Introduction/Eulogy Part 1
Back in August, modern grindcore allstars Trap Them announced that they were going to play three shows. The original poster for this “tour” showed nothing but tour dates and the words “Trap Them,” “2002-2017,” and “Final Shows.” They never made a post explaining why they were breaking up, and I was beyond bummed when I heard the news. Trap Them is one of my absolute favorite bands. Darker Handcraft is easily in my top twenty LPs of the decade so far, and I am a huge fan of their other material as well, including this year's Crown Feral. On top of that, these guys put on one of the best live performances I’ve ever seen. I saw them back in 2015 in the now-defunct Archer with Full of Hell, and it was easily one of my favorite shows in that genre. How insane was that night? I went to congratulate vocalist Ryan McKenney on their performance, and he literally responded, “Thanks, I broke my arm during the show.” The man is as intense as vocalists in extreme music get, as shown in articles like this one. But, all things considered, it’s not hard to see why Trap Them are disbanding. They can’t keep releasing this sort of music forever and performing like they do, so I am happy they are going out in style. Needless to say, when I saw it was hitting Saint Vitus Bar in November, I was excited. I turned twenty-one in September, which means I will no longer have to miss the shows that stop at this legendary space. A few weeks after the announcement, they added a second date at Vitus the night before, at 11:30 p.m., and also announced that Colorado-based sludge/hardcore act Call of the Void was opening. At the last minute, I decided to go to that show as well.
November 10th, 2017: 12:30-01:45AM
Since I was heading to this show from another one in Manhattan, and especially because New York’s mass transit system is really bad at night, I got to this one very late and missed all but the last minute of Call of the Void’s set. Nevertheless, I was pretty stoked that I made it in time for Trap Them. Despite the show being past midnight, it was easily the most crowded I'd ever seen the venue. About fifteen minutes after my arrival, Trap Them began their set with the slow, sludgy “Scars Align,” the last song on Darker Handcraft. This was a nice way to open up their set, as it really set the mood for the night: dark and hellish. The band played intensely, but were not super active on stage. They followed up with the intro track to Crown Feral, “Kindred Dirt,” which picked the pace up and got the crowd ready for “Hellionaries,” which is when the set really kicked off. The crowd was moving to this one, and the band loosened up. The energy didn’t stop: they played the first two tracks on their debut record, which only got the audience more pumped, and although someone kept punching my back during the set, I completely accepted it because I knew what he was feeling.
Trap Them’s set was a mix of pure, fast aggression and dark, gross, sludgy goodness. The drums were absolutely killer. The guitar and bass were super heavy and distorted, giving substance to the band’s dark atmosphere. The vocals were absolutely grotesque and harsh; and of course, nothing could come close to Ryan's stage performance. He didn’t go out of his way to break any bones, but he was all over the place, giving the sort of performance most frontmen wish they could (although he did fall over a few times during the set, so I can tell he was hurting something). They ended the set with the two iconic songs: “Fucking Viva” and “The Facts,” during which the audience got really involved.
All in all, Trap Them’s set is easily one of the best I have witnessed this year despite a massive headache from hopping all over New York City. So I made my way back home as quickly as I could to rest up and prepare for Trap Them’s final show.
November 10th, 2017: 08:00-11:15PM
I was starting to worry about my train arriving on time. There had been a signal problem at one of the stops that actually prevented me from attending a show beforehand, and forced me to take a much longer route to St. Vitus. Luckily, the show didn’t start until 9:00 p.m. I got to catch Call of the Void’s full set, which was a half hour of nice, heavy, and sludgy grindcore. They were absolutely pummeling, from their ear-crushing vocals to the punishing instrumental work. I was pleasantly surprised with their set, although I wish there had been a bit more crowd activity, because nobody seemed to be having as good of a time as they should have been. The night before, I briefly talked to their bassist Alex Pace, and he said they were just stoked to be playing these shows at all. If you’re into what I've described so far, check them out here. You won’t regret it.
But everyone who was there, was there for one reason: Trap Them. From the moment they began setting up, I knew this night was going to blow the last one out of the water. They had a banner up this time, and their own lighting. I was ready to take out all my frustrations with the New York public transit system. They started around 10:00PM, and went until 11:15PM. Their set was more or less the same from the night before, except they switched out “Slumcult and Gather” with “All By the Constant Vulse.” The band and crowd were much more active this night, which was to be expected from a sold out crowd, but man, did it get sweaty. The band sped through their set with twice the intensity and anger if the night before. Ryan was absolutely manic, and during the set, I noticed a gash on top of his eyelid, which just goes to show how fucking hard he was going. I vividly remember getting smacked in the nose with the microphone and not giving a shit.
The pit was insane. During this night's performance of “Hellionaries,” yours truly said “fuck it” and went for a stage dive, and I've gotta say, it was easily the best one yet. I was in the air for a solid 20-25 seconds, and moved from one side of the venue to the next before returning to my spot right after. I partied through the rest of the night, especially through the last two songs. Like the night before, it was “Fucking Viva” and “The Facts,” but the energy of this sold-out show went through the roof. Those songs had more crowd activity then both sets before it combined. People jumping over each other, screaming the words, crowd-surfing, stage-diving, moshing: you name it, it happened. There was truly no better way for Trap Them to end their performances in New York City.
Conclusion/Eulogy Part 2
By the time this is posted, Trap Them will have played their final show ever. Unlike most bands, I don’t anticipate them coming back anytime soon. I’m just really glad that we’ve been fortunate enough to have them at all. In their fifteen years of existence, they pumped out five of the most unforgiving, relentless grindcore LPs you could ever imagine, as well as a handful of incredible EPs. On top of that, each and every show, this band has given it their all, and these last two New York City shows are no exception. There aren't enough nice things I can say about these guys, but I also acknowledge that they are due for retirement. With all that said, I thank you, Trap Them. You’ve been one of the best bands I’ve ever discovered, and have inspired me in many ways. I wish nothing but the best for you four in the future.
- Alex Brown
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