Another Annual Success for Hardcore for the Homeless at the Bug Jar

>> On Saturday, February 16th, the Bug Jar hosted the annual Hardcore for the Homeless event which features a showcase of local heavier bands in which all of the proceeds made from the event go to the homeless community. The event has a long history in the Rochester community beginning in 2005, but eventually lost traction over the years. Homelessness has continued to become a major issue within Rochester and according to 835 people experience homelessness on any given night in Monroe County and almost 25% of those estimated numbers are children. In 2014, after Mayor Lovely Warren unexpectedly closed an encampment of homeless shelters in downtown Rochester with bulldozers, vocalist of local hardcore outfit The Weight We Cary, Paul Cerquone, decided to take action, “It was devastating. When I saw that I decided I really wanted to do something to help. With some help from a few friends, we rented out The Flying Squirrel Community Center and decided to bring back Hardcore for the Homeless. I’ve been doing it every year since, except one.” The event has been hosted in other Rochester locations such as The Pillar, but in the last two years, the Bug Jar has hosted the event.

The show began with metallic hardcore band, County Kings, kicking off the gig to an impressively already crowded room. County Kings were the only band not hailing from Rochester for the evening (they’re from Sodus, NY), but their energetic set still demanded attention. The band originally linked up with Reps and Kodivk at a Toys for Tots benefit show that took place in Sodus, NY back in December. The mix of metal and hardcore was complimented by hard hitting breakdowns and the last song contained an impressive southern rock riff that was reminiscent of Buffalo legends Every Time I Die. The band recently recorded an EP in Rochester with HQ Audio (Jordan from Reps), so be on the lookout for that.

Next up was local band Treadwater who have been together since 2016. Treadwater has had different lineups since their start, but vocalist and guitar player, Steve Haramis has kept the band going. Despite their bassist being hospitalized the day of the show and having to consequently perform as a two piece they absolutely demolished their set. Their style of music is heavily influenced by early 2000’s metalcore (think Zao or Converge) and lately has been pushing more into “heavier slam and doom territory.” The mix of fast paced beats with slow breakdowns and guttural screams can’t help but to get your head moving. Steve explained to me how local artists have a special opportunity to “motivate local communities” and how the event “is a great example of getting rid of the insulation of a music scene and interfacing our community with a larger one.” The band has a Sunday matinee show coming up with Concrete at Photo City Improv on March 3rd and they’ll be heading back to Watchman Studios in Lockport, NY to record another single. Keep your eyes peeled on Treadwater as their diverse sound continues to expand and conquer new musical territories.

By the time Kodivk took the stage the room was difficult to enter which is always the sign of a great turnout at the Bug Jar. Kodivk immediately brought the room to another level of hype as bodies flew back and forth and people jumped up to grab the microphone from vocalist Jason LaManna’s hand. The band has been around since 2017 and added a new drummer and bass player in 2018 which has notably improved their sound and energy. Their self-described “high energy, short sets with a mix of heavy and upbeat energy” completely nailed and they debatably had the best set of the evening in terms of performance and crowd reaction. Jason explained to me how special the event is in not only in its charitable nature, but the bond it forms throughout the music community, “On the outside the show may have looked like a successful charity event, but if you were there you would realize it was not only that, but also a community of friends who came together to be together, enjoy each other’s company, and share some memories.” The current lineup of Kodivk is recording a 5 song EP with Jay Maas (formerly of Defeater) in Boston next month so definitely check that out as he has worked with notable alternative national bands such as Citizen and Counterparts.

Up next was Rochester’s metal/doom/sludge/hardcore outfit Bone Mask who tore the roof off the place with their punishing and relentless sound. The band has been around for approximately two years and released an EP in the summer of 2017. Their vocalist, Alex Jones, who also is the vocalist of the ambient and musically intense local band Druse, explained their influences as “drawn heavily from modern doom/ post-metal bands like Amenra and Isis with a little bit of Neurosis.” Although Druse sounds different, the musical intensity of Bone Mask is as equally, if not more so, heart palpitation inducing. Their set influenced tons of head banging as well as some serious moshing as they fired off an Entombed cover as well as songs from their own discography. The band has been writing a full length over the past year and are going to record it next month. Definitely check that out as it will be an undeniable onslaught of powerful heaviness.

The headliner of the show was Reps who had no issue commanding the rooms attention with their mix of groovy metal and hardcore. Three of the four members (Mike, Jordan, and Steve) played in a pop punk band Storm the Bay which eventually fizzled out, so a new project with a heavier focus began to take shape. Reps played their first show in 2015. Appropriately enough, it was as an opener for Hardcore for the Homeless that year. Reps immediately started doing well for a local band and this show was another example of the successful reaction they always tend to get. The band pushed their way into newer material off their self-titled EP which was self-recorded/mixed/mastered at HQ Audio that was dropped in November with vocalist Colton Bockes mercilessly howling on the first song “The world we know has gone to shit.” The band continued to shuffle through their discography with a lengthy set from songs off 2016’s EP Own Your Mind and their full-length Poisoned Youth released in the same year. When the band kicked into “Courage Has No Color” off their full-length the entire room shouted the lyrics back at them which was one of many truly magical moments throughout the evening. Despite a fight occurring in the middle their set due to the heavy moshing, everyone made peace and didn’t let it spoil the evening. As guitar player Jordan explained to me before the show “the role of the band is put upon the people who listen to the music. You can be as involved as you want to be. I think when it comes to community bands are an extension of friendship and culture. It brings everyone together.” A perfect summary of what Hardcore for the Homeless and local music scenes are all about. Reps plans to take a different endeavor with their future recordings, dropping a single at a time whenever they feel the track is good enough to be released. The next show they are playing is the United Artistry Live Festival Aril 6th at Anthology so come on out if you want to see the Rochester powerhouse crush it again!

The show turned out to be a great success with around 170 people attending the event and over $1,200 raised (as well as physical donations) for REACH which engages in providing emergency shelters for homeless people in the Rochester area. In a time of seemingly unending political and social chaos it was a special reminder that charitable acts are relatively easy to pull off if everyone can work together. Paul explained to me how “the goal is to make it bigger and better every year” which he and local musicians have fortunately achieved. Hopefully if you’re reading this, we’ll see you again next year! Cheers! <<