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The Superbowl of Hardcore (aka the BNB Bowl): a 10 Year Retrospective

Last weekend was the tenth incarnation of the Superbowl of Hardcore since Black N’ Blue Productions brought it back in 2005. I can’t believe it’s been ten years since that first gargantuan show, and that I’ve been in attendance every year since. This year was particularly special due to its return to Brooklyn for the first time since 2009, a factor that enhanced the Biohazard set enormously. Below is a short recap of the highlights from each of those ten years that I’ve attended the Superbowl (now officially the BNB Bowl).

2005: The return of the Superbowl in the modern era featured the longest and most impressive lineup (19 bands!) packed into one day. Thanks to the presence of iron-fisted stage manager Warren Lee, this shit actually unbelievably ran on time and everyone played short sets. That year also fully embraced the Superbowl theme and football imagery abounded, from the No Redeeming Social Value halftime show to the Everybody Gets Hurt shirts featuring a football helmet. Speaking of EGH, there were three official flyers for the 2005 Superbowl but I always particularly loved the one below that was drawn by Chris Beee, with an old dude passing a torch to a shaven-headed youngster whose shirt says “THIS IS YOU”.

Superbowl of Hardcore 2005 flyer by Chris Benetos (Chris Beee)

I was starting to list the highlights, from Bulldoze to Sub Zero to Merauder, but pretty much the entire lineup was a highlight. I was a little let down that Skarhead only played 2 or 3 songs but if I remember correctly they were having technical difficulties. The Icepick video shoot where they played Born to Crush You three times in a row would have been a highlight as well, if my feet didn’t hurt so much at that point. I was totally unprepared for how cold/loud it was going to be between bands, but at least they were blasting Next Step Up over the PA. The extensive lineup proved to be too much of a good thing, as we were super wiped out and went home before Sick of It All, which meant we only (!) watched 16 of the 19 bands.

2006: This year the Superbowl was in Manhattan and I headed up with a carload of Pennsylvanians in tow. District 9’s set was crazy, as this was the first time they’d played in years, and the first time I’d ever seen them. There were a lot of early highlights from D9 to Killing Time, and I was so wiped out by mid-show that I would have been ready to get out of there if not for the upcoming Crown of Thornz and Underdog sets.  VOD’s set was interminable for this non-VOD fan. My friend Nate hurt his back during Underdog and I literally remember nothing about the Crown of Thornz set but I must have been really excited at the time, ‘cause going into the show I was most psyched for them and District 9. I almost met my future BFF so we could wear our matching Madball hats together but then he didn’t come in. Overall a long, fun, rainy day but not as long as the year prior.

2007: I remember the 2007 Superbowl fondly as the best year overall, a view shared by many pals and future pals who were in attendance. My three personal high points were Cold Front, Cold as Life and Negative Approach. This was the most metal year overall and featured everyone from local stalwarts Billy Club Sandwich to the return of Darkside NYC. I figuratively ran into Justin Whitemills on the dance floor during Cold Front, and literally ran into and bounced off of James Dijan while moshing to Trip Song. I got to see Cold Front a few months later in Peekskill at a more intimate venue, but it was particularly special to see them for the first time here.

Superbowl of Hardcore 2007 flyer

I think this was the last year before they made the whole second floor VIP-only, but at the 2007 Bowl it was a perfect place to recuperate between bands and watch the madness unfold from an unobstructed angle. I even had my shoes off at the start of Cold as Life’s set ’cause little did I know they were going to play demo era stuff. By the end of the Negative Approach set, I was still not ready to go home. The first song they played over the PA afterwards was The Templars – New York City, perhaps the punk rock answer to Yankee Stadium playing New York, New York immediately after each game. And before the night at Studio B was totally over, I had an opportunity to severely confuse Bob Agars while asking him about War Time Manner song titles and network with another Troy-area dude who ended up mailing me a partial copy of the Stigmata demo lyrics.

2008: While I appreciate some of the later, larger venues where the Superbowl has occurred, I always loved when it was held at Studio B. There’s nothing like coming up Banker Street and seeing the line stretching down the block, a line full of friends from all over the country and world lined up for the premiere event on the hardcore calendar. Or maybe I just don’t get there earlier enough anymore to see this linear marvel in action. Tears of Frustration was the second band in 2008, or a pretty good reason to get there on time. EGH and Setback were slated for fourth and fifth respectively, after longstanding local outfit Inhuman. I love that the more recent Superbowls have appealed to the younger generation by stocking the early lineup with newer out-of-town bands, but there’s nothing like putting old New York bands on early in the day to get the older crowd in there. After a midday lull, Breakdown cranked out a great set, including an onstage appearance by Danial Jones to hand Jeff Perlin a Big Mac. Bulldoze also garnered an enthusiastic response, one which I witnessed from up close after my friend Steve charged through the crowd with me on his back at the beginning of their set.

This was the first year of the day-after show at the Pyramid: a great lineup in its own right, featuring Sub Zero, Maximum Penalty and a plethora of quality openers. I still kick myself for not picking up the free Laws of Gravity demo ‘cause they were great that day, but I did manage to grab Carnivore and Rest in Pieces tapes from the tables downstairs.

2009: I totally forgot until I was reading back through my lineups that this was the first year of the rumored Judge appearance, which drove a lot of people crazy for different reasons, from purists wringing their hands over this transmogrified Judge incarnation (Porcell plus half of Bold’s lineup) to Stefan P. who would no longer be able to say he was the only dude at most gatherings who had actually seen Judge. They only ended up playing like 2 songs but the impending Judge set was the cause for much speculation in the weeks leading up to the Superbowl.

Little did we know at the time that this year would be the last one at Studio B, and the last year that retained the particular atmosphere of the early Bowls. I was particularly psyched about Stigmata, Son of Skam, Killing Time, COT and Terror Zone, with Bulldoze appearing as a special guest during the TZ set (and breaking the unofficial Superbowl rule of no band playing two years consecutively.) And I didn’t even watch Earth Crisis, a fact which my husband ridicules me about to this day (what can I say, I live my life with no regrets.)

This year’s Superbowl was complemented by another day-after show, this time at Southpaw in Brooklyn. The disparate lineup featured everyone from Skam Dust to Bad Seed to one of Red Eyed Devil’s first shows. (Their first was in Bushwick back in April, so perhaps this was the second or third?) Heavy hitters Denied, No Redeeming Social Value and Billy Club Sandwich capped off the day-after lineup, rounding out another full weekend of New York hardcore.

2010: The 2010 Superbowl was the first one at Webster Hall and only featured 12 bands in comparison to the more plentiful early lineups. It was good enough for me though, as it was the first time that I had seen Supertouch since their crazy set at the Snapcase reunion in 2007. I was demoralized that they got such a poor response at the Superbowl by comparison, although it was cool to see them up close and I think they played Climbing Aboard. I don’t remember much about this year besides being happy and proud that Wisdom in Chains and Trapped Under Ice got good reactions, as they were two of my favorite newer bands. Skarhead was so much fun and made up for their short 2005 performance. Webster Hall’s multiple levels were definitely necessary to accommodate the ever-increasing throngs who flock to NYC for the Superbowl.

2011: Maximum Penalty was the highlight for me in 2011. I always loved seeing them after the release of Life & Times which seemed to generate a lot of interest among the younger crowd, and that day’s set was no exception. I was psyched to see Antidote again as well. Despite the appearance of these NYHC stalwarts, I was almost more excited about the after-party show the next day in Clifton NJ, featuring Setback, One 4 One, Terror Zone and Bulldoze. For this occasion I donned a camo minidress since I knew I would be videotaping the TZ set for Steve while he played drums, and not running amok during In Mind.

2012: Everybody Gets Hurt had played the Superbowl twice, in 2005 and 2008, but this year I wore my EGH shirt from the 2005 Bowl in honor of Little Gregg who had passed away the week prior. Highlights included Minus 1 and the Raybeez tribute which was actually really fun. A lot of people were psyched on Outburst with the dude from Backtrack singing, but seeing them at CB’s in 2006 with the real singer was way more special to me personally. We sat all the way up at the top to watch Sheer Terror and I realized that their current lineup had gotten a lot tighter since I first saw that incarnation at Webster Hall in fall 2010.  We broke the fuck out of there a few songs into Rancid, and only stuck around that long to sate Stefan’s curiosity.

2013: 2013 featured the first two-day Superbowl lineup, but I only went Saturday since I had Yankees tickets for Sunday. I was OK with missing Sunday ‘cause the main attractions for me were on Saturday anyway: Altercation and District 9! People told me afterwards that they saw me moshing to District 9, which I don’t even remember doing but I will chalk up to a D9-induced mosh blackout. Altercation was cool as fuck and lived up to all expectations, as did their response. The evening was capped off by a great demo-era Breakdown set and then Judge who were astronomically better than their truncated appearance in 2009.

2014, Saturday: 2014 heralded the return of the Superbowl to Brooklyn at a super cool new venue called The Well. I was glad that the show had returned to car-friendly environs, although no tailgate hangouts occurred as they cut off reentry earlier than was planned. We got there just in time for Darkside NYC and their Icemen – Harsh Truth cover which was dedicated to Carl. It was probably the best version among the three bands I’ve seen cover The Harsh Truth, the others being Danny Diablo and Bracewar, as they did not skimp on the guitar solo. Darkside was followed by Minus 1, where Minus reverted to the Jorge-style Life is Fucking Pain vocal pattern, rather than his own austere original. Stigmata and All Out War both played intense and excellent sets. I never thought I’d marry someone who didn’t like Stigmata, but my husband enjoyed their set and can now understand why I love them so much. Biohazard stole the show with an energetic and Brooklyn-centric set, including the “Ride the Belt Parkway” version of Howard Beach. I couldn’t have asked for a better set list, as it only featured songs from their first two albums, including fucking Victory. I was really fucking psyched for the Hatebreed – Satisfaction set and I heard it was an absolute bloodbath, but we were both so wiped out that we headed out early.

Beyond at the BNB Bowl 2014. Photo by Mike McAuley

Beyond in action. Photo by Mike McAuley

2014, Sunday: I love Caught in a Trap but there was no way I was making it down there that early to see them open on Sunday. They recently released a new album on Dead City Records so I’m sure I’ll have another opportunity to see them on an upcoming local show. Our main goal was to get there in time for Suburban Scum. I’ve been seeing them play since their early NJ shows and has been a pleasure to watch their evolution as a band and see them now on their second Superbowl stage. Scum did not disappoint, and while putting them back to back with Beyond may have seemed like an odd juxtaposition, it appealed to those with discerning taste. It was finally time for Beyond to take the stage, and they were everything I expected besides not playing SEASONS! A Seasons omission is worse than the time I saw Underdog in Long Island and they didn’t play Over the Edge. I had been waiting for months to mosh to that intro but I’ll get over it because they played all the other hits from Vitality to Someday to Ancient Head. Lots of people sung along to Hoax despite “lyrics confidential.” Someday my day will come though, because Beyond announced onstage that they are rereleasing the demo on Rev later this year, so I suspect there may be more shows in the works. We didn’t stick around for the rest of the evening; especially with the concrete floor, the 2 day Superbowl may be too much of a good thing. But it’s amazing how much this show has evolved since Black N’ Blue reinstated it in 2005, and I can’t wait to see what goes down in the next ten years of Superbowl history!

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