Chasing Fridays: Camila Cabello, Xcelerate, LDB Fest, and more

My thoughts on the pop (flop?) song of the week, some hot new hardcore recs, and my experience at a Louisville hardcore fest.

Chasing Fridays: Camila Cabello, Xcelerate, LDB Fest, and more

Oh shit, a rebrand! That's right. I'm no longer calling this Friday column "My Listening Week" because I'm no longer using this column to exclusively write about my listening week. It's now called Chasing Fridays...because my blog's called Chasing Sundays and I publish this column on Fridays (cute, right?). This space will house my thoughts on music I listened to and shows I went to and maybe even some other stray thoughts I had over the previous seven days. More bang for your buck.

Speaking of which...In case you missed the sly mention in my recent write-up about The Armed, I stepped away from my full-time job at Revolver Magazine earlier this week. I have my reasons and those reasons are my own for now, but rest assured that it had nothing to do with a wavering faith in my chosen profession. I'm actually of the mind that music writing — real music writing, about real music, with real voice, and real opinions, that supplies real value to the reader — is as valuable and sought-after as its ever been in the internet age. And I hope to use this platform, and the many freelance outlets I'll be contributing to, to publish the kind of music writing that I want — and that others want — to see on their screens.

I've got the music. I've got the mind. I've got the will to write. Now I just need the money to dedicate the time. So if you enjoy what I've been writing here, and if you believe me when I say that the best of my work is yet to come, and that I'll be dedicating more energy than ever to publishing thought-provoking pieces on here in the coming weeks and months, then I'd sincerely appreciate it if you subscribed to Chasing Sundays at the $5/month tier.

The more sustainable this website becomes, the more time I can invest in publishing quality writing here. Pretty soon, I'll begin rolling out some paywalled content that only paid subscribers will have access to. For now, I just appreciate the support so I can make this the music writing destination that I have in mind.

Camila Cabello - "I Luv It" (Feat. Playboi Carti)

Everyone's talking about Camila Cabello's new team-up with Playboi Carti and it seems like the Cool and Knowledgeable music opinion-haver response is to say that it's awkward or it's tacky or it's try-hard. And yes, it's all of those things and that's why I actually really like it. The repetitious hook is a hilariously shameless nod to Charli XCX's "I Got It." Yes, I see that that it's technically an interpolation of Rihanna's blog-era thumper, "Cockiness (Love It)," but it's obvious that she's going for a Charli-ish rebrand with this album, and "I Got It" is the clear text she's Sparknotes-ing here.

The music video looks like an AI Harmony Korine movie and probably had the word "Lynchian" scribbled somewhere on the storyboard. Playboi Carti's verse is basically gibberish in the way most great Carti verses are. The two performers have very little natural chemistry, but Carti's deep trills always sound great when they're backed up by neon-colored synths like ones in this beat. Somehow, it just works. Or maybe it doesn't at all and that's why it works for me. It's hilarious that the "Havana" singer sounds like this now, but that's a good thing. I like when pop music is hilarious and messy and head-scratching. I don't come to Camila Cabello for tact. I've never come to Camila Cabello for anything, to be fair. But I like this more than the Beyonce singles so, ya know, go figure.

Xcelerate - All I See Is Hate

Almost all of my favorite hardcore releases of 2024 are by Florida bands. Jezter, Domain, Collateral, and now Xcelerate. I sadly missed this band's set at this year's FYA pre-show, and I'm kicking myself for not scheduling an earlier flight because holy fucking shit this is exactly what I want out of a hardcore band right now. Nasty, stompy, shit-kicking hardcore that's got some Boston belligerence, a dash of powerviolence, and some riffs/chants that bring to mind a band like Wide Awake: a late-Eighties Connecticut group who were doing late-Eighties NYHC. This is a five-minute EP that'll take up 10 minutes of your time because you'll have to play it twice. Great art, too. Stellar.

What Counts - Hoosier Style

I've lowkey been trying this thing called straight-edge in 2024. Feels pretty good so far. We'll see if I keep it up. But for now, it seems to be having a causational effect on my enjoyment of straight-edge hardcore, especially youth crew, a style I never gave a fuck about until recently. Reading old In Effect zines that cover the late Eighties youth crew scene has definitely played a role in my newfound appeal, but it also helps that bands like Indiana's What Counts are releasing fantastic youth crew-style hardcore in 2024.

Members of this band are also in the great Bloomington, IN, bands Full Stride and Velocity, but What Counts might be the best of the three. This new four-songer (including a Floorpunch cover) hasn't left my rotation for a couple weeks now. The mosh part during "Fly Over States," especially, is just so goddamn invigorating. They pull the same No Warning did in "Behind These Walls" where all the instruments cut beside the kick drum and it just thump-thump-thump-thump's its way into a crunchy riff that makes me want to put a hole through my living room TV. "Hoosier style!"

My 5 favorite bands I saw at LDB Fest

I went to LDB Fest in Louisville over the weekend, which is currently one of the nation's premier hardcore fests. Hatebreed, Obituary, Sunami, Mindforce, Twitching Tongues, Fiddlehead, and many other modern-day hardcore bigwigs played the two-day affair, and I managed to see every single band on the bill besides one (Koyo — not my thing).

As we do at all these fests, my Violent Treatment co-host Hugo and I talked a lot in between bands about the disconnect between the way hardcore is covered in the music press (and talked about by the online commentariat who only have one foot or finger in hardcore) and what the hardcore scene actually looks like. I won't get too deep in the weeds about that meta-music journo bullshit right now, but I will say that after going to five different hardcore fests over the last nine months (in addition to all the local hardcore shows I attend in Pittsburgh), it's been interesting to see which bands/styles are actually popping IRL versus the bands/styles people online consider to be the most "important" and/or "exemplary" of the current moment.

When I think about the five sets from the weekend that left the biggest impact on me, most of them were bands who have never (and probably never will) get a flashy write-up at a publication that typically ignores heavy music unless a hardcore band is "breaking boundaries" or offering a "vital perspective," or whatever people say about hardcore bands that don't offend their docile indie-rock sensibilities. I don't care if my hardcore bands break boundaries. I like my hardcore bands to break bones.


Yes, this band features two members of Knocked Loose, and yes this set went down in their hometown of Louisville, but it was still insane to see the apeshit reaction xWeaponx received (which upped the ante of the similarly batshit response they got at Florida's FYA Fest earlier this year). The straight-edge militants only have seven songs to their name and the kids know the words to all of them. Like always, they bookended their set with the "Weapon X Intro," and both times the pile-ups were hazardous to the stage's foundation. I like this band better than Knocked Loose. The songs are simple, mean, and hyperbolic about straight-edge in a way you don't see too much these days — but for which there's clearly an appetite for. Weapon X are arguably one of the biggest bands in hardcore right now, and they're a fucking side-project. Insane.

Big Boy

I didn't realize just how real the Big Boy hype was until I saw them at FYA back in January, where the crowd gave them a headliner's response. This LDB set might've been even nuttier. Sunami singer Josef Alfonso plays bass in this band, and they've technically been around as long as Sunami, but they've only recently started to pop outside of the Bay Area. Their springier, catchier, more NY-influenced breed of mosh-core really gets the room jumping, and frontman Brandon Flores is one of the most charismatic dudes in the scene right now. A few months back I wagered that they were next up out of the Bay. It's official: They're up.

Angel Du$t

OK, everyone knows Angel Du$t rule. But it was especially cool to see that they still know how to rule a hardcore fest where 90% of the bands playing are a million times heavier than them. Their newer, more indie-rock-ish songs still elicit stage dives, and the now-generational classics from A.D. and Rock the Fuck on Forever still resonated with both fans my age and people 5-10 years younger. They closed with "Set Me Up" and I really do think that's one of my favorite songs ever. There was a huge pile-up on the bottom part of the stage and I jumped onto it from the top part of the stage and that was mad fun. Hardcore rock & roll music.

Apex Predator

Apex Predator's December 2023 LP, Jesus Wept, is one of my favorite hardcore releases of late, and I was really stoked to finally see these Washington state crushers at LDB. They were the second band of day two, which means they played at noon and the room was still far from full. Even so, people seemed to go off for them and I thought they did a good job translating the mosh scholarship of their recorded material into the live setting. Apex Predator understand that having great sing-along parts doesn't inherently make your songs less heavy. It actually makes them more conducive to riling up a crowd than just one-dimensionally bellowing for 20 minutes straight. Superior band.


Mindforce are legitimately one of the biggest active hardcore bands, which is pretty wild considering all the members are pushing 40 (if not over the line already) and have never actually toured. They're just a weekender and fest band, which makes every set feel like an event. It also doesn't hurt that their songs are insanely fucking fun, the perfect mix of riffy, shouty, and ass-beaterly. There were four (4!) different pits that opened up for "Excalibur," which managed to beat the three they conjured at This Is Hardcore last summer. I think they got a bigger response than Hatebreed. And they deserved it.