All Pigs Must Die led an onslaught of hardcore and crust on Friday, February 23 as they took over Soda Bar for the evening. It was an impressive line-up on the whole – one of those shows where you walk away in a near state of bliss because everything fit together so perfect. The atmosphere throughout the evening was electric. Soda Bar’s design certainly helped in creating this atmosphere, providing ample room for a pit to form while still retaining a sense of intimacy. I can’t imagine a show feeling this chaotic and primal in a concert venue with stage upon high, band safeguarded from the crowd by metal barriers. Soda Bar felt more like a living room, with the dividing line between the performers and the crowd in constant negotiation and re-negotiation.
This show came in towards the end of All Pigs Must Die’s west coast tour with Baptists – if the performers were exhausted from their touring, they didn’t show it. The opening act was sourced locally, a 4-piece hardcore act from Tijuana, appropriately named Bonebreaker. Even playing alongside such heavyweights as All Pigs Must Die and Baptists, Bonebreaker strike me as a stellar addition to the line-up. They brought a diverse array of tempos and rhythms to the mix, eliciting a sense of unpredictability and anticipation while keeping the intensity on high. The fact that they managed these tempo shifts with such precision is all the more impressive and surprising considering their guitarist was a fill-in.
Vancouver’s Baptists took to the stage next, making their way to San Diego from the northern border. Many of their tracks came from their 2014 release, Bloodmines, but they also tantalized us with excerpts from their upcoming album, Beacon of Faith. If their performance was anything to go by, you can expect this release to be crushingly heavy and full of frantic drive. Baptists immediately struck me for their comfort on the stage, but in almost an instant this switched to an attitude of unbridled intensity. Not only was the crowd spilling into the stage, but the frontman, Andrew Drury, spilled into the crowd – crowdsourcing screams and breaking down any last vestige of a fourth wall. In short, I found myself incredibly impressed with Baptists. It’s one thing to play music that is loud, fast, and chaotic, and another thing entirely to produce a performance that exudes energy in every moment. Even in those rare moments of respite, Baptists had me hooked, waiting for more.
All Pigs Must Die closed off the night’s festivities, stepping onto the stage on the back of a buzzing atmosphere. A diversity of tempo and intensity was something that shone throughout the night, but this was especially prominent in All Pigs Must Die’s performance. Far from abusing d-beats and relentless guitar shredding, All Pigs Must Die proved that they know how to build a climax. Their set spanned tracks from God is War to Hostage Animal, leading to an impressively long-lasting set time. Frankly, I didn’t know they had that many songs, but I was hardly complaining. Devastating breakdowns in tracks like Blood Wet Teeth and Slave Morality marked highlights of the show for me, in proving just how heavy All Pigs Must Die are capable of playing when they let their crust heritage manifest.
If Baptists emerged my favorite, it was by a slim margin. The standard was exceptional from start to finish. If it was less exceptional, perhaps my neck would have been in slightly better shape following day.