REFUSED Destroyed New York City Twice In One Night
I'm fortunate enough to have seen some incredible moments in music history, like Meshuggah's first U.S. appearance playing a tiny venue the size of my living room, Guns N' Roses with original line up, Metallica pre-Load, Radiohead at Irving Plaza, In Flames with 20 other people, Iron Maiden playing to 30 people during the blizzard of '96, At The Gates, Carcass, and Carnivore all before and after their breakup/reunions, and of course Michael Bolton duet with Kenny G. just to name a few off the top of my head. One thing missing from my life that I've spoke about at great lengths is how I missed Refused during their U.S. run in the '90s which consisted of tiny venues and basement shows. After nearly 15 years of beating myself up about it, last night I made up for it and then some.
As you probably know, Refused set up a handful of reunion shows strategically worked around their Coachella performance visit. As vocalist Dennis Lyxzén put it, last nights NYC show might have been their last U.S. date on this particular run, but one of the very first shows set up following their reunion announcement, making it a very special gig with people from all over the country in attendance. I have no frame of reference as to whether or not it was better than other shows they've played in their short time here. What I can confirm is that I haven't seen a show so balls out insane since the true 90's NYHC days, when moshing, being drenched from head to toe, getting punched in the face, losing articles of clothing, breaking your glasses, and losing your car keys was simply part of everyone's experience at the show. I managed to do every one of those things at Terminal 5 last night.
Immediately upon exiting Terminal 5 (and after collecting all my personal items from the floor, of course) a few friends told me about a rumor that Refused were heading back to my neighborhood to play a secret show at a tiny but endearing local dive venue called The Acheron. When I arrived, there was already a line down the block and I wondered how everyone would be able to fit inside, but I was walked right in before doors opened to watch the band sound check. They were all smiles and talking about how awesome this is, not something you'd expect from a band who played Coachella then followed it up with a few 3000+ sized shows. It was amazing just to see how humble these guys remain despite their reunion success.
Moments later the doors opened and people flooded into the tiny space, ready and knowing what comes next. Immediately, and I mean immediately upon the first note, the audience of 100 guests erupted into a frenzy of pitting, head walking, stage diving, crowd surfing, and head banging. The band performed for a good 35 mins or so, stopping to take requests, and fix vocal monitors that were thrown around. Unlike their larger shows, the entire band (sans drummer David Sandström) could be found jumping on top of the crowd, surfing back to the stage while finishing off a breakdown. It was truly the '90s experience I've always wanted to see from these guys. After wrapping up the set with "Summerholidy vs Punkroutine", as seen below, the band hung around for a while to meet the fans, enjoy the moment, and sell some t-shirts out of a beaten up box. There was no merch section, no lights, no backing tracks, no stage clothes, just pure raw hardcore from Umea, Sweden and another incredible moment of music history here in NYC.
I should note that both shows were entirely too insane to even think about holding up a phone to take video (not to mention how I'm a person who'd rather live an experience than worry about that sort of shit). I can't even begin to explain how many phones were all over the floor from people trying, but it appears there are a few people who stood out of harms way long enough to catch a song or two, and for that I am grateful to be able to relive it in a calmer setting. Thanks to Nick Palmoritto of Hull for the video above shot from the sound booth, my bro Vince Neilstein of MetalSucks, Rich Hall of 1000Knives and his lovely fiancé Carrie Whitney for making last night an amazing time.