If history has proven one thing, Los Angeles has become one of the main epicenters for punk and hardcore music due to the longstanding Sound And Fury festival.
Since 2022, Sound And Fury has laid claim to its new home in the glorious fields of Exposition Park in Downtown Los Angeles for a two-day music festival that showcases the heavy-hitting sounds of the next generation of hardcore — as well as the seasoned veterans that have grinded for decades to lay the foundation for this now-historical musical movement.
Read more: Sound and Fury Festival 2022 spotlights the new face of hardcore, from Anxious to Scowl
It goes without saying that 2022 was a banner year for Sound And Fury, delivering one of the most stacked lineups in recent history with some of the most engaged and frenetic crowds. It also featured several crossover acts such as the more accessible Militarie Gun, Scowl, Koyo, Anxious, and Drain that have not only captivated hardcore masses but have since broken out into the mainstream.
Entering 2023, the question on most people’s minds was how the festival would attempt to follow up the iconic year prior. Thankfully, Sound And Fury, along with co-sponsor, alternative streetwear brand Brain Dead, came prepared to make this year’s iteration just as impactful. Instead of playing it safe and attempting to recreate the same magic from 2022’s bill, Sound And Fury, which took place this past weekend in Los Angeles, opted to defy expectations and skew the festival back towards its heavier and darker roots. Save for a few mellower acts such as Fleshwater and High Vis, Sound And Fury 2023 primarily served as a battleground for the most accomplished spin-kickers and stage divers.
When Saturday rolled around and the festival began its official kick-off, the first of many iconic moments came from rising Long Island, New York, beatdown hardcore group Pain Of Truth. The East Coast band set the grounds ablaze with their blend of down-tuned slam grooves that rivaled even the scorching July sun and resulted in countless circle pits and singalongs. Shortly after, Orange County hardcore-punks Fury took the stage after a lengthy hiatus and offered a lighthearted and engaged set that made every Southern California native proud to claim them as their own.
However, the most memorable moment of the day culminated with the triumphant return of Twitching Tongues, led by the “Gallagher Brothers” of hardcore, Colin and Taylor Young, who offered an almost ceremonial and theatrical performance to make their live debut, after a nearly five-year hiatus, as epic as possible. It was hard not to tear up watching vocalist Colin Young be visibly emotional while singing the band’s classic track “Insane & Inhumane,” which he wrote at the young age of 18.
Following Twitching Tongues set, fans were treated with the greatest surprise of the weekend, an impromptu performance by Bay Area punks Ceremony who played a blistering five-song set that featured only the band’s early and most frantic powerviolence tracks that have been mainly absent from their live sets ever since the group ventured into more post-punk and new wave territory over the last decade. The night ended with a performance from Pennsylvania metalcore staples Cold World, who were undoubtedly the best choice to end the night off with a proverbial bang.
On Sunday, Sound And Fury became more electrified and crowded with eager showgoers since the lineup for the closing day was arguably the most stacked. The first highlight of the day came from Portland-based metalcore revivalists Dying Wish, who added a welcome dose of melody and venom courtesy of frontwoman Emma Boster who can seamlessly alternate between guttural screams to soaring and angelic clean vocals without missing a beat.
Following Dying Wish, and on the polar opposite side of the spectrum, were Sanguisugabogg, the reincarnation of all the best parts of ‘90s death metal through a fresh, modern lens, significantly changing the standard hardcore fare. Sanguisugabogg’s set proved just how much the young Ohio death metalheads want to insert a level of fun and humor into their sets, going as far as to play a game of “Murder Ball” by throwing a football into the crowd and offering free merchandise to whoever was able to hold on to the ball for the duration of the set amidst some of the most visceral mosh pits of the day.
Next up were San Fernando Valley’s finest hardcore act God’s Hate, who made their annual return to the stage, following last year’s unforgettable performance, playing all of their beloved tracks as well as an immaculate rendition of Marauder’s 1995 cult-classic hit “Master Killer” to the delight of everyone in attendance.
With God’s Hate proclaiming to be “number one in violence” in the scene, it was surprising to see that No Pressure would follow them up, who are arguably the most melodic and pop-punk-tinged acts of the lineup. Musical differences aside, No Pressure owned the moment and performed a career-defining set that resulted in the most stage dives and crowd surfings of the day, set to the backdrop of the Los Angeles sunset and the sound of ‘90s melodic punk in the vein of Lifetime and Kid Dynamite.
At last, the night closed with a colossal performance from Baltimore hardcore royalty, Trapped Under Ice, who welcomed back their founding drummer Brendan Yates, who is now best-known as the lead vocalist of the larger-than-life Turnstile. The entire hardcore community showed up for Trapped Under Ice, Even A-list musicians such as Travis Barker (blink-182) and Jesse Rutherford (The Neighbourhood) showed their support, which is another testament to how far the hardcore musical movement has come in recent years.
Sound And Fury 2023 was yet another landmark year that celebrated the talented folks who put it together and the community of showgoers that brought it to life. Sound And Fury offered the perfect balance between unity, controlled chaos, and a healthy dose of danger that can only be found in this community. It is clear that hardcore isn’t going anywhere anytime soon, and Sound And Fury will always be at the center of it all.