfully grabbed at guitarist Jimmy Bower on a couple different occasions mid-song. The sludge that rang from their instruments, though, was no laughing matter. Bower's four-stringed assault slowly whipped fans into a craze as the band piled on hits from its seminal "Take As Needed For Pain." The band left the stage as fans screamed for more. Metal-only metalheads wished the band they came just to see had played more than a measly 40 minutes, but the punks in the room knew the value of a less-than-an-hour set.

The show's local support also took the "less is more" approach. In addition to tracks from its first two releases, Altered Beast offered up at least one brand new track for their friends to chew on. Vocalist Ryan Leach's mid-set spiels and on-stage moves may get in the way of some punks enjoying Altered Beast sets, but to the metal fans who are used to those types of theatrics, Leach's cartoonish levels of energy commanded plenty of respect. The band's 20 minute set of metallic hardcore was one of its most polished yet.

Devil's Den's opening set clocked in at less than 10 minutes. Consisting only of its five song debut and a cover, the band kicked out no-frills East Coast-style hardcore that likely pleased John Joseph and company if they managed to catch it. The songs never hit the two minute mark, but bassist Daniel Evans was perpetually slouched backward from the sheer amount of grooves he was able to cram in.

Full photo gallery here.

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