This Is Hardcore 2018

The yearly pinnacle in Philadelphia took place this past weekend, and I am so fortunate I got an opportunity to experience the event. From the merch outlet in the lot behind the venue, to the super organized rotation of bands, TIHC definitely delivers when compared to other medium-sized venue “fests” like Worcester’s New England Metal & Hardcore, and until recently before embarrassing itself at Brooklyn Bazaar in 2018, The Black-N-Blue Bowl
     Not only is the ticket price super fair, but the vendors also cater to an economic mindset for those truly skimping on their leisure dollars. Granted I live in Brooklyn, so every time I leave the city I feel like my money is the equivalent of the British Pound, but in comparison with other music events I’ve attended, I definitely feel like I was able to take advantage of the situation and here’s why I got my money’s worth and enjoyed my time at the show.

(the weekend's diving board)

The Show

The beautiful thing about the event is that it is curated by the scene. Fest organizer Joe Mckay is literally Mr. Hardcore. Having fronted legacy hxc outfit Shattered Realm (which played this year!), Joe’s knowledge of the scene is best in class, and his ability to identify up and coming talent to deliver throughout the day is sensational. The fact that this man can organize so many bands and actually get them all to show up and play is incredible. Download 2016 saw Ghost and Architects cancel. Two major bands on a major festival. 
     It isn’t the festival’s fault. But once you start to add so many acts to the roster, it’s inevitable that something will slip. While Friday’s mishap was Rotting Out calling out sick (who didn’t see that coming?), Saturday did not have a single moment that was worth missing with everything scheduled playing as expected. While Friday certainly had its highlights with Ten Yard Fight, Incendiary, and the recently hyped act Vein, the main block of the festival that takes place Saturday and Sunday was truly worth standing on your feet from the minute the doors opened to the moment the microphone hit the floor after the headliner concluded.
     It is worth noting that if are not an aficionado of the hxc community and only know a select group of acts, TIHC will set you straight. Just a quick google of the past ten years of this thing highlight sensational acts at their infancy across countless flyers. While the main event this weekend in my opinion was the resurgence of One King Down, there is no fan of the scene who would walk away from the event feeling disappointed or not discovering a new favorite band.
     This is very different from other music festivals across the globe. While certainly different in size and scale, U.K.’s Download, Brazil’s Rock In Rio, and Columbus, Ohio’s Rock On The Range all clearly rely on scans to guide the way for festival organizers to select artists, while smaller events like New England’s Metal & Hardcore Festival seem to do the same but with a smaller context and sub-genre. 
     TIHC feels like it’s meant to give these young bands a stage and an eager, open minded crowd to welcome them. Numb, a band from Japan made it with a packed house. Safe And Sound, the second band on Saturday at 12:30pm had a packed room. At 11:00pm when One King Down finally hit the stage, the place was just as packed if not MORE than the night before. While some festivals seem to drag on forever, with elongated wait times between sets, building hype for headliners, fans get exhausted. In my experience at these events there isn’t always a presence of excitement acts consistently throughout the day, with plenty of time to just loiter fairgrounds. TIHC seems to rely on the fact that attention spans are minuscule in 2018, and no one should have a shortage of entertainment throughout the day. Sets were fifteen minutes apart, with one thirty minute break to let the room lose steam.


(Saturday's poster)

The Bands

Notable highlights include For The Love Of, who claimed they hadn’t performed together in years, but it honestly could have been forever, and they were superb. Harvest, which should never be overlooked if they’re in your area were sensational. Trail Of Lies brought the intensity as did Year Of The Knife and Candy. All three are set to be the next big thing in the community. Knocked Loose was by far the most exciting to happen all weekend with the biggest turn out of the entire weekend. 
     While Eighteen Visions catered to their own element, with a little stage production and tons of energy, this whole “programming the bass lines” thing instead of actually having someone there finally but the band in the ass, and seemed super intrusive as the band’s sound quality was absolute rubbish for the duration of their entire set. I thought it may have just been my old man ears that have been beaten to death after two days of music (wore ear plugs the whole day! Don’t forget!), but my opinion was definitely confirmed when One King Down came on and sounded fantastic and tore the room a new ass. 
     While Sunday delivered Jesus Piece, Sanction and E Town Concrete, it’s clear that Saturday was the main artery of the entire weekend, and that three days (maybe four if you arrive for the Thursday pre-show) can be a little excessive for young attendees, as well as those who are still eager to two step and mosh after twenty-plus years in the scene. The best tip I have after my time in Philly is to think heavily on which days seem more valuable because once you are in, even if the roster does not look convincing, you will find new bands you love that have support from the community that may have been overlooked, and it will instantly lure you in for the entire duration and you will not want to skip a beat.

(Trail Of Lies from upstairs - it's open to everyone 21+)

The Crowd

It’s worth mentioning that the entire TIHC weekend does not include a barricade. This gives us fans the opportunity to experience the bands in an intimate setting, where crowd participation is super involved and stage diving is, for the most part, encouraged.
     With this in mind, it is crucial to note the risks involved with attending such an event. At such a long runtime, the likelihood of an injury is very probable should you wish to get involved. The venue clears out every time a band finishes so this isn’t the type of fest that needs you to arrive in front of the stage and sit there waiting for the headliner, it still is very much a hardcore show. In fact, the front center of the stage is probably the worst place to stand, and most of the photos of this area will find it completely vacant.
     Just remember your place, mind your surroundings, and keep your health in mind if you have somewhere you need to be the following week. There were certainly a few faces in the crowd that looked like they spent a few rounds in the ring with Mike Tyson, so don’t let the endless energy fool you, people are getting hurt. If you missed your glory days and neglected to get to this by now, it’s probably best to keep it to the outskirts of the sidelines, in the upstairs seated lounge by the bar, or behind the barricade that splits the room in half so that the dancing doesn’t go out into the street. A quick search on YouTube should help you get the right idea and strategize about how you want to spend your time at the festival.

Loose Ends

Getting to the event from Brooklyn was simple, although time consuming. There is a megabus that leaves midtown every hour, and for $13 each way, it will literally drop you off two blocks from the venue. I left my apartment at 7:00am Saturday morning to get in just in time for doors to open at Electric Factory. Driving is possible sure, but for us city folk who’ve ditched the wheels and have gone green long ago, this is by far the best, economical option in comparison to NJ Transit, Amtrak or Zipcar that give you the most value.


Philly is a metro city, so hotels can be $200 a night for a double bed standard with HBO, so Airbnb is definitely the way to go. Plus, the festival starts at 11:00 each day (aside from Friday), so it’s literally just a place to rinse off and recharge before heading back in the next day. I stayed  mile away from the venue and felt safe enough walking home to it at the end of the show, even though it was a little past midnight.


Merch at the festival is super cheap! You’ll find tons of vendors selling mix and match bundles and $100 can go an extremely long way if you don’t plan to spend all of your money on IPAs and food. I got eight solid shirts for <$60, and for those of you who collect scene swag and vinyl, make sure to bring a drawstring bag, and check it at the door for $5. 
     The grub outside is decent and offers a wide variety of food trucks, but the fish tacos weren’t anything to write home about, and the gameday fare of tenders, fries and burgers never attracts me, but was available. Vegan, vegetarian, kosher, you name it, it was there.

Philadelphia In General

Philly is a cool town with a ton of history, but it’s not like New York where everything you Google on Apple Maps is waiting for you to arrive with open arms. I left the fest looking at “cheesesteaks near me” and everything was closed nearby (<2 miles from the venue). Everything early morning weekend is closed when I woke up for a coffee run the next day, everything after 12:00am is closed, and you’d literally need to cab it to South Street to find a decent pub or cheesesteak by the time the show is over, so don’t count on it unless you’re in super entertaining company that’s more restless than a Duracell battery, and wants to keep going after the show is done. I went straight to the room, got in at midnight, and five minutes later I fell asleep, and it was the next morning and already time to go home.

Don’t Sleep On It!

With the scene being so saturated, and so many bands hitting the road independently, there’s a huge competition for our hard earned taxed dollars. Tours now have six or seven bands just for a single major market circuit, and it’s easy to see how someone would struggle to hang out inside an indoor venue for a few days. 
     I know I was challenged with Black-N-Blue Bowl when it would take place in Webster Hall. With no re-entry, I only went one time for one day, and vouched never to return again. Exactly how did festival organizers expect me to stay inside with no food for twelve hours? TIHC gets it right, and leverages the entire lot of the facility, so there’s definitely plenty of wiggle room to escape the dance floor and hang out outside in the shaded and available chairs and tables conveniently located by the food vendors. Also, a little fresh air doesn’t hurt anyone.
     With that being said, this is clearly a homegrown festival, that is still run by the scene, for the scene, that needs as much support from the community as possible. Some of the social media banter coming from the event page was rather adamant about acknowledging weak ticket sales, and every day tickets were still available at the door. 
     While fans seem to arrive from all over, it predominantly seemed to be a east coast affair, with a majority of the people I spoke with being either from Philly or the Tri-State area. With Warped Tour hitting the sack, there’s going to be ample space for summer festivals to step up to the spotlight, but this thing isn’t guaranteed and there’s no telling how long Mckay will want to go through the headache of putting something like this together. Best bet is to just pencil it in for the last week of July 2019 to be safe. Trust me, you will not be disappointed.

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