18 Aug 2022
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Antagonist A.D. - Gig Review: Antagonist A.D. @ Galatos, Auckland - 30/07/2022

31 Jul 2022 // A review by Kev Rowland

Once more into the breach dear friends, as I made my way into the city for the third night in a row. I knew this was going to be the most dramatic gig of the week and was one I had been looking forward to for months. It was also my first time at Galatos for years so was interested to see if it had changed at all (it hadn’t). Looking at the run times before I got in the car, I was intrigued to see a fourth band on the bill, as I had only expected three, so sent a quick message to Drop Off Point to get some details as the Hamilton band were new to me. 

I caught up with guitarist Bones outside the venue and we were chatting when I saw photographer extraordinaire Ginny Cocks and her amazing fiancé Steve Shyu, so we had a catch-up as well before heading inside. It was a sell-out show so I headed for upstairs to get a prime spot and was amazed at just how many band members there were walking around – this was a gig which had attracted a lot of attention, and many from the Auckland scene had come out to catch some of our iconic bands. 

First up were Drop Off Point who play Madball-influenced New York Hardcore, with the four-piece of Bones (guitar), Mikey (vocals), Fu (drums) and Garreth (bass) getting straight into it with the crowd reacting straightaway. They had a guest come up for opener Voices, with original singer Dave sharing the duties with Mikey, making for a great two-pronged attack. The band may have not been moving a great deal onstage, but they were creating a tremendous energy with their music which was carried straight through to the crowd who reacted in kind. Just For Tonight was heavier with stacks of venom and passion and a real groove, and I was certainly glad I was looking down on the mayhem as opposed to being part of it. They ended the night with a cover of The Vendettas’ Hamtown Smakdown, for which they had two additional singers in Sam and Sean, so Bones and Garreth concentrated on bringing the noise as the three frontmen commanded the front of the stage as they sped it up and spat it out. Bones was telling me they are looking to play a lot more gigs in Auckland as this is where the scene is at present, and I am already looking forward to seeing them again.

Next up was Pale Flag, and this would be the fourth time I had seen them play in the last few months. Given they only had a limited amount of time they were playing the same six songs as I saw them last time, and kicked off with Demise, immediately lifting the tension with their power and impact. They have been playing a great deal recently, even trekking to Melbourne, and with Matt now fully established on bass, they just seem to get better all the time. Tonight, Cody was a revelation at the back, with incredible control and clever use of kick pedals, really driving the band while Matt was solidly locked into guitarists Jack and Liam – Matt is a very technical bassist, with his control of 5-string definitely adding to the overall impact. There is not much which can be said about Jack and Liam as they are locked in, and I had another guitarist tell me he had been stood next to Jack and he was incredibly on point throughout. 

Of course, then at the front of this juggernaut is Isaac, who puts his body and soul into his performance, ensuring he is in control of the wild ride, caught between a band at full pelt who are all throwing themselves around as they are so into the music and a crowd in front of him who are begging for more. Their set went past in a whirlwind of sound and action, and it was only after they had finished that I realised I hadn’t taken a photo to put against their review! Oh well, just shows how much I was into the music. Pale Flag are everywhere now, and there is no excuse for not catching them in the live environment, so if you want your music to be heavy and packed full of energy then this is the band for you. 

The changeover times had looked somewhat optimistic to me (don’t they know that Cody is the worst of all things, a left-handed drummer?) so we were running miles behind schedule, but finally all the lights went out, and it was time for Bleeders. This was my first time seeing this massively important band, and I knew I was not going to be disappointed. Suddenly the band were there, with Angelo riding the wave, and all bets were off as whatever had happened earlier was now being lifted yet again. The band have been through a great deal over the 20 years of their existence, but even Covid could not prevent their return and now here they were whipping the crowd into a frenzy. Angelo was striding the stage, totally in his element, but he wasn’t the only one, and there were times when everyone was at the front, standing in a line demanding that those in front gave them more. 

We were getting jumps, everyone in the groove, and when Angelo held out his microphone for the audience to join in, he created a mini pit as people tried to get to it. The stage looked in chaos as everyone kept pushing themselves and the band to its limits, yet at all times the music was incredibly tight. One thing about Bleeders is that while everything is rooted in hardcore, there is a great deal going on in their music which can be melodic, bring in elements of ska or punk here and there, and at others be a pure anthem singalong. If that was not enough to get the crowd going, original guitarist Hadleigh joined for A Bleeding Heart, and the place just took off. After the gig I texted Angelo and said, “that was sick”, and it was. 

Finally, it was time for metalcore band Antagonist A.D.. Only singer Sam Crocker is still there from the formation all the way back in 2005, but the line-up has been stable for the last four years and there is no doubt these guys meant business from the very first note. This was a full-on assault from the beginning, with the sharp snare providing cut through, and one could immediately tell that here is a band who are used to striding stages around the world as they were just so polished in everything they were doing. Guitarists Matt and Kevin, along with bassist Luke, kept towards the rear of the stage so as not to get in the way of Sam who never stopped moving, doing everything he could to get the crowd riled up. We were getting syncopated headbanging, yet all times the guys were incredibly tight, and it was not too long before Sam was just wearing shorts and a cap as he was generating so much heat on stage. 

By now stage diving had become commonplace, and the pit was something else, although due to everyone wanting to be at the front it was more pushing and shoving than people running at each other as there was just not enough room. This was music with real passion, being delivered by a band on the top of their game. Perhaps it was no surprise that someone got hurt in the melee, but Sam immediately stopped the gig and asked for security and a medic. While that was being dealt with, he gave a heartfelt tribute to Bleeders and the inspiration they were for him and many others to start up their own band and issued a challenge to those in the audience who were enjoying the show to do the same. This was a faultless performance from Antagonist A.D., yet somehow, they kept lifting the bar and when they played an old Evil Priest number the place just went nuts. 

This was a heck of a homecoming for some bands we have not seen in Auckland for quite some time, as well as a great opportunity for others to share a larger stage with a sell-out audience. This really was some show, and I really hope it is not too long before I get to see all these guys again.



Photo Credit: Kev Rowland

 

About Antagonist A.D.

Taking a different approach Antagonist A.D.’s music and message could be described as 'Modern hardcore with old school ethics'. It's raw metal core at its purest and sincerest. Not watered down or compromised in any way. Antagonist A.D. delivers the frantic intensity of hardcore, while utilising a heavier edge.

Lyrically the band speaks of the cancerous nature of western culture, the infectiousness of apathy, its symptoms & consequence, the exploitation of animals across the world, for pleasure, science, fashion or food. With topics ranging from social & political commentary to the brutally honest self-retrospect and analysis. Simply Antagonist A.D.'s words are full of venom, conviction & passion.

Antagonist A.D. has not only toured New Zealand consistently but also Australia, South East Asia including Thailand, Malaysia, Indonesia, Singapore, The Philippines and Japan touring with locals and internationals to name a few. Most Precious Blood (USA), Have Heart (USA), Parkway Drive and Carpathian (AUS).

Visit the muzic.net.nz Profile for Antagonist A.D.

Releases

Haunt Me As I Roam
Year: 2015
Type: Album
Nothing From No One
Year: 2012
Type: Album
Old Bones Make New Blooms
Year: 2011
Type: EP
We Are The Dead
Year: 2008
Type: Album
Distance
Year: 2007
Type: EP
These Cities, Our Graves
Year: 2006
Type: Album

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