Saturday, May 14, 2016

American Nightmare at Webster Hall's Grand Ballroom

Wesley Eisold
Wesley Eisold grew up moving between US army bases with his military father. Frequent relocations prevented long-lasting relationships to develop with his peers, so he adopted music as the one stable constant in his life. Born with one hand, however, he was unable to play stringed instruments or drums. In 1998, Eisold formed and became the singer of a hardcore punk band, American Nightmare, in Boston, Massachusetts. The band was embraced by the hardcore punk community, but a similarly named band sued for copyright infringement, and Eisold's group was renamed A.N., then American Nothing, and finally Give Up the Ghost. Give Up the Ghost released two albums in 2001 and 2003, then split in 2004. Eisold relocated to Los Angeles, California, writing poetry and running Heartworm Press, an independent publishing company. Since 2011, he has reassembled American Nightmare annually for a few live performances, although a darkwave synth-pop solo project called Cold Cave seems to be his priority.

Headlining the annual hardcore Black N' Blue Bowl tonight at Webster Hall's Grand Ballroom, American Nightmare opened with "There's a Black Hole in the Shadow of the Pru" from the band's debut album. With hardly room for a breath of air between songs, the quartet crashed through a sonic assault of relentless, lightning-paced escalations, with Eisold shouting anger and anxiety into his microphone as he crouched over the audience by the edge of the stage. The few mid-tempo songs were ear-bleeding rather than heart-warming. The set included a cover of Black Flag's "Depression" and the brutal volatility ended with "Farewell." American Nightmare's hardcore had been as rabid as a mad dog.

Visit American Nightmare at