Refused Bring the ‘New Noise’ to Brooklyn, NY – Concert Review + Photo Gallery
Refused are one of the few bands in existence who can claim true cult status. The Swedish hardcore group broke up in 1998, only months after releasing their incredibly influential and innovative magnum opus, 'The Shape of Punk to Come.' With no promotion, radio play, or even a band to tour on the material, 'The Shape of Punk to Come' bloomed through word of mouth alone, creating one of the most organic and dedicated fan bases in all of music. Fourteen years after the band's breakup, a whole new generation of fans were given the opportunity to see Refused live in Brooklyn, NY -- but the opportunity would not come with ease.
On Wednesday, July 18, Refused were scheduled to play just off New York City's East River at the Williamsburg Waterfront. My Loudwire colleague and I had been grinding our teeth with feverish anticipation for months, knowing that we were soon to experience one of the most unique concerts of our lives. That day, however, reports of a massive storm hitting NYC, along with flash flood warnings began to come in, but the Williamsburg Waterfront assured fans that the show would go on "rain or shine."
As afternoon bled into evening, heavy rainfall accompanied by strong winds began to descend upon Brooklyn, and only a few hours before Refused were set to take the stage, the show was canceled. Much like the thousands of people who had bought tickets to see the newly reformed Swedish hardcore outfit, we began to feel deadened from the news, but word quickly began to spread about the gig being moved to the tiny Brooklyn venue ClubEuropa.
With Refused originally scheduled to play for thousands, and Europa only able to hold a few hundred people, we knew it would be hell trying to get in, but after scrambling to Club Europa, we found ourselves shoulder-to-shoulder with rabid fans inside the venue, which was quickly turning into a sauna.
Opening act OFF!, fronted by original Black Flag singer Keith Morris, took the stage and blasted the audience with a slew of minute-long hardcore punk songs. As the crowd got more and more into OFF!'s set, the venue began to get so hot and muggy that the collective breath of the audience started to congeal on the ceiling, dripping back down to the floor as the humidity continued to thicken. Although most of the crowd stood still during and after the performance of OFF!, every person in attendance was caked in sweat.
After a bit of a wait, Refused finally took the stage at around 11PM. As drained as the audience had become, when Refused blasted into 'Worms of the Senses / Faculties of the Skull,' the crowd popped with the power of an atomic bomb. With the room peaking at a temperature which felt like about 110 degrees, the audience gave Refused every bit of energy they possessed, which the band returned tenfold.
Throughout the set, vocalist Dennis Lyxzen shared moments from the band's history, stating that although Refused were honored to be able to play in front of thousands, the Club Europa crowd brought a nostalgia trip to when the band would play similar clubs in the '90s. With a nod to the band's impact on music, Lyxzen also said, "This song is about the revolution in rock we used to be, and still are," before kicking into 'Rather Be Dead.'
Lxyzen also spoke to the crowd about his love for punk and hardcore, which was sparked from a cassette tape mix of the Misfits and Cro-Mags that Lxyzen borrowed from a friend. To the crowd's surprise and elation, Cro-Mags vocalist John Joseph was invited onto the stage to sing 'Attitude' by Bad Brains and the Cro-Mags track 'We Gotta Know.'
As Refused powered through classics such as 'Coup d'etat,' 'Summerholidays vs. Punkroutine' and 'Liberation Frequency,' the amount of pure sweat pouring from the band completely covered the stage with a layer of water, causing both band members and stage divers to continually slip and fall. Refused gave the Brooklyn crowd ounce of energy they had, with both Lyxzen and guitarist Jon Brannstrom falling to their knees in exhaustion between songs, dumping bottle after bottle of water over themselves, thickening the onstage swimming pool.
Capping the night off with the legendary track 'New Noise,' Refused delivered a five-star, ten-out-of-ten, on the edge of genius performance last night. As the band made their way offstage and through the crowd, they were met with hugs, thank-yous and pats on the back from the incredibly grateful audience. I even managed to grab a setlist from the stage, which was reduced to nothing more than a soaking wet and illegible clump of ink-stained paper (see the evidence in the photo gallery above).
Earlier in the day, Refused performed 'New Noise' and 'The Shape of Punk to Come' on Late Night with Jimmy Fallon, which aired late last night. Check out the performances in the videos below: