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Live Review: Hatebreed, Crowbar & The Acacia Strain

For many of the folks in Indiana, Sunday is a day for Jeebus praising and rest. For Hardcore fans, a vicious Sunday in the recent past was for beatdowns – both musical and physical, but more on that later.

March Madness was approaching it’s end as the Final Four became a championship two. Once I was done becoming enraged by the death of my bracket, it was time to head to the Deluxe in the basement of Old National Centre and wait for simple riffs, barked vocals, and swinging fists to end the weekend.

I missed openers Twitching Tongues, as did our wonderful Vault photographer Pix Meyers Photography. Some of her photos from the show are included in this writeup, but the full catalogue can be viewed here.

The Acacia Strain

Sadly, my esteemed colleague didn’t quite make it in time for these Massachusetts monsters, and all-blue lighting does not a fine coupling make with my crappy phone. Honestly, these were the guys I was most excited to see, so there was no way during my flailing about against the barricade a remotely useful photo would’ve been taken.

Their album The Dead Walk was a pivotal album for my heavy music listening, and I have followed their career ever since, but their live show has eluded me entirely except around the time that album was released. Since then, only band founder and vocalist Vincent Bennett remains of the lineup I previously saw. His dominant physical presence onstage – including pacing the stage and leaning into the crowd with one of the most hostile visages in the game – make the rest of the band fall into the backdrop anyway. Each member hit their instrument with precision and strength, however, giving their music an absolutely bludgeoning heaviness.

The only song from their most recent album, Grave Bloom, they played was “Bitter Pill.” Otherwise the setlist was a fans dream of classics including “Dr. Doom,” “Holy Walls of the Vatican,” “The Hills Have Eyes,” and my favorite moment of the evening with the dedication of “Whoa! Shut it Down” to the Emerson Theater, which Bennett described as “the shittiest venue in the entire country.”


For the evening’s openers, I was stationed up close on the far-right side of the stage. I decided that since this was my first time seeing Crowbar, I wanted to be in the center and toward the back a little out of the way of the moshpit to have a more balanced listening experience. That turned out to be a great choice when two songs into the set, the exact corner I was previously in turned into an 8-person brawl that required security to leap over the barricade.

Insane fights and pure belligerence became the unfortunate theme of the evening once this set kicked in, but Crowbar played their songs with gusto nonetheless. Being relatively unfamiliar with Crowbar’s back catalogue, I was thinking they were going to be more traditional sludge like their NOLA origins would indicate. Instead, they brought hardcore riffs caked in a layer of muddy sludge, providing them a groove that set them apart from their tour mates.

Guitarist/vocalist/mastermind Kirk Windstein delivered those riffs with joy and worked hard to get the crowd active, even starting a chant for the band himself. He also spoke of ignoring bullshit genre labels and praising everyone in attendance for knowing how to just enjoy heavy music. Their newer track “I Am the Storm,” from The Serpent Only Lies, was absolutely killer. The whole crowd seemed to know exactly where to lose their minds during the closing one-two punch of “Existence is Punishment” and “Like Broken Glass.”



This tour was the 20 Years of Desire & 15 Years Perseverance to celebrate big anniversaries for Hatebreed’s first two albums. They opened with “Empty Promises,” “A Call for Blood” and “Puritan” to set the tone for their old-school blitz.

The crowd was absolutely losing their mind during this stretch, but Jamey Jasta and crew were smart enough to splice in their more modern classics as energies dipped. Right at this juncture, they cut in with the quick stomp of “Tear it Down” and the crowd whipped into a brand new frenzy. They followed suit by playing “To the Threshold,” followed by two more tracks from their earliest days before bringing down the house with the aptly titled “Destroy Everything.”

Toward the end of the set, original guitarist Sean Martin came on stage to play the last four or five songs of the set alongside current lead man Frank Noivnec, as they played off each other’s instruments. I’d also like to give a shoutout to drummer Matt Byrne because the guy was playing with a sucker in his mouth the whole night and I have no clue how he does that.

The music from Hatebreed was appropriately crushing while they absolutely exuded energy and positivity from the stage. Sadly, the same couldn’t be said of the crowd in attendance. This show was marred by endless fighting as a result of assholes crowdkilling and trying to force other people into the pit. Moshing is a ton of a fun…WHEN YOU WANT TO DO IT. Far too many people at this show decided the ways other people were enjoying themselves weren’t good enough.

I saw two people get carried out unconscious and at least seven different fights break out as a direct result of people flailing into bystanders who were off to the sides or in the back away from the open pit area. This happened despite Jasta stopping mid-song TWICE to tell people to stop fighting and acting like jerks.

Jasta said “We thrive on positivity and don’t have time for people who aren’t in this together.” Throughout the show he was repeating the mantra, “If someone falls, pick them up. If someone needs help, help them.” For his attempts to turn it around and being a point of positivity in the show, I thank him.

Indy apparently didn’t agree with the message the band they were so eager to impress was touting and it was pretty disappointing.

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