It was an early Saturday evening show as Des Moines hardcore legends Too Pure To Die with special guests Sanction, Queensway and Vatican took the stage at Vaudeville Mews in Des Moines, Iowa. This particular venue was perfect for a good-old knockdown drag-out hardcore show.
In terms of the venue, it was a dark venue that resembled an old 1920’s Prohibition-era speakeasy with a stage that looked like it could house either Vaudeville comedy or a burlesque show. It was so old-school I’ve always wanted to be in there at night when the venue is closed down to see if I could hear any strange noises or hear things that go bump in the night. I got there literally at the tail end of Vatican, which disappointed me, because Vatican already had people moving and going crazy from the four seconds that I saw their set. It was literally the tail end of their set.
After a quick set changeover, Baltimore’s own Queensway took the stage. If you’re looking for love songs and happy peppy songs, this band is clearly not for you. However, if you want a knockdown dragout slobberknocker with Jim Ross yelling “Bah Gawd they have families” after witnessing the mosh pit at Vaudeville Mews, then Queensway is for you. The lead singer was a madman and possessed an innate ability to whip the crowd into a frenzy. I see a lot of big things happening for Queensway in the not too distant future. Their breakdowns are disgusting, their blastbeats break necks, and the lead singer summons demons. Sanction was the next band to take the stage.
Sanction took no prisoners. We at Madness To Creation absolutely love the “Broken In Refraction” album that was released via Pure Noise Records this year and I was curious to see how their songs off of that record would translate live. Even better live. That’s hard for a band to accomplish and Sanction raised the bar to a significantly high level even for the Iowa hardcore legends in Too Pure To Die to achieve. Their sound is a lot like old school Norma Jean(O’God The Aftermath days) meets The Chariot. Their music was a bit more math hardcore, which made the breakdowns a bit more sludgy, yet it really captivated the audience, so much so that there was kung fu fighting and arms flailing at tearing rotator-cuff speed. Iowa hardcore legends Too Pure To Die were the last band to take the stage.
During the set changeover, I talked to a gentleman who was some type of finance manager at Wells Fargo in town. Yet, he loves the hardcore scene. He was sharing with me the history lesson behind Too Pure To Die and Iowa hardcore. I asked him what hardcore music meant to him. He basically said, “if there is a stage you find a way to play”. He explained how hardcore scenes back then would find old basements, people’s houses and even bingo halls and VFW’s to play shows. They would rent it out for cheap and there wouldn’t be a barrier between the band and the audience and it represented unity. He basically said you see all genres doing what hardcore started and that’s bring people together in the most organic way possible. It was a very cool conversation, I wish I would’ve caught his name.
The crowd is amped and the legends in Too Pure To Die took the stage. Immediately, this was who the audience of a few dozen people came to see. Too Pure To Die has some of the sickest breakdowns I’ve heard in this style of music. There was an energy and a force behind this band. What’s especially cool is that the guitarist is a hairstylist by day and plays hardcore music by night. In the 2000’s, this band took the hardcore scene by storm and brought about a scene that I would love to write a documentary about. Iowa had it’s brand of hardcore, after the conversation and this night, I want to learn more about it. There was something “pure” about this set, and that was the audience would become one with the lead vocalist and chant out the songs in one big gang vocal, and then a sick breakdown would ensue.
After tonight, my love for the hardcore scene was rejuvenated. It’s something that it’s simple for me, it’s being who you are, being one with the audience and with the band, and getting your aggression out. At the end of the day, those in the hardcore scene in Iowa are everyday people that you talk to, but getting in a packed room the aggression goes full gear. Thank you to Vaudeville Mews and Too Pure To Die for putting on this night!
Fans can find TOO PURE TO DIE at the following locations:
Their EP entitled “Only The True Remain” is out now!