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Touche Amore, Self Defense Family, Dad Punchers - Hardcore intimacy
Even though Touche Amore has performed countless times in the Netherlands during the past few years, they have never played in a venue in Amsterdam. Supported by Dad Punchers and Self Defense Family they now finally have the opportunity to show Amsterdam what they are worth. And what could be a better place to start conquering Amsterdam than a sold-out Winston, an underground venue located in the epicentre of the Red Light District.

Opening act of the night is Dad Punchers. A strange name considering the fact that what they play resembles music that is played by bands which are usually referred to as ‘twinkle daddies’. What this basically means is that they play accessible punk rock with a solid emo edge. Music that generally appeals to a younger audience, which shows itself in angsty lyrical topics such as accidentally falling in love with your roommate. Generalisations aside though, musically there is nothing wrong with this band and main singer Elliot Babin (who also performs as drummer of Touche Amore) is gifted with a beautifully clear voice that fits perfectly with the emo’ish music. Within their genre this band might not be extremely original, but because this is such an American genre it is music we don’t get to hear often enough in the Netherlands.

Next up is Self Defense Family, a band that consists of 6 people so obviously you would expect this to stand out musically. However, it is the lead singer that claims all the attention. He has a very remarkable and distracting way of singing that sounds more like he is giving a speech, which gets enhanced by his bombastic gestures, rather than that he is trying to stay in key. What is even more painful are his rants in between songs. First he compares Amsterdam with Disneyland and then, after someone calls him out for being unclear, he starts a rant about how we are unclear because we speak Flemish and French, while stubbornly denying that Dutch is ‘a thing’. Ouch! Musically this band is pretty decent, but looking for a new lead singer might not be a bad idea. 

Where the crowd has remained largely static during the last two acts, the moment hardcore/screamo five-piece Touche Amore enters the stage, Winston immediately turns into a moshpit and stagedive bonanza. The band has just released a new album called Is Survived By so a large part of the set consists from these new songs. As frontman Jeremy Bolm notices it is always an exciting moment to see whether people will respond positively to new songs, especially when you are about three thousand miles from home. The band can be very satisfied though, because many kids are already passionately singing along to the new songs. However, it is still songs like ‘Tilde’, ‘Uppers/Downers’, ‘Amends’ and ‘Art Official’ from Parting the Sea Between Brightness and Me that cause the biggest audience reaction. It is nice to see that even though the band is wearing all black, they are very friendly and joyful about what is going on in front of them. Perhaps it helps that it is only the second day of the tour, but Jeremy’s sincere gratefulness about the enthusiastic audience response is heart-warming. What is also nice is that the band is honest about not wanting to play an encore, because everybody knows that as long as they have not played ‘Honest Sleep’, they will come back. Therefore their regular set ended with ‘Honest Sleep’ this evening and as always the pile-up during the sing-a-long part of the song was immense. It is great for a band to be able to end a set with a song that always brings out so much energy in people.

From the first to the last note the band has played their songs with sincere passion and the audience responded with as much enthusiasm as you hope to see during a hardcore show. Jeremy’s voice was as good as it gets and the intimate setting of the venue only increased the feeling of being part of an amazing show. You don’t get many hardcore shows better than this, so let’s hope our Californian buddies will not stay away too long.