The Wrecking Ball 2015: Review + Photo Gallery

Yuck - Photo by Petee Worrell

Yuck – Photo by Petee Worrell

It’s only been a little over a week since Wrecking Ball came in quite like its namesake and made some major waves in the Georgia music festival scene. For a festival in its inaugural year, the crew behind Wrecking Ball pulled no punches in providing a packed lineup that delivered a bit of something for everyone who grew up as a fan of 90’s punk in all of its various fashions, from pop punk to classic hardcore with a bit of indie rock and emo thrown into the mix for good measure as well. Given the lineup, it’s no wonder that such a music festival would take place over 4 stages at Atlanta’s legendary venue, The Masquerade, which also happened to be celebrating a 25th anniversary on the occasion as well. The intimate nature of The Masquerade’s 4 stages: Heaven, Hell, Purgatory (which had been conveniently “moved” outside of the main building) and the Music Park, made for an even more special experience. The proximity of the 4 stages meant that the entire gamut of bands that Wrecking Ball had to offer was no more than a quick two minute walk from each other, a fact that would prove to be very useful.

Day one of Wrecking Ball had me feeling a bit like a kid in a candy shop. Days of pouring over the lineup for the festival had proven to be useless as I was forced to make tough decision after tough decision. Do I catch Brooklyn’s pop-punk rising stars Chumped or instead go for the indie rock stylings of Brick + Mortar? Worse still was the decision between Atlanta’s home town garage/punk rock sirens The Coathangers versus Philly’s indie punk outfit Cayetana. The weekend was full of catching half sets and running around to ensure I could catch as much as humanly possible while still enjoying the sets. For me, these were huge bands, bucket list material even. It’s not every day that one gets to Title Fight, Braid, The Movielife, and The Get Up Kids all in the same evening. For many, myself included, these bands are the foundation of what we may deem our musical interests. It’s hard to describe seeing artists such as Vinnie Caruana and Matt Pryor still shredding and belting out songs as hard as ever after nearly 20 plus years. The enthusiasm wasn’t lost on any of the crowds either. Throughout my first day of Wrecking Ball, it was hard not to find and audience that wasn’t singing along with just about every tune on a setlist. That fact didn’t just apply to powerhouse headliners like Descendents, who were playing their first Atlanta show in 18 years I believe, and Judge as newer acts like Sorority Noise and Old Gray also drew in younger fans to the festival who may have thought that their chances of seeing the previously mentioned headliners slim to none (myself included in that bunch). Needless to say, after concluding my night with a set from Descendents that easily ranks in one of the best performances I’ve seen, I was sold on Wrecking Ball already and couldn’t wait for day two.

The next day of Wrecking Ball was a bit more structured for me. I’d gotten the lay of the land and planned ahead for the bands that I couldn’t miss and it was a good thing I did. Day two found me splitting my time mainly between the Masquerade’s music park and Heaven stage. The music park boasted a wide array of bands from Yuck, who’s self titled debut is easily one of my top ten albums, to Thrice and Desaparecidos culminating with a stellar set from Coheed and Cambria. The shining star of day two, in my eyes at least, was most certainly the line up that Heaven had to offer. Any fan of hardcore would have been hard pressed to be anywhere that day, and the crowd in Heaven was evidence of that. I started my stint in Heaven by catching post-hardcore outfit Make Do and Mend who put on an electrifying set and things only picked up from there. Hometown hardcore veterans, Foundation, took the stage next and easily set the tempo for the rest of the night. From Glassjaw, to Blacklisted, to Heaven’s swansong act and hardcore legends American Nightmare, the frenzy in the room didn’t stop for a minute once the bands started. By the time American Nightmare finished, I, much like everyone else, was covered with sweat, exhausted, and totally satisfied. Luckily, my night was far from over as the capstone of Wrecking Ball for me would be an intimate set in Hell with no other than emo legends Knapsack. There’s not much like standing a few feet from a band you hold as idols, and thanks to Wrecking Ball, I got the chance to yell some of my favorite songs back at Blair Shehan with a roomful of other fans who seemed as ecstatic as myself.

To say that I’m sold on Wrecking Ball is a bit of an understatement. I’ve made my way through a lot of the festival scene in Georgia and Wrecking Ball was easily one of my top experiences so far. It’s nice to see a slightly less often exposed scene in get a bit of limelight in Georgia. Whether you’re preference is to mosh, fingerpoint, circle pit, stage dive, crowd surf, or chest tap while pensively reflecting on songs, all of which I’ve been guilty of at shows at one point in my life, Wrecking Ball is a festival you shouldn’t pass up in the future.