Words + Photos by Bobby Talamine
Hardcore and punk intertwine with American Nightmare, a band that started back in 2000 with singer Wesley Eisold, also known by his other popular band Cold Cave. American Nightmare is nothing like Cold Cave in sound and presentation- this is all for intents and purposes, a bare bones kinda set, with minimal load in.
Simply arrive at whatever venue for the evening, unload the musicians and their instruments, and that's it.
Should have known and investigated a bit further on the amped up nature of American Nightmare fans. Simply for the fact that I'm getting older, and physical punishment from all angles to my body is just not as fun as it used to be back in the day.
I was perched on the lip of the stage front and center, surrounded by other photographers and patrons, when not even thirty seconds into American Nightmare's first song "Love American," I was pummeled and crushed repeatedly.
I made the mistake of vacating said spot in front of the stage to the center of the opened mosh pit, to kids going counter clockwise in full tilt by the dozens, not relinquishing their forward march for anybody, especially this photographer.
American Nightmare? Indeed. On many levels.
From the relative safety of stage left audience right, I got my composure to get some decent shots of Wesley and his band, then went up to the balcony to see the rest of the show from there.
I'm not much of a hardcore / punk guy myself to be honest. I do know of some bands in the genre that I've photographed in days of yore, such as GBH, Black Flag, Minor Threat, and of course The Dead Kennedys and The Misfits.
The scene was (and still is), a band / audience communion, with a relentless release of energy to everyone's mutual satisfaction.
I guess I didn't want to investigate further, knowing Wesley from Cold Cave over the years, and frankly, just loving everything he sets his mind to tour and perform with.
And since we had Ceremony in our JBTV studios a few years back, I figured to some extent there'd be some aggression, but nothing I can't handle.
From the balcony watching the show, I get the connection with Wesley and the audience at the front of the stage. When Wesley, dressed in black, including a black baseball cap that shrouded his face, wasn't whirling around the stage or standing on the drum riser, he was kneeling front and center within inches of his audience most of the time. Everyone involved in the sing along and companionship.
This was made more so, because there was no barricades at all for this show.
It was fun to behold, this simple set with simple lighting, and music having to be pushed that much further into the forefront to everyone's satisfaction.
The same holds true with the opening band Ceremony from California.
Although not as relentless as American Nightmare, they still have quite a few songs in their catalog that are in the genre of hardcore, with singer Ross Farrar for the most part swinging his microphone with physical might from his shoulders to the ground with relentless and physical might, over and over and over again.
With Anthony Anzaldo on guitar, Justin Davis on bass, Andy Nelson on guitar, and Jake Casarotti on drums, they're are definitely an odd looking bunch, with no one in the band truly playing the part of a rock n' roller, more like a bunch of cab drivers convening in a garage after a shift to work on some songs.
Trust me when I say that's not a bad thing, because these guys are tight and can play. Ross loved the communion with the audience, equal to Wesley and American Nightmare.
Have to say both bands brought the heavy, with plenty of angst, and yet, there's some solid songwriting chops in the songs for both bands.
Kind of unique having this show at Thalia Hall as well. Nice to know the venue can hold up and take a pummeling from the relentless mosh pits from show beginning to show's end.