Gallows at 7th Street Entry, 11/15/12

Gallows at 7th Street Entry, 11/15/12
Photo by Gavin Watson

with Barn Burner, Brain Tumors and the Gillespie Killings
7th Street Entry, Minneapolis

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Gallows' set at the roughly half-full Entry Thursday night opened like a punch to the jaw from a brass knuckles-outfitted Lennox Lewis. But as the too-short--though exceptionally rowdy--40-minute set unfolded, it became increasingly difficult to figure out exactly what the punch was for and its initial tooth-loosening impact had faded to dull ache by the end. It was odd to have the Canadian lead singer (former Alexisonfire vocalist/guitarist Wade MacNeil, who replaced founding member Frank Carter) of a British band proselytize about the President of the United States. Stranger still to have so much sports talk at a hardcore show -- the hockey season cancellation has set MacNeil in a bad place of sorts, apparently. None of it was outright awful, mind you, there were just some strange vibes throughout the set, but quite a lot can happen in 40 minutes.

They began with "Misery" from 2009's Grey Britain and almost immediately MacNeil tore off the Bridge Nine (their new record label) flag he had been wearing as a cape, pitched it into the crowd and jumped off the Entry's small stage, inciting a pit that swirled around him as he barked out the lyrics like a meth-addled pit bull. "Everybody Loves You (When You're Dead)" from this year's self-titled offering followed and the set was off to a raucous start. The set came to an unfortunate halt a couple songs later, however, as MacNeil ruminated about hockey for far too long and then, seemingly realizing what he had done, pushed the envelope further after the band started "London is the Reason" by jumping off stage once more, this time to get a beer from the bar.

"True Colours" and a phenomenal version of "Vapid Adolescent Blues" rolled by, but just when the crowd had all but forgotten the awkwardness from a few minutes prior, MacNeil upped the ante by questioning a fan in a Subhumans T-shirt. "Which Subhumans is that, U.K. or Canada?" MacNeil queried and received an answer he did not like: "U.K.," responded the crowd member. "Well, if you're going to ask the Canadian lead singer of a U.K. band which is better, you know the answer -- it's fucking obvious to me," MacNeil ranted along, with bassist Stuart Gili-Ross offering, "Do people even know about the Canadian Subhumans?" "I don't know, do they?" asked MacNeil, pointing his microphone in drummer Lee Barratt's direction. "Just play the fuckin' song, man!" responded Barratt before the band threw the night's haymaker with "In the Belly of a Shark" from their 2006 debut Orchestra of Wolves. They ended the encore-free set with "Cross of Lorraine" and "Orchestra of Wolves," but by then it was all for naught.

What could have easily been an exceedingly memorable set had been rendered simply above average due to MacNeil's eccentric, off-putting antics and the rest of the band's refusal to rein him in. Many of the Entry's temporary tenants were up front for the beginning of the set but that number slowly dwindled as the show ran its course. The ones who remained were energetic and loud, the whirlpool pit giving life and an intoxicating sense of danger to the Entry's floor but the vast majority of those in attendance should have been there; instead it just looked a small group of people desperately trying to make a legendary party out of one that was just a little more fun than usual.

Critic's Bias: Hardcore is a genre that's mostly lost on me but Orchestra of Wolves unlocked the mystery a bit and I absolutely love that album. Still, it's better than 99.9 percent of all the hardcore I've ever heard (read: it's tuneful and has discernable chords) so it's not a genre I'll be delving into anytime soon.

The Crowd: It's often said that hardcore is a lifestyle in addition to being a musical genre and many seemed to be leading that life.

Random Tidbit: A guy in the crowd was waving the Bridge Nine flag above his head for nearly the entire set. It reminded me of every film clip of hardcore shows I've ever seen and for just a minute, I wanted this to be taking place in a filthy, beer-stained basement in a really bad part of town.

Notebook Dump: Why the hell is he talking about Obama as the world's savior? This is really weird.

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