Photos by Al Brundage
The regional hardcore scene rallied on the last friday of February to play a benefit show to help the homeless. Local acts The Weight We Carry, Tiredeyes and Sideline were joined by Buffalo’s Disrepair and Syracuse’s West Berlin. The bands all donated their time and talents to raise awareness and collect donations for the homeless in the Rochester community.
This year’s Hardcore for the Homeless was held at the Venue at Pillar. A converted industrial building on Mt Hope, it’s a stone’s throw from the Genesee River. It’s one of a handful of alcohol-free all-ages community spaces in the city. I got there early, and donations of clothes, hygiene products and nonperishable food were already building up by the front door. The minimum suggested donation was $2, but many of us gave more.
I met the event organizer (and guitarist for The Weight We Carry) Paul Wolfsblood in a space where bands were selling merchandise and talking with audience members. He filled me in on the origin of Hardcore for the Homeless
“It’s a void that needs to be filled,” said Wolfsblood. Hardcore for the Homeless started over a decade ago by a handful of local musicians. “Our friend Bud was the driving force… (he) was the first person I heard say ‘be the change you want to see.’ There wasn’t a lot of that back in 2006.”
Bud is no longer with us, but his memory lives on through the altruism he inspired in others. Wolfsblood put the word out about holding Hardcore for the Homeless again this year and five bands, including his own, came forward.
Rochester’s own Tiredeyes were the first to take the stage, which is located on the loading dock for the building. They wasted no time in getting the show off to an energetic start. They dove into a set comprised of the meolodic metalcore songs from their 2016 debut release Visions of Light. The audience members were swept away by their high-powered performance, moving along to the beat.
I caught up with Tiredeyes guitarist Kyle Goldsmith, who told me, “We chose to be a part of this year’s Hardcore for the Homeless to have a good time and raise money for a good cause.”
Buffalo’s Disrepair also wanted to lend their support to help the less fortunate. Although relatively new to the scene, they held their own. Hitting hard and heavy, Disrepair’s music was a shot of adrenaline. They played a full set of originals, although their demo only contains two songs.
I met with the band members after their set, and they filled me in on their plans to get into the recording studio soon to lay down some more tracks. We can expect to see a 7″ vinyl release as well as a split recording with another band in the near future.
By the time we finished talking, the third band had started up. Like Disrepair, West Berlin traveled in from out of town on their own dime to perform without pay for this event. The Syracuse band fed into the energy that had been building up all evening. They are up to some exciting new projects- playing a song so new that it didn’t have a name yet, and inviting everyone to the filming of their music video at Syracuse’s Lost Horizon on March 6. Lead vocalist Jesse Robles paused mid-set to remind us of the reason we gathered:
There are so many things we take for granted. The next time the internet goes out and you have these first world problems, just remember that people are sleeping on a park bench. Sometimes you have it way better than you think you do.”
Unfortunately, I had to leave early. However, I do want to share a little about the two bands who closed out the night. Wolfsblood’s band, The Weight We Carry, is self-dubbed as working-class hardcore. The band’s music is a physical and emotional outlet for the pressures of the daily grind, for both the band members and fans. Their third release, Hard to Exist, came out just weeks before this show.
The finale for the evening was a reunion of the Rochester hardcore band Sideline. The short-lived project produced the album Struggling to Adjust in 2015, and performed at 2015’s Hardcore for the Homeless. However, life got in the way and they dissolved. Some of the members are in other bands now (for example, the lead vocalist, Damon Rotoli, is now the frontman for Tiredeyes). Their announcement about the reunion on Facebook read:
Almost two years ago now we stopped being a band. Since then we’ve talked about doing a final show. We heard they were going to do this awesome show again, so we had to jump on it. Let’s set it off one last time…”
Wolfsblood was grateful that they agreed to be part of Hardcore for the Homeless again. “On top of them donating all of their merch sales to the charity, they played one of their best sets ever,” he said. “Sideline will be missed, and I couldn’t have asked for a better way to close out such a special night.”
Donations from the event went directly to Pillar’s drop-in center for people who are homeless. The program helps by distributing necessities and providing a safe, warm place during the hours when shelters are closed. The generosity of the bands and all of the attendees made a big impact for individuals in need in our community. Hardcore for the Homeless is a testament to the power of the music community to rally for a cause.
Music from the bands is available to stream or purchase on bandcamp:
The Weight We Carry