Hatebreed may only have been trying to celebrate its 25th anniversary when it destroyed everything Friday night at Vibes Event Center. But it ended up proving a couple of things in the process.
One: it only appears to be getting started as a band
Two: it doesn’t mess around when it comes to compiling a bill of no-nonsense, throw-it-down hardcore acts
Supported by Obituary, Agnostic Front, Prong and Skeletal Remains, the veterans from Connecticut returned to the Alamo City for yet another performance at a different San Antonio locale. Vocalist Jamey Jasta gave shout-outs to Sunset Station, Sunken Gardens and the White Rabbit — the latter once including a gig in which Hatebreed recruited a drummer the day of the show who learned the setlist during soundcheck — as Hatebreed tore through its career in as friendly of a volatile set as one can get.
Jasta could’ve also mentioned Vans Warped Tour and River City Rockfest visits at the AT&T Center (watch ATM’s 2016 chat from the latter with drummer Matt Byrne and bassist Chris Beattie here). But this initial performance at the Vibes hit hard as Hatebreed delivered the goods on “To the Threshold,” “A.D.,” “Looking Down the Barrel of Today,” “Doomsayer,” “Perseverance,” “Destroy Everything” and finale “I Will Be Heard,” among others (setlist in 55-photo slideshow below). Watch ATM Facebook Live footage of “Tear it Down” and “As Diehard As They Come” here (professional footage of Hatebreed was not allowed).
Jasta brought up the “eight or nine albums, covers album, 7-inches and all that shit” the group has put out during its array of Texas visits, which made one think of the fact Hatebreed has never put out a live record — 2008 DVD “Live Dominance” notwithstanding. That alone makes it all the more impactful upon metalheads and listeners in general to catch Hatebreed live whenever the chance presents itself.
Despite the celebratory mode of the occasion, arguably the biggest story of the night was one that purposely went under the radar. Obituary, direct support to Hatebreed, continued on without bassist Terry Butler — or any bass player — following the death of his daughter in a car accident on the first night of this leg of the tour. Butler’s two grandsons survived the accident, and he and his wife are reportedly taking care of them, forcing him to miss the tour. A GoFundMe page has raised just shy of its $30,000 goal. You can contribute here.
As for the show, the rest of Obituary carried on. It heavily succeeded, in more ways than one, in maintaining a business-as-usual mentality to the tune of “Slowly We Rot,” “I’m in Pain” (ATM footage below) and others.
Agnostic Front, the purveyors of hardcore and punk from New York since 1980, incited the biggest pits of the night despite mic issues plaguing vocalist Roger Miret for the first couple of songs. And that was before original rhythm guitarist Vinnie Stigma parked himself in the middle of the venue surrounded by a wave of South Texas maniacs (ATM footage below). MIret also shone the spotlight on 6-year-old Lucy, who was watching the bands from atop her father’s shoulders until they both were called up on stage. You can see the group, and Lucy, in action via ATM’s Facebook Live footage here.
Another longtime New York staple, Prong, brought its “Ultimate Authority” back to the area as frontman Tommy Victor, bassist Jason Christopher and relatively new drummer Aaron Rossi snapped a few fingers and necks along the way. Having most recently co-headlined with Helmet last year at Paper Tiger, Prong went on second out of the five bands in another example of just how strong this lineup was. See them play “Broken Peace” below.
Skeletal Remains, out of the Los Angeles area, kicked things off on the all-national-band program with a 6:30 p.m. start to its San Antonio death metal debut. Talk about getting your senses whacked into reality after a long work week segued into a metal concert. Watch ATM Facebook Live footage of them here.
Vibes Event Center, meanwhile, continues to evolve as it has added a third stage area within its spacious venue. Along with the regular Rock Box stage and the larger Vibes platform, Vibes Underground now has an intimate “smaller-show” corner along with two more bars and more than 10 private bathrooms. The basement portion has begun taking on acts that were originally scheduled for the recently shut down Jack’s Patio Bar — which, ironically, was where Agnostic Front’s previous San Antonio gig took place in 2015 — thanks to the tireless work of Micaela and Steve Rodriguez and their staff.
Jasta, meanwhile, promised a new Hatebreed album and return visit in the not-too-distant future. Sounds like an excellent occasion for Hatebreed to consider recording its first official live release in the Alamo City. Just a thought from a city that’s always persevered and treated them so well.