AGNOSTIC FRONT AUSTRALIA TOUR
By: Vishal Rai
AGNOSTIC FRONT | TOE TO TOE | AGAINST
Date: 19th April, 2007
Venue: The Annandale Hotel, Sydney
By far the best show I’ve been to this year.
Just 5 days after the insane SLAYER concert, I was sitting in a bar at The Annandale Hotel where the Godfathers of New York Hardcore, AGNOSTIC FRONT, were playing later that evening. I arrived 2 hours early since I hadn’t gotten my ticket and unlike other venues, I could walk right in. The place, when I got there, was busy. There are people setting up the
drums, fixing the PA, and on the floor I could see guitar and amp cases with “AGNOSTIC FRONT” written on them. That sight itself got me pumped up for the evening that would follow. With plenty of time to kill, I got myself a beer and walked over to the smoking section where I sat next to this humongous tattooed guy and another fellow with a scary scar on his face. Beers over, and with 30 mins till the tickets went on sale, I went out and lined up. The crowd that turned up outside was old-school all the way – an assortment of punks, skins, hardcore kids and biker-looking old men, testament to the fact of how influential AGNOSTIC FRONT has been.
An hour later I was still in line, the lower part of my body getting heavier by the moment, itching for a piss (damn them beers).
By the time I got in, Brisbane’s AGAINST had already started playing. I had seen them open for Raised Fist last year, and just as I remembered, they were SOLID! Fast old-school hardcore with plenty of chugga-chugga parts and massive breakdowns, they owned the crowd from the word “Go!” I recognized a few songs off of “Left For Dead” and “My Hate My Way”. Anyway, their set was kickass and I really wouldn’t mind seeing them again and again.
A 20 minute break later, Aussie scene legends TOE TO TOE took the stage and, to my surprise, the humongous tattooed guy and the fellow with the scary scar turned out to be members of the band, the bassist and the singer to be exact. I may not have known what these guys looked like but I did know their reputation and I expected nothing short of a stellar performance. They did not disappoint. TOE TO TOE played old school hardcore the way it’s meant to be played – with rage, passion, integrity and plenty of heart.
For the next 20 minutes the atmosphere was intense with anticipation and rightfully so since AGNOSTIC FRONT had not visited Australian shores in almost 10 years. This was gonna be a blast.
The mighty AGNOSTIC FRONT hit the stage like a blitz and launched into one classic after another. I’ve forgotten what they started with (I almost always do), but by the time they launched into the opening riff of “Eliminator,” their second song, I was pawned from head to toe. “Killing’s my business and business is fine/Money’s my interest, life isn’t kind,” I was singing along, word for word. “Eliminator” led to “New Jack,” another classic which in turn led to more classics. I climbed onto a window sill for a better view and saw the unusual, jerky stances of the legendary Vinnie Stigma which brought a smile to my face. Badass vocalist Roger Miret was clad in his trademark black gear, closely resembling his younger step-brother Freddy Cricien of Madball.
The band kept bombarding us with their finest material: “Victim In Pain,” “United Blood,” “Your Mistake,” “Public Assistance,” “Blind Justice,” “Friend Or Foe” as well as cuts from their latest album “Another Voice”, tracks such as “So Pure To Me,” “Peace” and “All Is Not Forgotten” whose mammoth chugging riff incited a huge circle pit, the biggest I’ve seen in an indoor venue. Despite being so aggressive, one of the most special things about AGNOSTIC FRONT is their insanely sing-along verses/choruses, so, by the time sing-alongs like “Gotta Go,” “Riot Riot Upstart” and “Police State” ended my throat was hoarse. A break was what I needed and that’s what I got as the band exited the stage.
A short break later, they were back for the encore. Stigma was back alone at first singing the hilarious “Pauly The Dog.” As he finished, the entire band was back and quickly burst into “Something’s Gotta Give” (if I remember correctly) which then led to “Believe” with it’s rousing “Believe we are right/Believe we are strong/Believe in yourself/Believe HARDCORE” chorus. Brilliant and, unfortunately, that was the end.
It’s surprising that after all these years AGNOSTIC FRONT still have to play in small, dingy places (the venue was no bigger than G’s Terrace in Thamel) while bands they’ve influenced play bigger clubs. Nonetheless, I’m sure they wouldn’t have it any other way because this is a band that has dedicated its life to hardcore. AGNOSTIC FRONT don’t just play hardcore, they ARE hardcore.