Sunday, May 29, 2016

The Cro-Mags at the Highline Ballroom

John Joseph McGowan
Soon after starting in 1982, the Cro-Mags became one of the reigning stars of the New York hardcore punk scene. Internal disputes splintered and reformed the band several times, and hostilities remain incendiary when any of the principal members are interviewed. The violence peaked in 2012, when founder and former member Harley Flanagan was arrested for slashing two of the current members backstage at Webster Hall before the band was scheduled to perform. The Cro-Mags recorded five albums, the most recent being 2000's Revenge, and the current touring band features no original members. The touring band consists of vocalist John Joseph McGowan, guitarist A.J. Novello, bassist Craig Setari and drummer Maxwell "Mackie" Jayson.

The Cro-Mags controversy continues, but tonight's performance at the Highline Ballroom was above that because it raised funds for a good cause. All proceeds went to assist a three-year-old boy suffering with neurofibramatosis, which causes painful tumors throughout the body. Nevertheless, there was still the problem that the Cro-Mags concept was designed by musicians no longer present, and much of the set was comprised of 1980s songs performed by another four musicians. McGowan has been the public face and voice of the Cro-Mags for most of the band's history, however. In the end, the fans came not to argue the validity of the band but to support the charitable cause, hear the old punk anthems and relive the experience of 1980s thrash punk. McGowan shouted the lyrics, and the band played the music hard and heavy. For now, there is no other Cro-Mags, and these guys performed the score well.