Review - Refused in New York City - One Last Go At Youth

Starting with the announcement that Refused was reforming for Coachella I was skeptical.  For one I thought they would never reform and figured it was all about the money for finally enjoying the fruits of "New Noise" and the constant references to "The Shape of Punk to Come".  As the date neared I stayed away from any video online and only watched the 1998 performance that I witnessed in North Carolina days before their break up.  Watching the tweets, photos and words expressed since Coachella I had  peaked interest to see that maybe, just maybe, this band would live up the hype again and replace those memories of seeing the band tired, burnt out and and ready to head home.

The day arrived and anticipation and available tickets that were so scares were now abundant.  Better for all as those people who were shut out could get in.  As I walked into Terminal 5 there were many familiar faces from the old days at Coney Island High, CBGBs or Continental. It felt like a hardcore show but except there were 5,000 folks with ya. As the first note hit and Refused played, I was completely hooked again.  Not only did the band sound good, it felt good. Plowing through old and their latest release, the audience was there every moment.  Dennis had mentioned his love for hardcore and how their band was a rip off of NY hardcore and now here he was performing in front of all of an audience in NYC.   You could see it in their eyes that they were enjoying this moment.  To top it off they invited Lou from Sick of it All to sing on "Clobbering Time".  More smiles and genuine "Holy shits, we are doing this with Lou!!"  You got the sense they knew the importance and wanted to give it their all.  Not a bad first swing.

The 2nd night was filled with the fans that had bought tickets "first" as Dennis had mentioned and in my eyes and ears, albeit ringing, was true to form again. As a friend leaned over and said, "I'll come the whole week if they want to keep playing each night".  No one wanted it to end, no one wanted to see this band leave the stage. And for some who were patient and lucky got that chance.

Towards the end of the night I received a tweet from a friend.  He said there was a rumor of a secret show in Brooklyn tonight. I didn't believe it at first.  I looked around as Refused was backstage hanging with friends. I leaned into a friend and asked seriously "Is this seriously happening, or what?" At this point, no one had an answer. Then there was a silence and everyone looking at each other for a quick meeting. I heard "Let's do this", then the wheels turned with transportation, directions, etc. I want to stress all I saw on the band's faces were smiles and excitement.  This wasn't a job, this was fucking punk rock and fun. Why not play tonight in Brooklyn? Sure it may have been planned as an idea but what better way to end a two night stand in NYC.

As the group I was with settled up at Terminal 5 and headed out by cab, the unknown creeped in. Did we miss the set? How many people were there? Are we going to even get in?  I will for probably the last time mention that this felt eerily similar to 1998 when I saw them.  I wasn't planning on going and a friend convinced me to stay and go.  The show in NC was in a cafe or something at a college which we subsequently had trouble finding, the sound was horrible but the place was packed.  Fast forward to tonight where the line was down the block, we were on our phones figuring out the location, I didn't know if I was getting in and again the vocals were shit.  To quell my fears quickly, I made it in just as the first notes hit.  I was young again and complete.  Refused then ripped through a short set of hits including your favorites like "New Noise" and "Everlasting" though some documenters that couldn't put their damn phone down for one song reminded me it was 2012 and not 1998.  With that said, it couldn't have felt more real.

Refused may get flack for taking a paycheck but the one thing that makes this different is their passion and heart. You can tell when a band is into it and giving everything for the scene.  Their music was a touchstone that spurred so many bands, sounds and many many covers by nu metal bands but since 1998, that album is still talked about. That is a revolution. "The Shape of Punk to Come" is a record that no Grammy or award could recreate.  Their moment in the sun was taken too soon from us as their set was cut short in Harrisonburg, VA and they soon flew back to Sweden.  We were left with cassingles of "New Noise" with unfinished tour dates.  This music mattered to so many people worldwide and slowly that word got louder and louder. That is what music is about and it's not a bad thing that your jock friend likes Refused or that your little sister does too.  It's about getting your message out there to the masses.  Their lyrics may reflect on angrier times but they still ring true to people and will continue to as more find out about them and how their influence inspired many.

There are times in your life where you see things full circle in life and tonight was one of those moments.  From a basement show to a venue packed to the gills and then finish it where it started at a small venue in Brooklyn for 120 or so folks with a shitty PA and not a care in the world.  Their music brought us there and it will continue to bring us together for years to come.

Thank you Refused.

Soundcheck - "Firestorm" and clips from the set..