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I love heading down to the House of Blues in Anaheim, CA. It’s conveniently close to me, and I see a lot of the same familiar faces every time I go. This venue used to exist on Disney property at downtown Disney. This did limit the bands that could play the venue, as they had to be “Disney Approved” or they wouldn’t be allowed to perform. Since moving to the Garden Walk a few years ago, this rule has been lifted, and it feels like the House of Blues will book any band out there. This has opened the venue to having some of the wildest shows come through. The hardcore beasts known as Kublai Khan TX brought their United States Headliner 2024 to the House of Blues to rip the venue a new one. Bringing with them Sunami, Judiciary, and Momentum, this show may not have been allowed to happen at the original location. But its current location was ready to take on the chaos the fans were bringing.

Opening the night was California locals Momentum who got the show started with their song “Overkill.” As soon as those first beat down melodies rang out across the sound system, the crowd turned the House of Blues into a true hardcore show. Treating the place like we were in a basement show, with crowd killer moshers, crowd surfers, and the front row pushing and shoving on the barricade so hard that the security team had to hold it in place. With hardcore shows, the bands tend to not be too flashy, as Momentum's instrumentalists mostly just stood and played their instruments with conviction. It was the lead singer that helped elevate the energy in the crowd. As the tenacity in his voice could be felt in songs like “Forget 2 Die,” ‘7 Lives,” “Indulgence in a Lesser Self,” “Occam’s Razor,” “3AM,” and “Relapse.” Momentum was the perfect gut punch needed to start this chaotic night.

Up next was Judiciary, who mixed their hardcore sound with thrash metal. Starting their night off with “Blood,” guitarist Isreal Garza and Kyle Calfin riff on a Slayer inspired opening to the song. As bassist Jerel Ramirez and drummer Austin Scott-Looney come with in with the low end, they flavor the music with more beat down rhythms. Judiciary mix these two styles to perfection. So much so that the crowd is stomping about in the mosh pit with simultaneously head banging. But its not until vocalist Jake Collinson hits us with his screams that sends the crowd over the edge and surfers over the barricade. This energy was being fueled with songs like “Engulfed,” “Pure Fury,” “Karma’s Knife,” “Paradigm Piercer,” “Social Crusade,” “Temple,” and “The Axis of Equality.” The metal head in me loved the thrash infused beat that Judiciary was able to create, as my neck was sore the next day from headbanging mostly due to these songs.

Coming to the stage was the hardcore punk band known as Sunami. Originally created as a joke band to parody the Bay Area scene in 2019, their music ended up connecting with fans so much that it turned into a more tenured venture. Lead singer Josef Alfonso looks like a well mannered straight laced kid from the ‘burbs. But the power in his death growl and pig noises will send shockwaves through your ears. Guitarist Mike “Dirt” Durrett and bassist Theo Dominguez brought slam back to the House of Blues. While drummer Benny Eissmann, armed with his double kick drum, crafted the rhythm’s that let the crowd to go manic in the pit. Sunami unleashed an onslaught of songs like “Gate Crasher,” “Six,” “Dirty Work,” “No Heart,” “Contempt of Cop,” “Feds Watchin’,” “I Don’t Care,” “Die Slow,” ‘Y.A.B.,” “Y.S.A.B.,” “Step up,” and ending with “Weak Die First.” For what started as a joke band truly turned into one that is helping bring back hardcore and slam to the masses.

You’d think after 3 heavy beat down bands the crowd might be starting to wane on their energy. But they were still screaming and cheering during set change as they were ready to tear the place apart for their headliners. Opening their set with “Theory of Mind,” Kublai Khan TX was more than ready to give us what they have. Guitarist Nolan Ashley was armed with slow chuggy riffs that echo through our ear canals. Bassist Eric English tends to follow the guitar line adding a heavier layer to Ashley’s riffs. Drummer Issac Lamb helps to slow down the beat playing in half time and riding his crash cymbal. The sludgy-ness of the beat just emphasizes when the band speeds the beat back up and truly unleashes the rage in the crowd. Vocalist Matt Honeycutt mentioned early in the set that “We’re not here to reinvent the wheel. We’re hear to spin the pit.” Those words could not ring truer, as with each Kublai Khan TX song it felt like the crowd’s velocity continued to pick up. Though they were the headliner, they only played about a 45 minute set, but in that time they flowed through 17 songs back to back like “Loyal to None,” “Resentment,” “Boomslang,” “Swan Song,” “Low Tech,” “Us & Them,” “The Truest Love,” “No Kin,” “Taipan,” “Self-Destruct,” “True Fear,” “Eyes Up,” “Dynasty,” “The Hammer,” and ending  with “Antpile.”

Once the show had finished and the lights came on, you could finally take in the true chaos that was released upon Anaheim. Fans were soaked in sweat, both their own and others from everyone pressing into each one another. A funk graced the air as the people were finally able to catch their breath. And not a single person walked out of that venue without a smile on their face. We went to war with Momentum, Judiciary, Sunami, and Kublai Khan TX. We trudged through the trenches of the mosh pit and came out the other side. We share a glancing smile and head nod in appreciation of every person who went just through hell with us.


Matt Martinez

Editor - Orange County

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