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[live review] Converge @ Middle East

At last night’s CONVERGE show at the Middle East in Cambridge, it was evident the single clenched fist has replaced the double “devil horns” as the new symbol of metal solidarity.

The CQ Presents gig sold out a week in advance, it was obvious that no one decided to stay home, with each attending patron sporting either a dirty Sox hat, a neck tattoo, a neatly trimmed beard, or a combination of the three. The under-21 folks at this all-ages show were unable to leave for air (or a smoke), so things started getting humid and stagnant pretty quickly after the 6pm doors.

By the time opening band Burning Love hit the stage, I wasn’t so much sweating as I was condensating. The Toronto band brought a southern-tinged hardcore punk mix to the evening, boasting fast and solo-laden songs. And apparently most of them were about porn, or so said frontman Chris Colohan in between generous swigs of Chloraseptic throat spray.

Mirroring the chaos in the crowd, Ryan McKinney of this week’s Cellars By Starlight darlings Trap Them somehow managed to smash his own face in with his knees during their set. By the end of Trap Them’s sort-of homecoming performance, frontman McKinney looked like someone beat the shit out of Marty Feldman. I wanted to get a picture of him, but he insisted that if it made it onto the Internet and his wife found out, she would never forgive him.

Following Trap Them was Providence’s Dropdead. Literally every single member of Dropdead looked like a roadie, right down to the Jerry-Garcia-look-alike drummer and dude-with-Bono-sunglasses bassist. The look had me fooled for a while, until they started D-beating and shredding and shrieking like maniacs. Clearly, these roadies knew what they were doing.

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Finally, with the room a sweltering mess of stank and mosh aggression, Converge hit the stage. Touring in anticipation of their new release that comes out in June (they just couldn’t wait to do it!), this was only their third show on the tour, and the band was neither sick nor tired yet, which made conditions ripe for a supreme hardcore beatdown.

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Vocalist Jacob Bannon stopped after every song to personally thank the friends he knew at the show for being there and supporting him, not just through his music, but personally as friends who care about him. And just before everyone started getting choked up, he struck his trademark open arms pose and the band let the angsty wave of mushy hardcore feelings wash over the crowd, which, somewhat ironically, made everyone punch each other in the face.

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Sam Ueda is the Boston Phoenix’s new music intern for the summer. See him at shows and say hello, just don’t buy him a drink because he’s not 21. Instead, pass him a 40oz. out back.

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