Friday, April 24, 2015

Agnostic Front at the Bowery Electric

Roger Miret
Guitarist Vincent Capuccio, formerly of the Eliminators, renamed himself Vinnie Stigma as he formed hardcore punk Agnostic Front in New York City in 1980. Agnostic Front went through several singers before settling in 1982 with Cuban-born Roger Miret, formerly the bassist of the Psychos. Agnostic Front's debut EP in 1983 and debut album in 1984 put the band in the forefront of New York's fledgling hardcore scene at CBGB's hardcore matinee series. Miret was imprisoned on drug charges for 18 months, during which time the band's popularity faded. Agnostic Front separated in 1992 with a final show at CBGB's. Stigma and Miret did a few reunion shows in 1996 and officially reformed the brand in 1998. Agnostic Front released its 11th studio album, The American Dream Died, on April 4, 2015. Thirty-five years after the band began, the present lineup consists of Miret, Stigma, guitarist Craig Silverman, bassist Mike Gallo and drummer Pokey Mo.

Agnostic Front returned one block north of where CBGB's stood, performing Friday night and Saturday matinee concerts at the Bowery Electric. Consistent with its critical commentaries listing government corruptions, Agnostic Front opened with the "The American Dream Died," with Miret grunting scathing but barely-discernible lyrics about multinational corporations and American imperialism. The song opened with a slow doom-metal introduction but quickly turned into a thrashing punk anthem. Throughout the set, the tempos fluctuated from fast to faster, but the sound was consistent; as Miret paced the small stage and spit lyrics, the band supported with punk in its crudest, most primal form -- crashing drums, pummeling bass and crunching guitar chords. Halfway through the set, the band paused to shoot audience footage for a video for a new song, "Old New York." Finally ending with "Gotta Go," Agnostic Front squeezed 24 songs, old and new, into an hour-long set and proved that old-school New York City hardcore still has some life left.

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