Every once in a while there is an event which really stands out more than others- not just because of who played and how you had a good time, but the feelings that the show evoked because it touched you right in the heart. This past Saturday, I was witness to one of those shows: a free NYC Hardcore show featuring Madball, Bloodclot, Murphy’s Law, Wisdom in Chains and The Capturers in the middle of Tompkins Square Park right in the heart of Manhattan.

Now as we all know most of the world has been on some form of “lockdown” for the past year. NYC at one point was a hotbed for Covid-19 cases, but I’m not here to talk about that. I’m here to talk about the fact that it is now the Spring of 2021- a rebirth is in the air, a resurgence of life not only from the budding of trees and flowers but also of hope.

The show put on by BnB Productions at Tompkins Square Park was more of a family gathering with music than your typical concert. People from all 5 boroughs of NYC along with the surrounding counties and states were in attendance. I even heard someone say that they drove up from Maryland just for this show. I saw more people hugging each other upon entry and “BRO!!!” than I think I’ve seen in the past 20 years combined. This was a true family reunion.

Though attendance was free, donation tents were set up throughout the concourse raising money for the NYC Fire Fighter Burn Fund. And many gave what they could to this great cause. People of all ages and walks of life were in the park.

Opening the show was the soft, silky and “saxy” sounds of The Capturers. They were a great appetizer for the show to yet to come. Just ease the crowd back into live music, it HAS been a year+ for us. They were a nice addition with the right amount of singing and saxaphone to whet the appetites of the crowd.

Next up was Wisdom in Chains, a 180° turn. Right off the bat they unleashed a furious sound which the crowd was MORE THAN eager to just soak up and return with an amazing amount of energy. The thunderous roar from vocalist Mad Joe Black on the mic awoke the sleeping dragon inside the crowd and the first real mosh pit of the year broke out. It was quite evident that a good portion of the audience was more than familiar with Wisdom In Chains’ music as numerous times MJB put the mic into the crowd and they responded accordingly.

Bloodclot took the stage at 3pm on the dot. John Joseph leading the way on vocals with Tom Capone on guitar as they went through their catalog including a new song from the album they’ve been working on. We were even treated to a Bad Brains tune during their set. All the while people of all ages were flipping off the stage. At one point someone came to the mike to announce that a missing iPhone was found and that the person’s Mother was calling them. Bloodclot’s set was short, but it was powerful, tight and strong.

Murphy’s Law came out to “Welcome Back” the theme to the television theme “Welcome Back Kotter” with vocalist Jimmy Gestapo coming on stage with a new very uncoifed hairdo. And then removed his wig, tossing it into the crowd. The mosh pit began again basically on the very first guitar chord and kids started rushing the stage. And I mean KIDS- young children. All day long there were dozens of small children partaking in stage diving and minimal amounts of crowd surfing. In fact Jimmy Gestapo actually gave his wig, which was thrown back to him onstage, to a youngster who got on stage to dive off. And don’t worry- no one was hurt. Most of the kids were diving right into their parents’ arms. They blazed through their very fun and alcohol laden set- even doing their track “Beer” after Jimmy downed a small bottle of Jagermeister that was given to him by someone in the crowd. A child actually even had a song going with Jimmy at one point- totally made up on the spot, and the crowd ate it up and loved it.

As Madball was preparing to take the stage and DMX’s tune “Party Up (Up In Here) was blasting over the speakers the entire crowd, the band members and everyone standing side stage seemed to be giving respect and honoring their peer who recently passed away. I think the dj could have turned off the track and everyone still would have been able to do the entire rap by themselves. But as soon as that track was cut, the first guitar chord was hit and Madball’s crowd just ERUPTED. It was a maylee of bodies on the stage and off of it. I’ve not seen anything quite like that and had to move myself away from the stage area because before the first song “Lockdown” was over, my head had already been “Wack-A-Mole’d” by about eight people. So I sought a more subdued area to enjoy the show, about 150 ft from the stage. Freddy “Madball” Cricien kept the audience within the firm grip of his hand as he did his microphone- meanwhile stage diving participants launched off of the stage as if it was a human waterfall. The whole time Freddy navigated the stage without issue stalking it like the hardcore luminary that he has become over the past 3 decades. And after 3 decades of this band’s existence, they sounded AMAZINGLY tight. MUCH tighter than many hardcore bands are, every note was on point, and precise. The setlist seemed to perfectly match the angst and ire of the past year featuring such songs as “Set It Off”,  “It’s My Life”, “Across Your Face”, “Get Out” and ending with “Pride (Times are Changing)”.

After the show ended at 5:59pm, just before the 6pm permit curfew, dozens of people grabbed garbage bags which were being handed out to clean up the aftermath of the afternoon. Because as we all know, at family gatherings, you have to clean up after yourself if you want to be invited back. And we ALL want music to be invited back to the table this year.

Review and photos by Bryan Bardes