I could hear Hand of Mercy while waiting in a line that stretched out around the side of The Hi-Fi, I could definitely hear them. It’s just a shame that in the forty or so minutes that I waited to get into the 2013 edition of the Boys of Summer tour, I missed all but about three minutes of their set. But hey, that’s the only negative thing I could say about the event, because apart from that, this much-lauded punk and hardcore annual didn’t disappoint.
San Francisco’s First Blood entered the stage to the serenity of USA for Africa’s We Are the World, which, in its own disguised way, is the exact same message that First Blood’s political hardcore conveys: change the world, don’t be apathetic, fight.. And from the very first heavy chords of their opener, Armageddon II from their 2010 LP Silence Is Betrayal, there was certainly a lot of fightin’ going on. Flailing arms were swinging. Capoeira kicks were launched. Faces were punched. Yet everyone braving the circle was clearly having a lot of fun. Songs like Enemy and Lies from the aforementioned Silence is Betrayal kept the crowd energised early, and even though the circle-pit incited by singer Carl Schwartz failed to really get going, a couple of songs from the band’s 2007 debut album Killafornia (Suffocate and Victim) saw the crowd get crazy just for a little bit.
Canada’s hardcore heroes Comeback Kid were up next, and it was clear that they were the biggest drawcard on the night. In a big venue that was only probably two-thirds full for the night, the Winnipeg quartet (well, five-piece on the night with an extra touring guitarist) got everybody on the floor. They began with False Idols Fall from their 2005 classic Wake the Dead, then followed with Do Yourself a Favor from 2011’s Symptoms + Cures. In between playing some of their more well-known songs like Broadcasting.. and All In a Year, singer Andrew Neufeld reminisced that the band had toured Australia seven or so times, and then proceeded to give their fanbase a jaw-dropping finale of The Concept Stays, Because of All, and G.M. Vincent and I from Symptoms + Cures, before ending with the all-time classic Wake the Dead, which had the entire venue screaming along.
Deez Nuts closed the night in their true party style, but it seemed that Comeback Kid had taken too much out of the crowd. Half the people had left already and the other half seemed too tired to party anymore. To the faithful, the Melbourne boys still delivered a big party hardcore set of Tonight We’re Gonna Party, There’s a Party Over Here, Ain’t Shit Over There and the hardcore kids favourite Your Mother Should’ve Swallowed You. J. J. Peters and co. performed a couple of new songs on the night too. Shot after Shot gave a nod to Danny Brown’s Blunt after Blunt, while Band of Brothers was one of the best songs of the set. The band finished with Hustle Everyday – and a day later, my ears are still ringing.