CONCERT REVIEW: Hardcore Jam brings hope, security to Pa. hardcore community

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First Posted: 3/10/2014

The Keystone Hardcore Jam II, presented by The Trinity, was held on Friday, Feb. 28 and Saturday, March 1. Day two of the Hardcore Jam brought Menace, Sicker Than Most, Yesterday’s Youth, Clenched Fist, Incendiary, Lifeless, Harm’s Way, 100 Demons, Wisdom In Chains, Ramallah, and Sheer Terror to Reading’s Reverb nightclub.

Standing throughout the sea of camouflage, beards, and Carhartt beanies were tired, yet eager supporters of hardcore, waiting to enjoy a few hours of fast-paced, adrenaline-driven music. It was an hour after doors had opened, and many entertained themselves by talking with their peers, drinking at the bar, or watching “Star Wars: Episode IV – A New Hope,” which was playing on the television screens.

As the night finally started, Menace couldn’t have done a better job getting the crowd fired up. The lines in their opening song “Infamous” provided what could be considered an anthem for the night: “We are the outcast / I am the infamous.”

Despite the rough tattooed look adorned by the members in the bands, it was their words that truly captivated the crowd. Sicker Than Most’s “In Our Blood” exemplifies this well: “There’s times I’ve felt like / felt like giving up / but I can’t give up / it’s not in my blood.”

Yesterday’s Youth and Clenched Fist were also crowd pleasers.

However, it was the halfway mark of the night when things were beginning to come to life. Long Island’s Incendiary, New Jersey/Delaware’s Lifeless, and Chicago’s Harm’s Way each gave solid performances that left the crowd chanting for more.

Events such as the Hardcore Jam have attracted people from all over. Despite being in Middle-of-Nowhere, Pa., the parking lot was packed with a large amount of cars from other states; fans from Delaware, New Jersey, North Carolina, New York, and Michigan were present.

Sarah Zitnik of Woodhaven, Mich., was one of the many traveling for the show. She revealed the lineup was too good to pass up.

Zitnik told The Weekender that the almost 10-hour drive to Reading was worth it. “People were a lot more unified and friendly and much less judgmental than I’m used to,” she said.

“I plan on coming back next year and making it a point to travel to more out of state hardcore fests like that,” Zitnik added confidently.

Hardcore music is known to provide positive messages to its listeners, but for Boston’s Ramallah, singing about society’s fascination with celebrities also works. They ended their set with “Kill a Celebrity” as the crowd yelled out, “I’d love to detonate a car bomb at the doors of your precious MTV and put some sarin gas in the central A.C. at the VMAs and watch those beautiful faces turn ashen gray.”

Wisdom In Chains, one of the biggest assets to Pennsylvania hardcore, or PAHC, are no strangers to the Keystone Hardcore Jam. In fact, they are no strangers to fests of the like, such as This Is Hardcore in Philadelphia and East Coast Tsunami Fest, also at Reverb.

The Weekender asked Wisdom In Chains guitarist Richie Mancuso about the Hardcore Jam’s purpose in the Pa. community. “The attitude here is all about the music, not about judging people, not about insulting people. Just about coming out and enjoying a comfortable atmosphere and some great music,” Mancuso said.

Mancuso was involved with the planning and preparing for the weekend, the second time it was brought to Reverb.

Reverb and its staff share a love of the music and the scene with the bands and fans; venue security and managers can be found in the crowd with everyone else, singing along with the words.

This is just one reason why Reverb acts as one of hardcore’s few “homes.” “So many venues just do not understand our scene. It scares them or they don’t take it seriously,” revealed Mancuso. “Reverb understands it, lives it.”

The night was concluded with performances by 100 Demons, Wisdom In Chains, and Sheer Terror, and the Keystone Hardcore Jam itself was reassurance that hardcore music in Pennsylvania is alive and well.