When you take some of the best hardcore, metal, and hip hop and throw them into Reading, PA over a course of two days? You get The East Coast Tsunami Festival. It was beautiful and chaotic that packs a punch to the mouth and ears that gets stuck in your system for days. That occurred to me when Wu-Tang Clan headlined the Santander Arena on Friday, September 25 and Life Of Agony finished everything off the next night over at The Reverb.
Let me take an opportunity to get the negative out of the way first. And it occurred on day one: sound issues. Never in all my years of attending concerts did I see so many sound issues that kept recurring for EVERY act that played on stage. People paid good, hard earned money to see their idols perform, and for the sound staff over at the Santander Arena should be ashamed of themselves. Countless times, microphones were either turned off or not working, ruining every performance. I give props to all the performers that just continued and not let it get to them. When Body Count was on stage, frontman Ice T was not having it and had to start one of their songs over. It was just obnoxious.
The main headliners were Wu Tang Clan, Mobb Deep, and Body Count. The beautiful thing about day one was the variety of fans of every ethnicity, age, and culture gathered for the same purpose. There was mainly hip hop acts, but there was a few hardcore bands and of course Body Count is a mixture of both. Overall a brilliant bill for that night and the floor / pit area was packed.
Early in the night….the two bands whom I never seen who really stood out to me was Strength For A Reason, because they had the most sound issues than any other band but they handled themselves so well and Wisdom In Chains really made the crowd go bananas. Never seen a band have so much fun on stage yet they kept the atmosphere so brutal. They definitely made a fan out of me that night.I was also really impressed with Gillie The Kid. It was hip hop in it’s finest form. He really knew how to connect with the people on the floor during his performance and his hooks, freestyle, and rhymes were just a blast to behold.
I was absolute ecstatic to finally see Body Count, I felt awful that I missed them during their run last year at Mayhem Festival, so to me, they were the main attraction. I was also fortunate enough to meet lead guitarist Ernie C before the show, who was such a nice person and a pleasure to meet. The thing that’s so fascinating about Body Count is the chemistry and timing they share on stage, now I was not old enough or lucky enough to have seen the original lineup over twenty years ago, but the current lineup of Body Count still give the old songs justice. They kept their setlist faithful by opening with “Necessary Evil” and “Bowels Of The Devil.” Ice T, who isn’t afraid to speak his mind or show his sense of humor really ripped into masculinity and society before going into “Manslaughter.” But the song that stood out the most was the classic and iconic “There Goes The Neighborhood.” Drummer Ill Will was just insane behind the kit. The spirit of Beat Master V lives on through Ill Will because his timing and speed was just off the chain and that song really showcased that. And what better way to end their ten song set with the controversial anthem “Cop Killer.” If Ice T can manage to find more time for Body Count, a headlining tour must happen.
Mobb Deep took the stage after Body Count and delivered a knockout punch to the crowd. Now I am not familiar with Mobb Deep’s catalogue, so I can’t honestly tell you much about their setlist, but I can tell you that it was a stellar performance, and even though it was already past midnight, the crowd was at their peak and Mobb Deep owned the crowd.
Wu-Tang Clan closed out the night and it was one of their better performances that I have seen with them. Each member got their moment on stage, they played a massive set that included not only from the early Wu Tang catalogue like “C.R.E.A.M.” and “Bring The Ruckus” but even some solo material such as Raekwon’s “Criminology”, Ghostface Killah’s “Black Jesus”, and GZA’s “Liquid Swords.” And of course there was plenty of Ol’ Dirty Bastard tributes and highlights during their set. But hands down, the member that stood out the most was Method Man. Meth is clearly a born performer, entertainer, and is one hell of a lyricist. And the crowd was also treated to some freestyles from Masta Killa and GZA. Another big highlight was the group even had a showcase from DJ Mathematics who went bezerk on the turn tables and really wowed the crowd. In conclusion, Wu-Tang clearly is still bringing their A-game and showing no signs of aging. I would expect great things in the near future from the Wu.
The Reverb did an excellent job hosting day two of East Coast Tsunami. It was a really long day and all the bands were clutch, but there was one band that dared to be different. Murphy’s Law totally changed the entire atmosphere of the night. They were bold enough to use humor, go into the crowd, share a few drinks and just be goofy. It was totally refreshing, because all day it was all hardcore bands. Serious hardcore. And as soon as Murphy’s Law hit the stage everything changed. It was also cool to see a saxophonist in a hardcore band. That’s not something you see everyday. Later into the night Doyle hit the stage bringing his spookfest into the club. Also…seeing Doyle made me want to hit the gym. That man is in ridiculous good shape for a man his age. And it was also amusing to see him blowing bubbles from his chewing gum as he is playing his guitar.
After an amazing set from Walls Of Jericho, Madball put on the performance of a lifetime by wiping the floor with everyone. The pits were fierce and the bodies were continuously flying off the stage and into the crowd. Opening with “Demonstrating My Style” they played all the songs you would expect such as “Set It Off” and “Black And Blue.” Freddy Cricien is one hell of a frontman…I honestly don’t know where he gets the energy to perform at such a high level throughout the whole set. As for the band, you can tell they were having fun with each other and with the crowd as well. Madball is living proof that hardcore still lives.
The night closed with a special performance with Life Of Agony, who was the ultimate cherry on the brutal sundae that was East Coast Tsunami Fest. Not disappointing what so ever, most of their set consisted of River Runs Red. Opening with the title track off that album, along with “This Time”, and the always catchy “Method Of Groove.” Mina Caputo proves she’s the ultimate frontwoman for the band, and still sings the songs the way they were meant to be heard. Joey Z was an absolute fiend on the guitar and where ever he and the band went, the crowd responded. This was such a treat to behold to see all four original members tearing it up. It would be crime of the century if don’t play more shows around the east coast. The highlight of the show would have to be “Bad Seed.” Never have I seen so much stage diving going on during a show. I was almost worried for the bands safety, but clearly they loved it. Appropriately, they ended the night with ”Underground.” There is nowhere to go but up for this band. This is why they closed the entire two day festival, Life Of Agony is in a class of their own right now.
To sum this all up, East Coast Tsunami was a wave of brutality that every music lover should experience. What could make it better? Perhaps, a three day festival in the future? Only time will tell.