Fans happily get Knocked Loose in Nashville

The year was 1998, and I remember my friends got me a ticket for my birthday to see a brand new band taking the Northeast Hardcore scene by storm. The band was Hatebreed, and prior to this show, my only experience with live heavy metal was the comparatively tame hair metal band Poison. This night would be my first hardcore show, and it would also be the first time I would ever see someone bleed at a concert. I vividly remember one moment that seemed to pass in almost cinematic slow motion: a chaotic blender of a mosh pit, a fist to the face, and a spray of blood that would cover a group of unaware fans. The aggressive and angry nature of the genre resonated with everything I felt inside as a teenager, and while my attendance at hardcore shows has decreased over the years,

I will always hold a special place in my heart for hardcore.

Flash forward 25 years, and I found myself walking into a sold-out Knocked Loose show at the legendary Marathon Music Works in Nashville. Over the last decade, Knocked Loose has exploded in ways other bands can only dream of. Having released their last album, 2019’s “A Different Shade of Blue,” the band still found themselves playing on the main stage at Coachella last year, arguably the largest music festival in America. So, despite spending most of my previous week fighting a nasty cold, I was as hyped as I could possibly be for the night of breakdowns and blast beats ahead of me.

The first band of the night was Speed, and the name couldn’t have been more fitting as their sound was so aggressive and chaotic that it seemed like their opening set just flew right by. I remember them being technically solid, showcasing a traditional style of hardcore, but it will take a few more listens to get a real grasp of who they are. Up next was one of the coolest and unique metal bands I have seen in a very long time, New York’s Show Me the Body. Lead singer Julian Pratt performed with a banjo the entire set, and despite the instrument not typically fitting into heavy metal, it added elements to the music that I really didn’t think possible before. I love the experimental sound of this band, and aside from Knocked Loose, they would be my favorites of the night. It wasn’t just heavy; it felt methodical and intentional, slower, sludge-like textures sound combined with almost militant yelling. Images of Henry Rollins floated through my imagination when I think of this band.

Next up was the UK metal band Loathe, a band that I have been obsessively listening to since I was given a copy of their 2017 album “The Cold Sun.” They have a sound and stage presence that reminds me of Killswitch Engage in that they have the ability to use clean singing and screams in harmonious balance. Sadly, much of their set was plagued with sound issues, and you could tell the band was getting frustrated. At one point, drummer Sean Radcliff left his seat and had to manually fix the drum mic, much to his clear annoyance. Despite all of this, they were still great, and I will be keeping an eye out to see if I can get the opportunity to see them again under different circumstances.

The lights of the venue went completely black, and as the crowd screamed, a fan standing behind the barrier tapped me on the shoulder to yell into my ear, “If I punch you in the head, I am apologizing in advance.” I laughed it off as I figured there was no way his arms could reach that far. What I should have been concerned about was the constant rain of crowd-surfing human bodies being thrown toward the stage. There were moments, especially during “Mistakes Like Fractures,” that I thought for sure I was going to have someone land right on me. It was absolute insanity, and security had all they could handle trying to keep people from getting hurt. Sadly, during “Deadringer,” the band had to abruptly stop right before the breakdown due to an injured fan. I think after this, the audience realized they needed to take it down a notch or else risk putting the rest of the show at risk. Musically, the concert was a masterclass in kicking the audience’s ass through sound. Not one moment felt dull as the band continually bombarded us with song after crushing song. Some highlights for me came in the form of “Bellevue” and “Counting Worms” and their latest hit “Suffocate.” Knocked Loose is quite honestly one of the heaviest bands I have ever seen live and a band that I won’t hesitate to see again.

The angry 17-year-old still inside of me definitely approves!

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