There is nothing that says that being in a punk band means you have to start when you are 20 and cease when you are 27, but to a certain degree, the writing is on the wall the moment you start. You may have been bellowing discontent to a crowd of 20-year-olds with your first vinyl, but after the third album is released, an older you will probably still be bellowing that discontent to a crowd of 20-year-olds.
With that in mind, it is completely understandable why bands in the realm live and die so quickly, and those that stick around for decades are few and far between.
February 10th, 2012 @ Showbox at the Market, Seattle
But Gainsville, Florida quartet Hot Water Music are one of the few between. Hot Water Music released Finding the Rhythms in 1995. After eight full-lengths, numerous EPs, and returning from an “indefinite hiatus”, the torchbearers of the post-hardcore/emo wave of the mid-’90s are still going strong. For their tour in support of their latest release, Exister, HWM took out for support two very similar bands in different points in their career: La Dispute and The Menzingers.
When reminiscing about Hot Water Music, most people bring up how they were their favorite band at one point or how no one else spoke closer to home lyrically, etc., etc. For many in the punk community, Hot Water Music proved that you can wear your heart on your sleeve and not sacrifice any points for it. This evening at the Showbox in Seattle, the legions of kids that sang along to their every word 15 years ago have aged and matured likewise, rounding their set out with one of the oldest median age punk crowds you’d see in a while. When “Wayfarer” rang out, the crowd cheered almost louder than the band sang. The mosh pit was active, but not in a stupidly vicious way, and there wasn’t a single crowdsurfer until a teenager finally was able to get on the shoulders of someone else to make his mad dash for the barrier between the crowd and the stage.
HOT WATER MUSIC – EXISTER ALBUM REVIEW
LIVE SHOW REVIEW CONTINUED BELOW
This was all in stark contrast to the spirit of La Dispute‘s angst-ridden, emotionally exhaustive set. For 45 minutes their crowd, mostly made up of the all-ages crew while the Hot Water Music crowd sipped beverages in the back bar, screamed out every word vocalist Jordan Dreyer uttered — as if it were their hand that had written his stories. La Dispute stand in a odd subsection of punk rock and hardcore as well, hanging out with bands like Defeater and Touche Amore as bands that straddle the line of hardcore without falling into the meat-headed trap it sometimes presents. Whereas everyone during Hot Water Music was reliving the past, La Dispute’s crowd was experiencing the present. They shrieked until they lost their voices, piled on top of each other when Dreyer called for it, and screamed like excitable teenagers whenever any band member supposedly made eye contact.
That, in essence, is what it is to go to a punk show as a youth. They are shows that requirement commitment — emotionally and physically. After all, the human body can only take so many missed stage dives or wild accidental (or purposeful) elbows to the lower back and abdomen. For La Dispute, few souls on the floor were content with just standing and nodding along. It was an all or nothing affair. For the Hot Water Music crowd, the energy was still there, but it was more spent trying to recall a younger time in life. But when the moments hit — when anything off of Fuel For the Hate Game or Forever and Counting rang out, the crowd would launch full bore into reliving time in life when everything was much easier. It was fitting when Hot Water Music covered the Bouncing Souls’ “True Believers” for the first song of their encore. The Bouncing Souls are a similar band to Hot Water Music — around longer than anyone would ever expect and adored by all who have ever listened to them. As an anthem of support, everyone sang along, old and, to a certain degree, young alike. For that brief three minutes, decades of difference and experience in life didn’t matter. Everyone was at a punk show, and everyone was having a good time.