Live: Converge And Rorschach Turn (Le) Poisson Rouge Into A Sweaty Basement


Rorschach w/Converge, Indecision, Xaddax
(le) Poisson Rouge
Saturday, May 26

Better than: Anything you would rightly expect of a hardcore show at (le) Poisson Rouge

Cleared of tables and chairs, (le) Poisson Rouge restores some of its character as a basement, ideal staging for a hardcore show even as it remains a basement with bottle service. Saturday, cardinal-metalcore band Converge supported the even more cardinal Rorschach in the red-edged subterranean space and for a moment one’s knowledge of the venue’s fundamental weirdness slipped away.

“We wouldn’t be here without Rorschach,” Converge singer Jacob Bannon said, pacing around the stage with light determination. In the early ’90s Rorscach were among the first bands to mix metal and hardcore in a not-Slayer way; the songs are terse and baldly-arranged but there’s a heaving, doomy swing to it all. People heard this and perceived a new path opening up to them.

On Saturday Rorschach seemed rightly unaffected by their own status as a historical fulcrum; their songs average about two minutes in length, and you can fit most of their discography on one CD, so the band professionally plowed through it, as if it were the most natural thing. The show ended at 10; an hour later they were scheduled to play the Acheron in Williamsburg. “That’ll be our third show today,” singer Charles Maggio said, sweatily composed. “The average age of this band is over 40.”

Hardcore shows transpire at a singular intensity, pitched upward and out. Even between songs, people are being swept up in something like quicksilver. Skin leaps. Nothing is neutral. On Saturday, when the rain and heat had transformed doors and people into uncomfortable expansions of themselves, this was even more urgent. Converge capitalized on this; they seemed to always be moving, tremulous, unsettled. Their songs, all shifting parts, melted finely into each other; I swore that I heard “Axe to Fall” twice. The effect is haunting. Also, in the extremities of hardcore shows, a 45-minute set can seem a small lifetime. Time is negotiated. In the relentlessness of “The Broken Vow,” a small two minutes of the set, I felt as if I’d traveled widely without having moved at all. The band seemed to play in a private dome where time was vacuumed out. Six or seven kids rushed the stage to sing “Last Light” at Jacob Bannon before leaping back into the crowd, and I feel like they are there still, preserved in the heat and flash of the moment.

Critical bias: Hardcore Changed My Life

Overheard: [dull roar]

Random notebook dump: Deep, inky terror.