show review

​Rotting Out @ The Foundry 03/17/15

Lead singer Walter Delgado levels the crowd with his vocals at The Foundry on St. Patrick's Day
(Sanchez 2015)
Lisa Sanchez
​There aren't a lot of bands around that you hear and think "These people are doing it right." Firstly, because everyone thinks they would create the perfect band if they were in charge and, secondly, because anyone who utters those words sounds like an absolute twat. But, I'll do it right now. Rotting Out, a five-piece hardcore band from L.A. are doing it right, from their underground adrenaline-fueled sound, to their vicious, drive-by style performances. I had a chance to meet with vocalist Walter Delgado on March 17 at The Foundry during the band's most recent West/Midwest mini-tour with Expire and Suburban Scum.
           
Rotting Out have known Expire since the band's inception and decided to go on an abbreviated tour specifically with bands they like in order to prepare for their six-week stint on Warped Tour this summer. According to Delgado, the response has been overwhelmingly positive, including sold-out dates and sick performances from bands and crowds alike. Cleveland is one of the last dates for Rotting Out and company, who have been on a grueling two and a half week tour since March 2, playing every single day (sometimes two sets in one day) without any breaks.
           
The L.A. hardcore band has been touring consistently for years, and Delgado admits that the first part of the tour is always the easiest, then homesickness and tensions on the road begin to wear on the members.
"It's harder mentally than physically...we've calmed down a lot [as far as touring] in the last year. We went really hard for about three years, up until last March then we had to catch our breath, tensions were getting high in the van. It's like having four other girlfriends," the singer joked, "We have to compromise consistently." Although tour life comes with its own set of challenges, Delgado said getting to play live makes all the stress worth it: "The second we start playing we remember why. I remember how fun it is. It goes away for those thirty minutes...I remember why I'm here."
           
Rotting Out are a band that thrive in live, energetic environments. If you look up any of their music videos, you'll realize why instantly. The band, especially Delgado, do not shy away from interacting with the crowd, aggressively or otherwise. "We like getting in peoples' faces who don't know what we're about," said Delgado. Rotting Out has previously toured with many different bands, some whom have fans that have never been exposed to the raw nerve that is Rotting Out's style of hardcore and performance.
"Bands like to perform nowadays, things are more of a performance than just energy. We're more like a gun, six rounds, pop-pop-pop-pop we're done. That's it. We like to make it loud, energetic, fierce, and before you know it, it's over."
           
Although their stage presence is literally in-your-face, Delgado revels in the idea that the band could be the bridge that introduces someone to hardcore, no matter what kind of crowd is watching them play. "They think I'm a fuckin' lunatic going off and [I'm] just doing what we do usually. Some people are just caught off guard and don't know how to embrace it, they're like 'Oh my god, what's going on?' and then there's the kids that say 'What is this? Where has this been? I've never seen this before. I want to know what it is and I want more of it.' It's to show those kids, who never had the opportunity to check out something like us a glance at where we're coming from, a glance of shows like these [at the Foundry] not the rooms with barriers, twenty-five dollar tickets and paying for meet and greets."
           
The energy at Rotting Out's shows is always high, which can open up a whole new world of possibilities for some first-time audience member. Delgado continued, "We're not above anybody in the rooms. Especially anybody at our shows. For kids seeing us for the first time, it could go both ways. It could go real sour because I'm encouraging 200-pound kids to jump and dive off monitors and land on these 13 and 14 year old girls. At the same time, I'm encouraging that girl to feel alive for a minute. Like, get up here and jump off, just feel this. It's awesome when people come up to you and say...'you're the first hardcore band I ever listened to.' That was the plan all along. That was the goal, to be the bridge into the hardcore scene for some kid who had no idea or didn't have the option at the time."
           
Along with reaching a future generation of hardcore fans, Delgado also strives to create a sense of understanding and empathy by reaching out and speaking about personal experiences with Rotting Out's music. Many of the singer's lyrics come from his own sometimes violent past. "This is what I've been through," the singer stated about his confrontational lyrics, "Not saying it's right, not saying it's wrong, this is just what I had to do. This is the life I lived." Delgado goes on to explain, "This isn't just another hardcore song where I'm angry and complaining. The last thing I ever wanted to do was to tell people how to live their life. I'm in no place to tell people what's right and wrong. I'm not perfect. I'm still fucking up consistently...I'm not in a band to judge people on their lifestyles."
           
Delgado specifically cites the content of the band's song "Stab" which talks about how the singer had to violently defend himself and his family from his stepfather when he was a teenager. "I had to do violent things in my life. I'm not proud of it, but I can't say I wouldn't do it again because that's all I understood at the time. When you kick a dog, it's going to do two things. It's going to lay down and die or it's going to fight back. I was not going to let myself just die...That's humanity in general. We have animal instincts, especially under stress...and that's all my songs are about...this is a story I've been through." Delgado also finds that his personal narrative can help other people find a voice, "Some people have been in situations, but they feel like no one understands that. But, if you shed light on it, people feel less alone...it sucks that they're not the only one; that these experiences aren't just left to one person...it's so unfortunate."
           
In the end, Delgado uses the harsh truth to make people appreciate and understand their lives for the short time they have them. "People need to hear the harsh realities. People hide away from the truth. People are afraid to accept things like death. But then you get the kid that comes up after the show and says 'that's exactly what I needed to hear.' This is the truth and I'm just trying to get everyone to embrace it all at once. Even if you don't want to hear it. You want to be a decent person, but the people in this world aren't decent. You have to do what you can with what you got. I like spitting truth in people's faces because they need to hear it."
           
Rotting Out excel in chaotic live shows, Delgado explained: "You're encouraging people to get lost in the moment. Kids have lost their teeth, more than once, while seeing our band, different cities, different people. It's ok to get hurt. It's ok to get lost in the moment. To let adrenaline take over. That's what we always wanted to do...it's a positive outlet in kind of a violent manner." Assuring the band's ability to perform live as they see fit doesn't transfer well to every venue, "We love the chaos. We encourage it and try to push it to its limits. Some people just don't get it. They see it as people beating each other up to a soundtrack. This is hardcore. This is punk rock. It's hard, live, and fast and you don't know when this can be taken away."
           
Rotting Out is playing their first Warped Tour this summer and Delgado believes adjusting to the elevated stage and the different crowd dynamic will be a challenge for him especially. "Warped Tour is a big risk for me because I'm very pro-interaction. So, having someone limit me is very difficult to accept. It goes back to, it might have to be a performance, and I don't want to look at it that way because it will spoil the moment for me. But I just need to keep thinking of why I'm doing it," the singer continued, "I said I would never play Warped Tour, it's not for us. We don't fit in. Even on this year's Warped Tour, there's no one like us on this tour. We're the oddball, we're the outsiders that came in on accident to this frat party. We're a bunch of punks and we're just like 'what do we do?' we just have to do what we know." 
           
Ultimately, Delgado's goal for Warped Tour is the same for all of the shows Rotting Out plays, to deliver a positive force to a new listener. "We're doing this because some kid needs to hear it. Because some kid is going to Warped Tour for the third or fourth time and seeing the same fucking bands; bands that all the sound the same and he's been waiting for something. I'm not saying we're going to save his life, I'm saying we could catch his attention enough for him to find other bands in our little niche of hardcore. If I can get to one kid at each Warped Tour, that's 42 kids in six weeks. That's more than OK with me. That's 42 kids that found something they didn't know was out there. All because we were the loud band on Warped Tour."
           
When Rotting Out finally took the stage at The Foundry, their impact on the crowd was instant. People began running to meet Delgado head on at center stage. The singer's description of the band's energy wasn't exaggerated. Numerous people were jostling for position to jump off of the stage, grab the microphone, and add to the frothing violence that makes up the hardcore band's ecstatic presence. Rotting Out did not disappoint, performing machine-gun fire songs like "No Clue," "Eyes Wide," and "Blade of Rust," plus "Born" which is on their most recent single Reckoning.
           
Rotting Out's entire set conveyed the same intensity and energy that their music is known for. It's easy to tell that the members love what they do and keep trucking along, even after playing for multiple days on end. Before the band went on, Delgado commented that the last time Rotting Out was in Cleveland in 2013, they received a lukewarm reception. Luckily, the crowd participation for this show was above and beyond what the singer expected. He even stated on stage that he was impressed by the turnout on a Tuesday night and that Cleveland deserves to be proud of their hardcore scene.
           
In addition to playing Vans Warped tour this summer, Rotting Out will also be performing at the New England Metal & Hardcore Fest in April and heading to the studio in June to record their third album, End of the Road. Delgado assures that this will be the band's hardest record they've ever written, "The harder we try, the more we don't like it. The song 'End of the Road' was written in five minutes and it's one riff and it's our favorite song on the record. It's because we weren't trying, it was very natural and very organic." The singer indicated the band decided to just have fun with this record and not over think on the album's composition, saying, "We don't need to prove anything to anybody because fuck everybody. And the last song we did came out exactly how we wanted it and we were just having fun in the garage. That's our biggest accomplishment right now is that record. I hope it comes out exactly how we want it and not how other people expect us to have it."
           
Be sure to catch Rotting Out at Vans Warped Tour for their Ohio dates in Cincinnati July 16th and Cuyahoga Falls July 23rd.