I’m sort of a newcomer to hardcore, compared to everyone I know. My boyfriend was wearing an Earth Crisis hoodie to school while I was still wearing light-up Scooby Doo kicks. Even though I know my way around a couple of the classics, it is totally necessary sometimes to just sit back and enjoy everybody else’s nostalgia, which is what I expected of Trial’s most recent visit to SLC.
No Empire (formerly Hellwalker) opened the show with a heavy set of breakdowns and foot-stomping rhythms straight off their new demo. The vocalist, a giant dude with a Madball-style growl, added the extra punch into the mix, getting the audience pumped for Cool Your Jets, famous for their longtime presence in Salt Lake City.
Armed with two new guitarists (members of Hitchhiker), Cool Your Jets has returned to Seventh Dagger Records and their old antics, tossing around dodgeballs during their set. Combining high-tempo bursts with slower jams (perfect for arm-swinging, picking up change and the resonant sound of balls against walls) and throwing in a couple melodic pop-punk sections for good measure, Cool Your Jets is extremely catchy. They even threw in a cover of “Rather Be Dead” by Refused, causing half the room to rush the stage, screaming along.
Utah County natives Despite Despair followed up with a short set consisting mainly of songs from their recent split with Gunner. I’ve seen Despite Despair several times, and I always find myself impressed with the emotion in each performance. The frontman’s words encouraging positivity fit in well with Trial’s longtime message, backed by guitar riffs sometimes rolling in Southern flavor, sometimes tasting more of post-hardcore. I had one complaint about the set, and that was the run of only four songs, knowing that the band is working on a full-length album.
Panic Records newcomer Powerwolves brought the show a militant style of hardcore, muddy and bass-driven. I had to hand it to them for catching the eye of the label, as this tour is their first (ever, seriously), and they didn’t even seem nervous. Sensing that the audience was geared up hard to see the headliner, Powerwolves’ vocalist kept his words short and ran through their set just as fast as the drumbeats. He did, however, ask for a circle pit to open—practically an impossibility in the Salt Lake scene.
Finally, with anticipation mounting, Trial began setting up. The crowd filed back in early, leaving an ominous empty space in the middle of the room for the inevitable mosh pit. The mix of characters was incredible, from kids my age to folks with kids of their own, most likely there for the first time Trial played, in 1995. The band took a couple minutes to sound-check, and then immediately blasted into “Reflection,” quickly finding out that microphones were totally unnecessary. The crowd shouted every single word, some guys climbing up onto the stage and holding singer Greg Bennick by the shoulders, screaming into his face before jumping down. The energy spread throughout the room, even affecting those of us opting to stay on the backside of the ever-expanding mosh pit. Bennick noted at one point that, “Salt Lake City is the only place you see people actually stretching during the fast parts, getting ready for the breakdown.”