This year for Cinco de Mayo in Austin, we celebrated with some of last year’s best Warped Tour acts playing the outdoor stage at Emo’s: Alexisonfire (pictured left) and Therefore I Am. They were joined by hardcore acts Trash Talk and opener La Dispute. We expected this show to be hot, rowdy, awesome and full of surprises. That being said, we had no idea what we were in for. This has, by far, been our craziest show this year. Hint: There will be blood (and handcuffs).
The first surprise of the evening was how much we liked the young opening band, La Dispute. The Grand Rapids quintet drew a small but rabid crowd of kids who hung on their every lyric and couldn’t stop climbing on each other to get their time on the mic when frontman Jordan Dreyer passed it to the front row. It’s easy to see why those who like La Dispute are such hardcore fans. Dreyer is very engaging and humble. He often jumped down off stage and performed in the middle of the crowd. The music itself was only slightly above average, but the potential for bigger things is there. I picture an underage Thursday sounding something like La Dispute.
The second band on the bill was Boston natives and Equal Vision recording artist Therefore I Am. The post-hardcore prodigies opened with their latest album’s title track, “The Sound of Human Lives.” The song opens with lots of guitar feedback and is instrumental. Right after that intro, lead singer Alex Correia came out from backstage and before any lyrics came out of his mouth, he dived into the crowd with no warning sign whatsoever. Bearded and sweaty, Correia and company really got things going early with “Splinters.”
Like La Dispute before them, Therefore I Am were also very engaging, taking things a step further by waxing philosophic about pettiness and superficiality. The best quote of the night came when Correia told everyone they need to “get over your awesome tats, skinny jeans and cool haircuts and just come together to enjoy the music and have a good time.”
Next was Sacramento’s hardcore/thrash pride and joy, Trash Talk. This is when things started to get crazy. Before the set even started, a bunch of young geniuses thought it was a good idea to stage-dive into a crowd not expecting it, landing hard on the concrete floor. At Emo’s, there is a no-stage-diving rule. This is advertised by a sign on the main pillar by the front of the stage. As the staff started kicking people out, dragging them out kicking and screaming rather, they pointed to the sign. There were like five people kicked out before Trash Talk even began.
Once Trash Talk got started, the crowd was larger and more aggressive than it was for the first two bands. Trash Talk plays hard and fast, like fast as in super-short songs. They had their own mini-legion of hardcore fans up front jumping on each other trying to get the mic to scream along. That climbing turned into more stage diving and more dudes getting kicked out. Even front man Lee McFag (probably not his real name) took notice, snidely exclaiming, “Now that everyone who came to see us has been kicked out, we’ll have to play louder so they can hear us on the street.”
Musically, Trash Talk was disappointing and they sounded better on MySpace. Their live songs were too short to get into and all of McFag’s in-between banter was better than his singing/screaming. He too participated in the stage-diving festivities and engaged his crowd really well. The only thing I’ll really remember about their set beyond this point is bass player Spencer Pollard’s awesome old school Reeboks. “Reverse Jams!”
Just when I thought things would get back to normal, they got way out of hand for headliner Alexisonfire. In what should’ve been an experience completely about their epic live show and music, we ended up with a circus of sorts. Alexisonfire (pronounced “Alexis-on-fire”) were stellar live, as expected. It was the crowd that was crazy.
What little I caught of Alexisonfire was outstanding. They sounded better live than do on records. They were also one of the sweatiest bands I’ve seen, as experienced first hand when bassist Chris Steele jumped into the crowd with bass in hand, right on top of me. I also discovered that many of their fans have man crushes on guitarist Dallas Green, as the group of dudes next to me discussed the minutia of Dallas for a good 20 minutes before the set.
The crowd singing “Happy Birthday” to guitarist Wade MacNeil was the last part of the show I caught before a big, multi-person fight broke out on the left side of the stage. The fight got the staff intervening and kicking out a good amount of people, maybe around eight or so from what I counted. The drama didn’t end once they were kicked out, as Austin’s finest were right there outside the door at Emo’s, cuffing some of those involved. It’s a shame when something like that happens at a concert, a place where people who share the love of their favorite band’s music are supposed to come together. I don’t think Alexisonfire would have wanted things to turn out that way. That’s the way these kind of shows go sometimes, with crowds as angsty or angry as some of the songs.
Honestly, I’d do it all over again in a heartbeat.