Violent Youth Fest rocks Norfolk

An energetic crowd listens intently during the band Alpha’s set. 

Chris Mowery|Courtesy 

The Violent Youth Fest, a backyard heavy music festival, was full of great bands, energetic crowds and WWE type stunts. 

Blood pumping, bodies dancing, kicking and shoving through the mosh pit, all while avoiding kicks and shoves from others as bands wage a sonic assault on attendees.

Violent Youth Fest, a backyard do-it-yourself heavy music festival put on by Violent Ways Booking, occurred on April 27. The festival was headlined by a local band, Arm The Youth, in a farewell show before their lead singer ships off to boot camp. The fest’s lineup of bands included touring bands: Vomit Dolls from Massachusetts; K-HOLE from Buffalo, New York; Reviler from South Carolina; and Death Mask from Richmond, Virginia, as well as local bands Brutal Jab, Fupa Goddess, Sick Of Dying, Alpha and Arm The Youth. The festival was sponsored by Destroy Zine, a magazine that focuses on hardcore punk and counterculture, who vended products at the event.

The lead singer of Reviler, Will Belue, performs during their set.

Chris Mowery|Courtesy 

The first band was Fupa Goddess, who started with a heavy yet comedic set. Fupa Goddess played a fun-focused blend of grindcore (a heavier, faster and more metal-influenced subgenre of hardcore punk) and death metal. Between each song was a clip from the show “Seinfeld,” which added an extra element of humor to the band’s set. 


The next band was Brutal Jab, who delivered a beatdown of metallic hardcore. The band’s sounds and energy incentivized a mosh pit of slam dancers and created an intense atmosphere that would persist for the entire night. After Brutal Jab came Sick of Dying, who delivered grinding fast-paced punk that kept the energy going and the crowd moving.

At some point during the barrage of sound, pool noodles and inflatables were brought in and firecrackers were set off, which added extra layers to the already chaotic mosh pit. Tables were used to launch stage dives and to bounce back into the mosh pit for extra force to push through to the other side.

Next in the lineup was K-HOLE, whose militant sound ripped through the audience with their frontman joining in the moshing as well. Death Mask immediately followed up K-HOLE and continued the sonic destruction with a familiar, heavy and beatdown sound.

After Death Mask came Vomit Dolls who performed their furthest set from home and played a noisy, fast and grinding beatdown sound. They prompted the audience to circle the pit and brought in many more of the crowd members to join in on the mosh pit. The band brought in one of their roadies to join in on the set, who first played a homemade instrument which he blew into the microphone, and then lifted the lead singer onto his back.

Following Vomit Dolls was Alpha, a local punk band with a wide array of influences, from hardcore to folk. Their set looked more like a WWE death match with a live band than it did a traditional live band set. As they opened their set, they brought out a TV and instructed audience members to destroy it with bricks, to which the audience obliged, and destroyed it with the bricks and kicked it in.

 Following the TV destruction, the band brought out folding chairs with their band logo written on them and their vocalist, Austin, slammed them into his head. Following this, audience members started asking Austin to hit them with the chairs, which created a line of people being smacked by folding chairs as they cheered. 

After this, Austin brought out a folding table and covered it with thumbtacks. Audience members then began body slamming the table and throwing each other into it, Austin eventually joined in. Then, Austin proclaimed that he was going to slam into the table and that audience members did not need to take it upon themselves to destroy the table. 

Following this and a quick collective clean-up of the tacks, Alpha ended their set with two covers, first “Bodies” by Drowning Pool, and then finishing the set with a heavy cover of “Rebel Yell” by Billy Idol.

“So I grew up with, like, what was that, ‘Attitude Era WWE,’ ‘ECW,’ I remember watching bumfights, and MTV, we watched ‘Jackass,’ ‘Viva La Bam,’” Austin said on what influenced their very theatrical set. “These stunts look fun […] eventually I think I thought about becoming a pro wrestler type thing, but then I just didn’t know how to get into it and I didn’t know anybody, but then I just pursued art. I’ve always been into art.”

The final touring band of the night was Reviler, a heavy straight-edge hardcore band from South Carolina. They encouraged heavy crowd participation and called for stage dives and crowd-surfing and moshed with the audience.

The grand finale of the festival, and the band’s own final show in its current form, was Arm The Youth. The band played an eclectic blend of straight-edge hardcore and anarcho-punk, infused with progressive Christian ideals. 

“I’m not going to speak for everyone in the band because we started out and we had different conversations about what we think Jesus was like. Personally, I think me and Chris [Arm The Youth’s guitarist], we agree on the same thing. We think Jesus was an anarchist and we generally think that if Jesus were here today, a lot of people that worship him wouldn’t like him,” Carter, the band’s vocalist and primary lyricist and leader of Violent Ways Booking, said.

The band also has a wide range of musical influences. “I was more so into metal stuff, like black metal in particular,” Chris said. On his influences before joining Arm The Youth, he said, “Playing in a punk band got me into punk.”

The band’s drummer, Ivan, came from a different musical background. “I come from a jazz background, so I kind of want to infuse some of those different types of drum beats and stuff like that,” he said.

The band’s bassist, David, was newer to the band than other members. “I wasn’t really here for the writing of the songs, I just joined and was told what to play. For me personally, I really like just seeing people move and having our music cause people to just go crazy in the pit, it’s just a cool feeling to have.”

Arm The Youth’s set was energetic, and included hard-hitting new material from the band, including a track called “Dogs With Teeth” which includes one of Carter’s favorite lyrics: “You think you’re better than me, but I can see you’re at rock bottom, and we’re both looking eye-to-eye.” 

Their set was incredibly energetic and culminated in Carter vomiting after thanking the audience for the night.

The venue of the show is called Sanctuary House, which is a house venue operated by Raymond Marquis. House venues have a reputation for shows getting shut down following noise complaints; however, Violent Youth Fest faced no issues of this kind. 

“We functionally invite all of the neighbors, we put out flyers to all of them that tell them like when we’re starting music, when we’re stopping music, and tell them that if they’re interested they should swing by, and I think it’s a lot harder to get mad at a party you’re invited to,” Marquis said on how issues were avoided.

The festival was a hit with attendees, those both new to hardcore and established community members. For one attendee, James, it was his first show. “I’ve never let loose like that,” he said. 

A more seasoned show-goer, Natalie, spoke on her experiences with hardcore. “If you don’t fit in, this is your place,” Natalie said.

Violent Youth Fest ended the night of energy with a calm bonfire and free hot dogs for all attendees. As friend groups reformed and people tended to their mosh-pit injuries, the chaos died down for the night, ready to start again another day.

By Aiden Croghan