Text and Photos: Wayne Ballard
In its 9th year of operation, Southern California based festival Sound & Fury continues to represent everything I love and want out of a Hardcore-based music festival. 2017 marked my fourth year attending the festival and this year may have been the most excited I’ve ever been for any of the years I’ve attended. Some of my fondest memories as a young adult took place at this festival, so to be able to document it throughout the weekend was a very cool feeling.
The fest itself started for most people on Thursday at the official Sound & Fury kickoff show at UNION in Los Angeles. Union has become a go-to space for HC touring packages going through LA proper, so for the Kickoff taking place there for the second year felt right. The Kickoff show featured a five band bill including Dead Heat, No Right, Human Garbage, Homewrecker, and Downpresser. Show itself was a perfect way to get the weekend going, but I must say, Dead Heat and No Right absolutely stole the show for me. Seeing both bands get such insane reactions for being relatively new was very cool to see. Both have new music dropping later this year.
Highlight from the Kickoff: Homewrecker played the best Sepultura cover I’ve ever seen in my life at the show. There’s video footage of it floating around somewhere on youtube, highly suggest watching the entire set and enjoying that cover as well.
I ventured into LA bright and early for Day One of the fest for the normal hotel check-in and getting all settled in nonsense. The first day as a whole was perfect, a great mix of new blood and long time S&F veterans. Step For Change opened the day and honestly, there couldn’t have been a better set to open the first day of the fest. I’ve been watching this band play on a regular basis for two years or so now, so to see their hard work getting such a warm and large reaction was incredible.
Highlights of Day One: Ecostrike & Lower Species back to back may have been one of my favorite blocks of the weekend; Xibalba cutting 3 years off of everyone’s life by running the fog machine at full blast for an entire set. Reminded me of seeing Sunn O))) but with less cloaks and more notes played; Bracewar with their yearly reminder that they’re the untouched Champions of S&F weekend; FIREWALKER!!!! Take Offense dropping another historic S&F set; Fury proving yet again that they’re one of the best active live HC bands in the land; Harness returning from the grave to remind everyone they’re a force to be reckoned with; Terror playing their first set in LA in over a year and dropping one of my favorite sets of the weekend. Band has been around for 15 or so years and still puts on one of the more energetic sets in all of HC; Turnstile being Turnstile. Whether you love or hate that band, their live set is unmatched with pure energy.
Following the first day of the fest, I jumped down a block or two away from the Regent to attend the Closed Casket Activities aftershow at Five Star Bar. The original lineup for the aftershow featured Criminal Instinct, God’s Hate and Incendiary, but CCA had some tricks up their sleeve for the night. Eyes of the Lord and Nails jumped onto the show as last minute surprises. To my knowledge, this was the first set Eyes of the Lord (Featuring ex/current members of 100 Demons / Nails / Twitching Tongues) ever played and goddamn, they were great live.They dropped their debut EP on CCA in April, I urge you to check it out asap. Immediately following them was Nails playing a quick Unsilent Death set. Been awhile since I’ve seen Nails play as a three piece, so them jumping on as a last minute addition was one of my favorite moments of the weekend.
Day Two of S&F may have been my most anticipated day of the entire weekend. Saturday of the fest always tends to end up being my favorite day of the weekend. Last year brought us the legendary Ceremony set, that to this day is my favorite S&F set ever. This year brought us even more sets that would go down in S&F history.
Highlights of Day Two: The Bay Area was incredibly represented early in the day. Profile, Primal Rite, and especially Torso threw down some outstanding sets; Queensway giving us a little reminder that Baltimore Hardcore is still a very active & strong force; Vein dropping one of the best “early slot” sets of the entire weekend; Bent Life screaming “who wants a beer” every few minutes and whipping them at people in the back of the room; GATECREEPER!!!!; Krimewatch giving a reminder that it’s totally okay to enjoy straight up Punk music on a weekend filled with a number of “heavy” acts; Free dropping one of my favorite sets of the weekend; HARLEY FLANAGAN!! Say what you want about the dude and the Cro-Mags saga, but he threw down the set of the weekend for me. One of those S&F sets that will be remembered forever in history; Incendiary reminding us why they’re the best “heavy” bands playing live music today; Shout out to whoever decided to kill the lights during that Incendiary set, was scary in just the right way; Trapped Under Ice closing out normal fest activities with a perfect set. There couldn’t have been a better set to end the fest itself.
Following the second day of the fest I made the block or two walk over to Five Star Bar for the second Aftershow to take place there. This show would be the Triple B Records showcase, which top to bottom was packed full of great music. The show featured Warfare, Free, Forced Order, and Self Defense Family. Young & In The Way was supposed to play, but scheduling didn’t line up for the night unfortunately. The four band bill was a great way to close out Saturday of the weekend. Free and Forced Order had my favorite sets of the night without a doubt. Forced Order has a new LP dropping on Triple B Records shortly, so I strongly urge you to keep an eye out for that.
My last Sound and Fury show for the weekend was the Pop Wig Records show over at the Hi-Hat. Usually by this point in the weekend I’m 100% over watching bands play music and all I want to do is sleep for an unreasonable amount of hours, but this time around I was 100% ready and excited for this final show of the weekend. The Pop Wig Rock Gig featured Bugg, Odd Man Out, Big Bite, Firewalker, and Angel Du$t and to be honest, out of all the S&F weekend side shows, this was my favorite from start to bottom. It’s really hard for me to pick out a few specific sets to say were my “favorite” from the night, so I’ll just strongly suggest to check out every band on this bill.
So much for not rambling, huh?
In closing, I would like to thank Riley and Martin once again for what they do and would like to thank everyone who helps out through the weekend. Sound & Fury has been a pretty big part of my life since moving to California, so to see it still going strong is very cool. 2018 marks the 10th year of operation for the fest, so expect another weekend of fun to come. Make it a point to attend S&F if you can, without a doubt my favorite fest.