God’s Hate’s Live Show Is Some Beautiful Gorilla Shit
Eddie Kingston. The Mad King. The first-ever Chikara Grand Champion. Maybe my favorite professional wrestler in the world? He’s up there, anyway. Eddie Kingston is a born storyteller, and as much as I love watching him beat people up, I love watching him talking about beating people up even more. Kingston talks about being people up with a sincere emotional fervor that might cross over into radical vulnerability. When he talks about beating people up, I believe that beating people up is the absolute most important thing to him. His health, both mental and spiritual, depends on beating people up. He’s at the absolute end of his rope, and the only thing that keeps him going is the drive to beat people up. I find Kingston’s work to be profoundly moving on some level that I can’t readily explain.
Point is: When I walked into the hardcore show and saw Eddie Kingston there, that shit felt different. I was not ready. I probably should’ve been ready. It makes sense that Eddie Kingston was there. The show was headlined by God’s Hate, the truly great band led by Kingston’s fellow AEW wrestler Brody King. Colin Young, God’s Hate’s drummer and lead songwriter, has done the theme music for a bunch of other AEW wrestlers, too. The show was in Brooklyn, and Eddie Kingston is a New York guy. The show was also two days before AEW’s Full Gear pay-per-view came to the Prudential Center in Newark. The All Elite roster was already in town. Kingston’s face was the first one that I saw when I walked in, so I didn’t yet realize that the crowd was absolutely packed with AEW wrestlers, that it might as well have been a company picnic.
I walked into that God’s Hate show fresh from another show. Somehow, I ended up in New York City on a night when two monster shows that were literally happening next door to each other — one headlined by God’s Hate, the other by the once-again-active legends Youth Of Today. Anytime either of those bands play, it’s an event. Here, we had two different events — both happening in deepest Bushwick, both in good-sized rooms that looked like they’d once been brick factory sweatshops. I couldn’t fucking believe it. I had tickets for Youth Of Today before I even found out about God’s Hate. So I went to both shows, trying to time everything right so that I’d see a bunch of different bands that I really liked and so that I’d get to see the vibe difference between these two massive hardcore shows. The difference was this: Eddie Kingston was only going to end up at one of those shows.
Eddie Kingston wears a lot of 2Pac shirts. He talks about DMX and circa-’98 Jay-Z, but he apparently loves Joy Division and AFI, too. He carries himself like the kind of person who would’ve ended up at a Biohazard or Merauder show at least once. Eddie Kingston is a prototypical New York goon poet; it’s what I love about him. And God’s Hate make that real-deal goon music. God’s Hate didn’t have a pro-wrestling connection when they started, but Brody King is now TV-famous for the work he does in one of the few public-facing fields where goon status is a professional asset. That night in Brooklyn, the crowd was full of pro wrestlers dancing like wrestlers — like goons. The non-wrestlers at the show were on that goon shit, too. It was a goon party. Who could ask for more?
God’s Hate opened with “Be Harder.” Does that tell you what you need to know? It’s like Turnstile opening shows with “Holiday,” if Turnstile were viking gorillas. “Be Harder” is the definitive God’s Hate song, the ultimate expression of the band’s whole ethos: “Life is hard. Be harder.” And they played it first. To set the mood. You can see me in plenty of the videos from the God’s Hate show — I’m hard to miss — and you might note that I was not trying to get anywhere near that pit. I’m a big guy, but I’m not built like that. From where I was standing, the pit mostly just looked like a dark blur of violent motion. Later on, I found out that at least some of that violent motion was actual pro wrestlers doing pro wrestling shit on their off-days. Darby Allin and Brody King weren’t trying to stuff each other into body bags, but Darby was still carrying himself in a wild and reckless manner when the TV cameras were off. That part of his character, from what I could see, appears to be true.
Before he was a frontman or a wrestler — before anyone was calling him “Brody King” — Brody King was a Southern California pit legend. There’s a truism in hardcore that the best moshers also make the best lead singers, and that certainly seems to apply in this case. God’s Hate started when Colin Young, already busy with Twitching Tongues, decided that his best friend needed to be the singer of a band, so he set to constructing a band around that best friend. After the band started, Brody started training to become a wrestler. He put in work and made a name for himself, and now he’s on TV. But Brody King still has God’s Hate. God’s Hate is absolutely the right kind of band to showcase a big, tough, violent bellower of a singer, whether or not that singer spends his nights choking people into unconsciousness.
Onstage, God’s Hate are something to witness — six dudes, all at least somewhat big and intimidating, with this absolute fucking brick wall in front, leading a “kill them” chant. I’m the tallest person that anyone has ever seen, but Brody King is big in a different way. He takes up room. He’s a rhinoceros. His whole presence is a spectacle, and it elevates God’s Hate into a different kind of spectacle. Their live show something you should see at least once in your life. The whole front of the room was the moshers’ domain, and anyone within the first four rows was getting crowdkilled. Most of the stagedives weren’t onto anyone. I watched one guy — maybe a wrestler, maybe not — do a flying backflip off the stage and then land on his feet, since there was nobody around to catch him. I watched another guy pick a smaller guy up, take a running start, and then launch that guy, like a javelin, into the people by the side of the pit. It was bedlam. I loved it.
I’m going to be honest: I would probably love God’s Hate even if they sucked. The whole idea is just too much fun: a brutal deep-crunch knuckle-dragging Hatebreed-style hardcore band led by an enormous tatted-up caveman who is also a literal professional wrestler. That shit is up my alley and down my street. But I’m delighted to report that God’s Hate do not suck. They are a machine. Last year, the various extremely busy members of the band had enough pandemic-era free time to make another album, and they were all locked-in enough to make that album into a total wrecking ball. These days, they’re back to being busy, and God’s Hate don’t play many live shows. They save those shows up for big moments, like this summer’s now-historic Sound And Fury fest. (God’s Hate guitarist Martin Stewart, also of Terror, was one of the people who put that festival together.) In part because they’re so infrequent, every God’s Hate show is special. The possibility of witnessing pro-wrestling violence in non-wrestling settings makes them even more special. I got to see that orangutang shit for myself, and I feel tremendously lucky.
At the Youth Of Today show a little further down the block, the vibe was extremely different. Youth Of Today are one of history’s great straight-edge institutions, but the crowd outside at the Brooklyn Monarch courtyard was smoking a gang of weed. There were plenty of vaguely sketchy characters in the Youth Of Today crowd, but they weren’t the kind of sketchy where it feels like you’re suddenly in a 300 battle scene. At least while I was there, the YOT show felt a whole lot more like a punk show. Even in a big venue with room for hundreds of people, there was a real DIY warehouse-show spirit in the air. People moshed, but nobody crowdkilled. When people stagedove, they were generally caught. Just a different scene.
Because of the way I jumped between shows, I missed a lot of bands. I would’ve loved to see Youth Of Today, King Nine, Combust, Internal Bleeding, Living Weapon, but I missed all of them. Hard choices were made, but I regret nothing. New Jersey’s Gel, who played early on that Youth Of Today bill, are fucking awesome. They play with so much swagger, such feverish aggression. They seem to be having a blast — even the bassist who spends the entire set masked up. (I’m not talking about a COVID mask. I’m talking about an “I might go do some crimes” mask. Plenty of those masks at the God’s Hate show, too.) At this point, Gel are online-famous for playing a secret show at a Sonic Drive-In in New Jersey a couple of months ago. But even when they’re early on the bill at a relatively legitimate show with a reunited-legends headliner, Gel still bring that freewheeling guerilla-set wildness. They might blow up, but they won’t go pop.
Austin punks Glue have been inactive for the past few years, but they came back to play the Youth Of Today show. Back when I went to SXSW every year, Glue were a staple of the bridge-show circuit — the punk bands who would do guerrilla outdoor shows at this one bridge at 4AM. (I always wanted to go, but I could never stay up late enough.) For some reason, I had the idea that Glue were an artier punk band, like Destruction Unit or something. No. Glue are ripping, slashing, ultra-rudimentary hardcore punks, a band that would’ve sounded exactly the same if they’d come out in 1983.
The ultimate difference between the Youth Of Today show and the God’s Hate show — these two beautiful things that I got to witness in a single night — might be encapsulated in Glue’s singer. Glue’s singer seems outwardly normal — white guy with short hair, neither big nor small — but he also comes across as the most angry man who has ever lived. He’s like a character that Giovanni Ribisi would play in a crime movie, the criminal who makes the other criminals edgy because he’s always about to explode. This guy stalked back and forth across the stage, his eyes always ablaze, his teeth always gritted, vibrating with rage. Sample stage patter: “This song’s about ARP ARF RUH GRUUUH!” (He didn’t really enunciate.)
Glue’s singer came off like someone who wanted to be normal but who was too angry to function. I’m sure there were plenty of angry people at the God’s Hate show, too, but none of them wanted to be normal. Most of the people in that God’s Hate crowd seemed outwardly comfortable to live that goon life. People like Brody King. People like Eddie Kingston. God bless them.
Chemical Fix – “Erase Me”
The Philly band Chemical Fix put their “Erase Me” lyrics on their Bandcamp, which is the only reason I know what the song is about. They’re singing about wanting to be utterly forgotten: “Write me out of your summer psalms! Cross out my name after I’m gone!” That’s some of the bleakest shit that I can imagine — not just death, but the absence of any and all memory. And yet there’s so much joy in the furious, passionate propulsion of Chemical Fix’s attack. Chemical Fix played that Sonic Drive-Through show with Scowl and Gel back in September. That shit was instantly legendary, and nobody’s going to forget it anytime soon. Chemical Fix might sing about being forgotten, but if that’s what they want, they’re doing a bad job of it. [Stand-alone single, self-released, out now.]
Deadbody – “Joy Of Torture”
The brothers Taylor and Colin Young are both in God’s Hate, and they’re in about a million other bands, too, separately and together. Those bands are all distinct from one another in small ways, but they’re all united because they’re all the hardest, heaviest things on planet fucking Earth. Deadbody, the Young brothers’ latest venture, is a new band, but it’s also another step in these two guys’ continuing story. The whole project is fully realized; that’s why we got a full immaculately recorded album without a thrown-together demo or EP coming out beforehand. The full LP sounds awesome. The florid ominous prog-blues passage on this song just makes the avalanche riff hit even harder when it comes in. It’s the most beautiful kind of brutality. [From The Requiem, out now on Closed Casket Activities.]
En Love – “Thrill Is Gone”
En Love, from Columbus, are one of those bands that got together during the pandemic and then hit the ground running as soon as they were able. “Thrill Is Gone” crams a whole lot of pent-up tension and sudden release into an 84-second berserker bugout. It’s feverish and ugly and sweaty, and it reminds me of the early ’80s and the non-codified version of hardcore when everything just came out as sloppy and unstructured rage-outs. En Love have really locked into a particular kind of sick anhedonia with this one, and it makes me excited to find out what other bad vibes they might be able to capture on record. [Stand-alone single, out now on Delayed Gratification Records.]
FAIM – “Uninhabitable”
For a few years now, Denver’s FAIM have been documenting the feeling of what it’s like to be alive at a time when society feels like it’s failing, when we’re still going around buying groceries and watching prestige-TV streaming shows while complete collapse looms ever closer. On “Uninhabitable,” they’ve written an anthem about that constant anxiety, that looming doom: “And the worst is yet to come! Sooner than you think!” This is bracing, cathartic basement punk, which means it’s its own reward. But honestly, there’s something gratifying about hearing these people screaming about this thing that I’ve been trying not to think about for years. If we’re all condemned, we might as well scream about it together. [From “Uninhabitable” b/w “Hide Behind Your Badge” single, self-released, out now.]
Scalp – “Endless Relapse”
In 2020, the Southern California band Scalp released Domestic Extremity, a debut album of grind-influenced hardcore so ugly and punishing and severe that I couldn’t listen to it more than a couple of times. The first track from Scalp’s follow-up might go even harder than anything on that record, and now I feel like I can’t stop listening to it. That split-second pause right before the breakdown? Motherfucker. Jesus Christ. When that riff comes back in, I feel like I’ve wandered down an abandoned mineshaft and the whole ceiling just fell in on me. [From Black Tar, out 1/20 on Closed Casket Activities.]
Speed – “One Blood We Bleed”
I love a cinematic hardcore video. There’s nothing better. Sydney’s Speed have had a huge breakout year, mostly because their form of swaggering stomp-around hardcore looks so good on film — first in their “Not That Nice” video, then in the footage from what looks like a buckwild-insane Sound And Fury set. “One Blood We Bleed” is a hard song, but the video is even harder — a couple of continuous shots of Speed and friends going off in Los Angeles. Shit’s like Children Of Men with spinkicks instead of explosions. Speed look cool as hell, and they know it. [From The Extermination Volume IV compilation, out 1/27 on Flatspot Records.]
Street Power – “Pay The Price” (Feat. The World)
This might not read as good news, but it feels like we’re about to get a whole lot more ignorant knuckledragger hardcore anthems where some vocals are roared and some are quasi-rapped. As someone who’s old enough to remember Downset, I think that’s fucking tight. Bring it. The Gridiron album is extremely fun, and I need some more of that 7-11 parking lot music. The Boston band Street Power understand exactly what that means. On “Pay The Price,” they get together with hardcore supergroup the World, and Texan rapper Vane makes sense over that animalistic stomp-crunch. But I loved this thing right when the Jerky Boys sample went into the brick-to-your-eyeball riff. Sometimes, you just know. [Stand-alone single, self-released, out now.]
T.S. Warspite – “Slum Landlord”
Marco Abbatiello, singer for the UK band T.S. Warspite, has basically the perfect voice for a British hardcore singer. He’s got a vast guttural baritone bark, and he sounds like a henchman from a Jason Statham movie. Anything that Abbatiello roars, even when it’s not about landlords, comes off like a soccer chant about disemboweling capitalist pigs. But T.S. Warspite’s whole sound is fast and catchy and melodic — a revved-up cinderblock-squat take on the melodic hardcore that came out of California in the ’80s. That combination absolutely rules. It’s probably a bad idea to throw a molotov cocktail while skateboarding, especially if you’ve never successfully pulled off either task, but this song makes me want to give it a shot. [From Stop The Rot, out now on Quality Control HQ.]
Vantage Point – “Slow Fix To A Feeling”
Whoo baby, listen to that bass! Somebody’s been binging on Matt Freeman, practicing that rubbery-fast intricate punk shit! On this song, we get to hear that bass going crazy in the service of stomping, martial, anthemic ’90s-style epic straight-edge singalong music. A song like this is way too big for one singer. A song like this demands an onstage dogpile of at least 15 people, everyone fighting to be heard so hard that nobody actually manages to sing any coherent words into the microphone. And since this is a song about words being insufficient, that chaos would even make thematic sense. I’ve never seen Boston’s Vantage Point live, but I feel like this song is going to kill. [Stand-alone single, out now on Triple B Records.]
Vibora – “Sơn Đoòng”
Vibora come from Spain, and Hang Sơn Đoòng is the name of a gigantic underground cave on the border between Vietnam and Laos. It took me forever to figure out what language Vibora were singing in on “Sơn Đoòng” — a whole lot of Google Translate trial-and-error process before discovering that duh, it’s Basque. The song, a fervent explosion of noxious screamo discontent, sounded fucking awesome to me before I had any idea what they were singing about. But what they’re singing about is this: “Because revolution is personal, love is political/ Because everything we’ve been taught is a lie/ So what so what so what so what?” I felt that shit before I could understand it, and I feel it even more now. [From Vibora/Crossed split EP Pena, self-released, out now.]