Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Live Review - Hot Water Music @ Gramercy Theater

Eight years ago as the screamo/emo scene was at it's peak, many bands were unfairly lumped into the whole charade of the next wave of popular punk. Many of those bands that were placed in that category were far from what the scene stood for or was about, yet, because they shared fans with other bands that were spearheading the trend, they were placed within the catagory. Just as whiny kids were raiding the airways, Gainsville, Florida's Hot Water Music went on hiatus. The band, who had many fans from the screamo/emo scene, were never placed in that category, and rightfully so, however, just as things heated up for their peers, they went away. Hot Water Music are a band truly unique to their craft - they are punk, post-hardcore, thrash, rock, rockabilly, they are really anything they want to be. Now, eight years later, while most of the bands that were "Flash in the pan" and struck big have now faded away as Hot Water Music return and are back and better than ever.

Having just released what could be their greatest work, Exister, the band played two back-to-back sold-out gigs at New York's Gramercy Theater. In the second of the sold-out gigs, the band fired on all cylinders from the get-go. As if they just exploded out of a cannon, Hot Water Music officially made their comeback mark on New York City. With singer Chuck Ragan, who was last in the city in March headlining the Revival Tour, screamed his lungs out in the mic, all anyone could think of was, "How is he doing this two nights in a row?" Ragan, who we have spoken with in the past, is a very humble and genuine man, but once he gets into his persona on stage with this band, he is a monster. He and I joked after the show, that he was Dr. Chuck and Mr. Ragan, unleashing his inner beast. He told me, "These songs I have been playing since I was a kid. So, if I don't rock out to them and get into it, it's like I am not playing, brother." While the band barnstormed through their set, consisting mainly off songs from Exister, one also would have never guessed that this is a band who have not really played much together in a very long time, they sound tight and so in synch with each other, it was as if you were watching a well oiled machine that does nothing but play. Then again, with all the touring that this band has done in their career, this is like riding a bicycle for the band, they never forget. The crowd simply loved every second of it, with pits breaking out all across the floor and security acting like they have never been to a punk gig before, many fans were halted away from the guards. The band saw what was happening on stage and Ragan would scream to security, "Easy does it! Easy does it!," while guitarist and singer Chris Wollard would plead for everyone to be safe and take care of each other. The raucousness of the show would not diminish and in fact, only grew. For the hour and fifteen minutes Hot Water Music blasted their fans with their sound, nothing was going to stop anyone from savoring this moment. Bassist Jason Black told me after the gig, "It's been great to be back. The shows have been great!" It seems as if the past is just a memory for Hot Water Music as they look forward to showing their fans what they got. "These guys are my boys," Ragan said to me and the camaraderie they are showing now only will strengthen their future together - again.