It is a typical Friday evening in Santa Ana, but for fans of the post-hardcore scene, it is bound to be a night to remember. Alternative metal and hardcore bands Quicksand and Glassjaw are making their rounds in a joint tour after each group had been on more than a decade long hiatus.
Both New York-based bands are considered defining members of the post hardcore scene of the late 90s and early 2000s — a genre of music with the intense sounds of hardcore punk, but the greater creative liberty of post-punk or noise rock. After both bands released albums for the first time in over ten years, they announced their worldwide co-headlining tour. One of their stops: the Observatory OC.
The show began at around 7:30 p.m., with Brooklyn-based band Spotlights as the opening act. Band members Mario Quintero on guitar and Sarah Quintero on bass graced the stage with songs from their 2017 album “Seismic.” Most of their sounds fit the anticipated aggressive feel of the night, however there were breaks of lighter, almost melodic songs sprinkled throughout the entirety of their set.
Following Spotlights, Quicksand was “quick” to perform next, with vocalist-guitarist Walter Schreifels, bassist Sergio Vega, and drummer Alan Cage. The band members had an almost goofy presence performing, constantly smiling at the crowd, cracking jokes, and running around the stage. Their music sounded more alternative-like, and felt a lot like the 80s music my Dad raised me with. Their set included a mix of songs from their old and new albums — simultaneously switching feels from that of more ‘classic’ rock to ones that are more hardcore.
The audience had been receptive to both Spotlights and Quicksand, but soon after each set was played, a nearly ten minute break ensued to prepare the stage for Glassjaw. The anticipation felt nearly palpable in the air, and murmurs of the crowd could be heard discussing their excitement to see the band. When the first member stepped on stage, the response was overwhelming — with concert-goers letting out a booming collective roar.
Glassjaw’s set began with the song “Cut and Run” off of the bands new 2017 album “Material Control.” This was followed by one of their more classic songs “Tip Your Bartender” — a headbanger that had audience members screaming lyrics at the top of their lungs. Lead singer Daryl Palumbo delivered an outstanding performance throughout the night, flawlessly alternating between hard-hitting screams and softer heartfelt notes.
The stage’s fog and constantly color-changing lights made every set a sight to remember. The venues intimate setting made all spots “the best in the house,” with nearly every audience member head-banging, moshing, and singing through every minute of the show. The true versatility of punk music — especially the genre of post hardcore — was highlighted in the unique yet unified sounds of each band. And overall, the night was a nuanced experience one could never forget.