Friday, December 27, 2013

H2O at the Gramercy Theatre

Toby Morse said his inspiration was his son Max.
Toby Morse was a roadie for Sick of It All, and would sometimes come on stage and sing with the hardcore punk band during its encores. In 1994 Morse started his own band as a one-song side project, forming H2O in the Lower East Side of Manhattan. The band toured relentlessly and over time recorded six studio albums; the most recent album was 2011's "Don't Forget Your Roots." H2O is Morse on vocals, his brother Todd Morse and Rusty Pistachio on guitars, Adam Blake on bass and Todd Friend on drums.

At the Gramercy Theatre tonight, Morse promised the audience that H2O would release a new album in 2014. In the meantime, the show was jammed for a little more than an hour with songs dating back as far as the band's first album almost 20 years ago. The unique qualities of H2O were evident, in that the band is among the few to play melodic, anthemic punk rock without becoming a kiddie band. H2O tonight was more Rancid than Green Day, for instance. The band played fast and heavy, frequently hammering what almost sounded like crashing metalcore riffs. Morse barked but never growled the lyrics, rallying his listeners with clear messages questioning authority, purpose in life and purpose in music, often giving the audience a chorus it could sing along. Between songs, he praised the earlier hardcore punk rock bands and clubs like CBGB's that opened the path for later bands like H2O, and frequently introduced and praised his wife and pre-adolescent son, Max. Nineteen years into H2O, Morse proved that he is still a sober, tattooed punk rocker and a champion of the disaffected lower class, but he is also now a 43-year-old man with a passionate manifesto for keeping hardcore punk alive. Young Max may be the next punk hero, however; he sangduring the show with his dad and, after the encores, Max stayed on stage and played an extended drum solo.

Visit H2O at