If you grew up in Miami's tight- knit hardcore scene of the late Eighties and early Nineties, you'll remember the sense of unity and fun that permeated those salad days. Our hardcore scene bred incredible bands such as Bird of Ill Omen, Strongarm, Brethren, and Tension. Hell, this whole state was known for its hardcore scene, thanks to Combat Wounded Veteran, Assück, Palatka, Ansojuan .... Then, for some reason, everybody toned down, left town, or just flat out stopped.
In the late Nineties, a band was formed with several people who had played key roles in the scene. Destro came to symbolize the new breed of aggro-hardcore that broke away from the thuggish, painfully boring, and slow breakdowns of the New York hardcore school. They stripped themselves of the bullshit and made a good run that ended with a final show on July 18, 2002 at Kaffe Krystal.
Ariel Arro and Julio Marin formed Glasseater, and Chip Walbert went off to be in as many bands as he could possibly get himself into, each one more uncompromising than the next. One of Chip's bands was All Hell Breaks Loose. Like Destro, it recorded two solid albums, Everyone Loves a Handsome Killer and a self-titled LP, and earned plenty of fan support both locally and nationally, with major metal bands wearing their T-shirts. In other words, All Hell Breaks Loose was poised for underground success akin to Sick of It All or Warzone.
Then, last November 26, drummer Joe Lamadrid was found dead after a performance in Tampa. His cause of death is still unknown, and Hillsborough County authorities are still investigating it. Joe was eighteen years old. Out of respect for their fallen comrade, All Hell Breaks Loose has called it quits.
On January 8, I packed into a car with my brother and an old pal and headed out to the Alley in Allapattah for All Hell Breaks Loose's final performance, a benefit concert to help Joe's family defray funeral costs. A lot of kids drove down from as far as Jacksonville and Gainesville for this show. Even the guys from Surprise Attack Records flew in from Philadelphia.
The show began at around 6:30 p.m., with last-minute fill-ins Low Cool pulling a fifteen-minute set because the scheduled opening act, Dead Lions, was unable to make it. Low Cool was energetic and got the crowd going, but it was a real shame that the singer's microphone wasn't adequately amplified until halfway through the last song.
Thread of Hope performed next and took forever to set up. They played a long set of slow hardcore, with emo-styled vocals and occasional screamo lyrics thrown in for good measure. At this point, the club was packed with a reported 450 paying heads. However, there was no re-entry, and the A/C was not turned on. The Alley smelled like a wet locker room.
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24 Hrs. to Live played a good set. No-frills hardcore! Then Chip's other group, Dance Floor Justice, took the stage on the fourth slot for their first live engagement in two years, delivering blistering hardcore full of humor and serious chops. Immediately after DFJ, the crowd was treated to a five-song set by a reunited Destro. Until The End followed with a nice long set of metal-tinged hardcore for the many kids who were there to see them.
Finally, All Hell Breaks Loose took to the stage. The band's set began with a few words from its members and a moment of silence that was surprisingly observed by the four-hundred-odd, usually unruly kids. This was the pinnacle of hardcore unity.
Right before the final song, Chip addressed the crowd. He thanked Rene Leon from Target Nevada for filling in on drums, and let his emotions carry him: "From the beginning, Joe and I started this band just to play music and have fun. I really miss him."
After thanking the fans and mentioning to the members of Lamadrid's family who were present how much Joe meant to the band and the scene, All Hell Breaks Loose ripped into its final song, "The Centolella Conspiracy," with an energy matched by the hundreds of screaming fans. I couldn't hear the song, though. This time, it wasn't the microphones.