New York’s Hardcore Finest: Madball, Murphy’s Law, Burn, Cro-Mags “JM” Heavy Up Tompkins Square Park (SHOW REVIEW)

Last year the team at Black N’ Blue Productions kicked off the (semi-controversially) return of live music to NYC with a packed Tompkins Square Park show on the Lower East Side. This year the bands returned, and while the crowd was slightly less, the music was a killer collection of New York Hardcore’s finest to benefit the Tunnels 2 Towers foundation. 

Under perfectly sunny spring skies the opening reggae-based outfit The Capturers kicked off the afternoon show with a short set of mellow tunes. The track “Run, Run, Run” eased fans into the park and was augmented by horns, keyboards, and congas. After the bright openers, things got heavy quick as Wisdom In Chains delivered their old school-inspired hardcore as the stage diving and moshing began. The band blasted out “When We Were Wrong” following a ripping guitar solo intro and wrapped up their energetic set with fan-favorite “Dragging Me Down”.

NYHC legends The Cro-Mags JM were added as special guests close to the show date and delivered their classic Age of Quarrel tracks to the energized crowd. John Joseph played the role of Cyrus asking the fans “Can You Dig It?” before dropping into the pounding “World Peace”. The stage was overtaken by youthful slam dancers as “Malfunction” rang out loudly with “Street Justice” getting the punk juices flowing. AJ Novello’s blazing guitar work was augmented by crowd chants on “We Gotta Know” before “Hard Times” wrapped up the classic set. 

Speaking of NYHC legends, Burn was up next and unlike other bands on the bill, the quartet rarely plays live these days. The opening “Cleanse” showed the group’s talents of mixing their hard-edged sound with brain-opening guitar breaks from Gavin Van Vlack as the feedback washed over the park. Frontman Chaka Malik had some microphone issues mid-set but not before a titanic rendering of “Godhead”. The powerful group piled on the reverb and the extended songs using the chunky riffs of “Drown” before the ferocious closing “Shall Be Judged” proved the highlight of the afternoon. 

The hits just kept coming as Murphy’s Law celebrated Earth Day as frontman Jimmy Drescher played the role of a hippy as clouds of weed smoke wafted throughout the park with the band blasting “Quest For Herb”. Like all the acts their set was short but packed with energy like on “Panty Raid” which had Jimmy’s Jager bottle being played like a cowbell, “Cavity Creeps” which saw a very young fan helping out on vocals, and “Beer” complete with dynamite guitar work. This current lineup of the band (Amy Wappel, Ben Social, Seth Nelsen) is the strongest the group has sounded in years as they wrapped up with a cover of Fleetwood Mac’s “Somebody’s Gonna Get Their Head Kicked In Tonight”. 


The skies became overcast, but the rain held off as scene legends Madball headlined the event with their no-nonsense punk/hardcore style. Freddy Cricien exploded onto the stage with “Set It Off” via some loud loose bass thumps followed with the slapping “Smell The Bacon (What’s With You?)”. The band incorporated some of their hip-hop influence with “Rev Up” and slammed metallic with “Can’t Stop, Won’t Stop”. Madball blew it out for the “Doc Martin Stomp” and the rumbling drums delivered “HeavenHell” to the masses. Once again all involved prove that hardcore still lives as the friendly family affair was an overwhelming success.   

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