Review: Show Me The Body’s World War Tour Attracts Hardcore Fans Across All Scenes at Metro

There’s no better way to pre-game St. Patrick’s Day than throwing down in the pit to four of the most exciting and unique hardcore bands of this generation. Hardcore-adjacent trio Show Me The Body sold out the Metro with Zulu, Jesus Piece, and Scowl, plus underground rapper Tripp Jones, to round out one of the best stacked bills I’ve ever seen live. SMTB’s World War Tour kicked off early last month in Philadelphia, stopped in Chicago on Thursday and will wrap up in their hometown of New York City in just a couple days. Despite the tour’s name, the five-week tour only spans the United States and three dates in Canada, though the hype following Show Me The Body’s latest album release Trouble in the Water (2022) has been global. This group has a cult-like following pulling fans from different genres as their roots are firmly planted in punk rock with influence of hip hop, sludge metal, and noise.

SMTB members Julian Pratt, Harlan Steed, and Jackie took Metro’s stage around 9:30pm which remained unlit for the duration of their opening song “Out Of Place” off Trouble in the Water. The song features Julian’s spoken-word style vocals over Harlan’s swelling and ominous synth. They pumped up the energy for the second song “Boils Up” off the same album and fans pushed to the front of the stage with a force that bruises, trust me. Their stage presence is strange but powerful. Julian dressed for the occasion by donning a Cubs jersey that looked so right with his banjo. Harlan switched between a severe power stance on bass and turning to his keyboard for synth, his hair was wild and totally metal. From where I was standing, I couldn’t see much of Jackie on drums but on stage they all exchanged smiles and glances throughout their set which included more songs off of Trouble in the Water plus “Badge Grabber”, “Not For Love”, “USA Lullaby”, and “Camp Orchestra” from Dog Whistle, and “Body War” off Body War as their outro.

Show Me The Body’s fans danced, swayed, and shouted along to each song – the set wasn’t brutal enough for a crowd killing pit to emerge but there were plenty of stage-divers who took advantage of the largely open stage. One individual even hopped up there and strategically dropped a dead rat in the middle of the stage before diving into the crowd right over my head. The rat remained there for probably less than a minute before another diver popped up to scoot the poor rodent’s corpse to side stage before taking a leap back into the crowd. Eventually security personnel safely removed it with gloves and a rag, but not before I got a few shots. The whole debacle was hardcore, but also sad and most definitely gross. I have inside knowledge that this isn’t the first time the Metro has been rat-bombed recently.

The World War Tour at Metro started around 7pm and with such a great line-up I had to get in on the action. I arrived at Metro about half-way through Tripp Jones’ set which was admittedly unexpected and seemed out of place. However, there are so many scenes within hardcore and within this tour’s lineup, it’s no place for me to judge. Plus, hardcore is a community where we respect one another, so I embraced the SoundCloud rapper of it all while sipping a vodka soda. Zulu was up after Tripp, and it was right before their set that I realized there wouldn’t be a barricade for the show. No barricade meant all the photographers would need to fight for our lives in the crowd to get our shots, something I don’t always love, but for this tour it was fitting. The best part of most hardcore shows is the interaction between audience and stage.

California natives Zulu drew a dense crowd which resembled a sold-out Metro show. The group of five is a seriously heavy band who created the subgenre #blackpowerviolence, though they prefer not to be referred to as a Black Power band. Their set included bursts of hardcore with calmer samples of reggae, jazz, and funk sprinkled in to break up the heaviness. Thursday night was my first time seeing Zulu live, though I’ve been a fan since 2020 when they released My People... Hold On. Their set was energetic and fun, it included dance breaks and brought a unique lightheartedness to the atmosphere of Metro that continued throughout the night.

Scowl went on next, once again changing up the vibe. This Santa Cruz based group has a catchy, more traditional punk/hardcore sound. They’ve had a come-up like Turnstile in that they are turning heads way outside of the hardcore scene. It’s not hard to understand why they’ve blown up after seeing them live. Front-woman Kat Moss’s aesthetic was as striking and cool as the music. Blue and magenta lights illuminated her acid-green hair making it glow like something radioactive. She’s not only a killer vocalist but completely gorgeous, which someone in the audience obviously thought as well, yelling out to her after their first song “please marry me!”. Moss responded into the mic, “absolutely fucking not. Someone better check their boy” before launching into another track. Scowl’s rowdy punk vibe was a great precursor to the absolute powerhouse that is Jesus Piece.

Jesus Piece falls under the genre of metal-core, they’re from Philadelphia and are famous for their chaotic live shows. They are by far the heaviest set of the World War Tour and have a dynamic sound that is both haunting and brutal. Jesus Piece is a widely respected band, they brought the crowd of Metro together into one massive, writhing, beautiful blob. The tempo switches mixed with disgustingly low drop tuning is almost as mesmerizing as front-man Aaron Heard’s wild eyes. The man is completely ripped- he looks like a professional athlete and is incredibly graceful on stage. He moved from one side to the other through countless stage-divers and guest vocalists all the while commanding the attention of every single person in the crowd.

Jesus Piece was my favorite set of the night to watch and be a part of as I’ve always leaned in the heavier direction within hardcore, so I was excited to see that SMTB included them on the World War Tour. This tour truly curated a rounded example of hardcore by inviting Zulu, Scowl, Jesus Piece and even Tripp Jones along. There are so many niches within the scene of hardcore and to include a wide array of genres and types of people speaks to how unique SMTB are themselves. They have roots in hardcore, love the unique music they create and are committed to nurturing the community of not only their fans, but fans and musicians across the entire scene.

All photos by Shaela Johnston

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Shaela Johnston

Shaela is a West-Coast born freelance photographer and writer, relatively new to Chicago as of 2021. Specializing in live music photography, Shaela can be found attending concerts several times a week when she isn't traveling or working on her Bachelor's degree. In her free time she listens to metal, hardcore, hip-hop, and likes to chill at home with her hairless cat named Soup and wife Courtney.