The drive from Brooklyn, NY, to Netcong, NJ, was an anticipated one. First off, where the hell is Netcong? A good four of my friends called me up because they ran into the same problem I had: shitty directions. The art of using road maps seems to be a lost one so perhaps it is our own fault. Nevertheless we all made it to the KOC with our minds set on “Destroy!” Oh yeah, and “Annoy!”
I got to the venue for the first of six bands that night which was Dead Tired, a really fast, energetic punk and hardcore band straight out of New Jersey. It was early in the show but they never let up. They’re the perfect example of the awesome and thriving scene that is NJ punk and hardcore right now. Get into it.
Shortly after was a band called Envision from NY. Fairly unknown to the area kids, they stayed pretty consistent throughout their set of the urgent, mid-tempo, melodic hardcore style that seems to be flourishing nowadays. Hey, gotta start somewhere so in that facet I give them respect for coming out and playing.
As the crowd began to fill in, Staring Problem took the floor. The word about these guys has been spreading throughout the NJ area for quite a while now and rightfully so. Swank’s vocals are unmistakable in their high-pitched, glass shattering fashion. And with members of classic NJ bands such as Ensign, Forward To Death and Get Real backing him up, the only problem here would be if you weren’t moshing.
Easily my second favorite part of the show came next and finally the crowd looked as if it was almost at its expected capacity: For Science! If someone asked me for a comparison to make to this band, I would only reply with, “Well, have you ever had a really large amount of fun before?” Their ideal blend of grittiness and pop-punk goodness that the high school kid in all of us can get behind, but in a way that lacks the corniness, caused me to partake in the sing-alongs and bask in my youth to the fullest extent. I finally broke a sweat.
And if there was any band to break the flow it would have to be NJ’s only, and everyone’s favorite “Micha” cover band, The Banner. Yeah they said they retired it a month ago but who’s counting? Anyway, they put together a satisfying set list judging by everyone’s reaction. Opening with “Devilhawks” seemed to be the appropriate and long-missed opener. Some new songs off of Frailty even made their way into the show. The new songs sounded as fast, heavy and dirty as a bunch of sweaty dudes in mosh-gear could hope for. Aside from the couple scuffles that occurred during the set, a good time was had by all.
After The Banner, the anxiousness and anticipation for Modern Life Is War to go right into that first chord was overwhelming and could be felt in the room by all. I, too, was consumed in my eager ways to go out of my skull in just a few minutes. The floor of the Netcong KOC created the level plane of crowd and band setting the stage, or lack thereof, for anything that could happen in a small place filled with 250+ people.
Immediately, just as the first song began, something that could only make a real Modern Life Is War show happen, a collective lyrical uproar in a sea of people filled the room in a deafening fashion while bodies swayed back and forth, hanging on to each other packed in like hundreds of pounds of fresh ground. Not even through the first song yet, the sight of blood already dripping down singer Jeff Eaton’s face, probably from a Chuck to the head, proved that these Jersey kids were going to make every second of this set count. Even without the stage, the contest to see who could stay atop everyone’s head and crawl to the mic never let up the whole night.
“Fakes Like You,” and “Young Man Blues” were among a couple of the songs the band rarely played the last few years and everyone went off (the latter of which I, myself, was fervently awaiting). I think everyone felt the most appreciation when Jeff said “NJ was the first place we played out of our hometown, a long way from home, where everyone knew the words.” It was a real special moment.
On April 7, 2008 at the Netcong, NJ KOC, the punx were upped, blood was shed, a few hundred kids turned into a sea of roaring and waving madness, and the utmost gratitude was shown from band and crowd alike in a way so bittersweet that it felt like this was the exact kind of closure needed. They will be sorely missed and I’m off to Iowa.