As I have started to get older, I yearn for bands to play shorter sets, such that I can get home from a show at a more reasonable hour (better for a set to be short and sweet than to drag on). And to go along with this, I sometimes find myself wishing that a show will not have very many opening acts, so things can progress to the headliner more quickly. I need to stop wishing this, as I have discovered so many amazing bands/artists playing as opening acts. Case in point, I recently was introduced to the incredible hardcore band Nine of Swords when they opened for Portrayal of Guilt.
When I went to see Portrayal of Guilt, I assumed the openers would all be aligned somewhere in the metal genre, given the sort of sludgy grindcore they play. However, when Nine of Swords took the stage, none of the band members fit the conventional metal look (tattoos and black t-shirts), with their collegiate sweatshirts and singer Rachel Gordon’s stylish black buttoned jacket. In quick order they were tearing through a ferocious 20 minute set of hardcore punk. I was especially impressed with Gordon’s stamina considering the barrage of visceral, throat-destroying screams that she provided for each song. As their set came to an end, I was thinking that I would not have minded it to be a little longer! After the show, I made sure to look into the band, and have had them on repeat for most of the past month.
|Nine of Swords at Original 13 Ciderworks, Philadelphia, PA, March 3, 2022|
“Wild Strawberries” is probably my favorite track on their most recent album, You will never die. It opens with an extremely catchy guitar line carried by a driving drum beat. While most of Gordon’s vocals for the song consist of enraged screaming, she briefly breaks it up with a segment of clean singing (though one could argue that it verges on simply talking). For a song that is over in well under two minutes, it is filled with distinctive and memorable portions, which is not something you can say from all hardcore punk music.
Lyrically, the song is about a questionable relationship, where Gordon is continually left out to dry:
“Weeknight, you leave me on the fence. No harm done if you tell me no offense. Weekday, it always is the same. Who am I to anticipate change?”
And furthermore, this friend is putting words in her mouth and speaking for her:
“When you insist on speaking on my behalf, what am I supposed to say?”
The song ends with the scathing admonishment:
“Doesn't matter if you didn't mean it, no one gets a gold star for giving a shit.”
Nine of Swords is a reminder to me to get to shows early and give every artist a chance. I am eagerly awaiting what new music they have in store for the future.
Buy Nine of Sword’s music here.