I committed the worst “party foul” of the Bloomington hardcore scene: I arrived to the show 20 minutes late. I missed the opening band, Situational Hazard, at the Antumbra Room show last Friday night. I parked the car, mourned quickly and rushed inside to catch the rest of the show.
The Antumbra Room is not your average hardcore venue. For one, there’s great overhead lighting, as it resides in what appears to be an art studio, as it is across the street from the FAR Gallery. Painted canvasses stuff the shelves behind the mosh pit and an abstract mural covers the left wall with a note reminding moshers to be kind to the space taped to it. As the name denotes, it’s just a room.
Thankfully, I came just in time to see Tos N Turn, a brand-new Indianapolis-based hardcore band. I could not take my eyes off their drummer, Elijah Pollard. He made the drums the most dynamic aspect of their sound, something I have hardly seen in any band. They’ve only been practicing together for four months, and Pollard just joined in the last four weeks, he said.
“Elijah and I have been going to shows for a couple years now,” Morgan Evans, bassist for Tos N Turn, said. “Coming here and seeing the scene here is so cool. They’re different, but still with the same community aspect.”
Community seemed to be the running theme of the night. Unfortunately, several members of the Columbus, Ohio hardcore scene all got COVID-19, Chance Allen, vocalist for Full Stride and showrunner for the Antumbra Room, said. Headlining bands Crime Light and Kill Gosling subsequently had to drop out at the last minute, leaving an empty space for Pittsburgh indie rock band Rex Tycoon.
“We were actually planning on coming to the show because we wanted to see Full Stride,” Austin Reesman, vocalist and rhythm guitarist for Rex Tycoon, said. “It just worked out that there was room on the bill for us.”
Even though they weren’t hardcore musically, they embodied the spirit of D.I.Y. hardcore bands. They played aggressive indie rock that was loud enough to support the mosh pit.
“I think when we started the band, we just wanted to be a more straightforward rock band,” Reesman said. “Personally, I really wanted to do [music] like Lou Reed meets ‘90s rock.”
The inspirations came through beautifully for their set, peppered with the right amount of guitar solos from Joey Tiberio, their lead guitarist. They have officially started recording a new project here in Bloomington this week with an unknown release date.
As Rex Tycoon left the stage, the mood seemed to shift instantaneously. The room bubbled with excitement for the final band with an intense cult following. While the other bands were enticing, Full Stride was all-encompassing.
Chance Allen commands the stage, encouraging audience members to scream along to his songs. Before each track, Allen screamed “remix” in the most teenage DJ way possible. Some might think it’s a silly bit. Others might interpret it as a commentary on live performances, denoting that each song becomes a different version when played in front of unique audiences.
Allen also runs the Antumbra Room as well as RTR Tapes, a local cassette tape business for Bloomington bands. The current state of the venue is in flux as their lease is ending, but it is surely not the end for Allen.
“I think that venue worship is something that I see in a lot of places,” he said. “I think it’s antithetical to hardcore because hardcore is about the people and the values that come with being a part of that subculture. If anything, it’s just annoying logistically.”
As soon as I finish my interviews for the night, I notice that the entire room is empty. The instruments had been packed up along with any trace of the show. The room appeared larger now.
My friends and I piled out onto the sidewalk, calmly making our way to our cars and driving off into the night. Even though I had shown up late, I felt as if I hadn’t missed a thing.