Did We Really Witness Bane's Last Show?
Last night, Bane played to over 2,200 people at the Worcester Palladium. We asked fans and musicians alike whether or not it will be the band's last.
All Photos by Derek Scancarelli
Nearly a hundred years ago, the historic and beautiful Massachusetts venue, the Worcester Palladium, was built. And twenty years ago, a couple miles away, Bane embarked on a career that would change the trajectory of modern hardcore. Yesterday, Bane’s final show packed 2,200 people wall-to-wall in a New England hometown sendoff. After years of speculation, the breakup of Bane had become a romanticized and borderline ridiculed trope in the hardcore community. But last night, after performing a set that was over two hours long, Bane fans truly understood why it’s been so hard for the guys to say goodbye. On June 18, 2016, one year to the day of our interview about their final run, we watched it all come to an end.
Bane’s vocalist Aaron Bedard jumped and screamed and sweated with the same intensity he always has. He spoke about living in the moment, depression, ignorance, racism, bullying, and the trials and tribulations of being in a band for two decades. “We can’t go back,” Bedard said. “But we can try to not forget.” To say farewell to Bane, we decided to let the friends, family, and fans of the band speak their own eulogies. Here are the testimonials of the people we spoke to.
Left: John, 30, drove four hours from VT / Right: Andy, 23, came from Central CT
How long have you been a fan of Bane?
Six years ago is when I first heard Give Blood. They were playing at a show in Allston that one of my friends told me to come along to. There wasn’t a stage, so there were no stage dives, but the energy of people singing along and moving around the room made it so that you could feel what was happening.
Why are Bane so important to the hardcore community?
Lots of hardcore bands come and go but Bane has been a constant for the past 20 years, playing the biggest shows and fests.They’ve always had a following because what they write speaks true to disenfranchised kids like me who sort’ve feel out of place.
On Give Blood, they were talking about passivism, being upset with where politics were going at the time. Even though the album was written 20 years ago, it still rings true today. That shows how important what they were saying back then was.
Do you think this is actually their last show?
I do. Even though what they’re saying is still so relevant, I think it’s time for them to hand the torch off to whoever is coming next.
Josh, 27, is from Kingsborough, MA
How long have you been a fan of Bane?
Since 7th or 8th grade. My sister got me into them. It’s been my go-to for over a decade. She’s on her way here now. Throughout high school, when I got home, I put on Bane, and that’s how I got through my day.
How many times have you seen Bane?
This is gonna be my first and last time. I’ve watched hundreds of hours of YouTube videos. It’s crazy. That’s why I’m excited that there aren’t going to be any barriers.
Do you have a song you’re going to go crazy during?
“Final Backwards Glance,” it’s a very emotional song.
Why do you think Bane were so important to hardcore?
They’re pioneers, and here in this area, they started here. This is the support for a local band that made it big and toured around the world for decades. The message they send out is all about positivity. There is nothing bad you can say about a band like that.
Zack, from Portland, ME, is a father, but a hardcore kid at heart.
How long have you been a fan of Bane?
Since the beginning. We used to have such a great scene, it was the Boston-Portland thing. Bane has helped me through so many different parts of my life. Not really drugs, but there was a time where I really let myself go downhill. It was the positivity and that scene that brought me back. It will always, til the death of me, be my family. I don’t care if I don’t know any of these people. We are friends. We can get along, we can talk to each other. I was telling my wife, I’m that old that I have a wife and kids at home, I’m still a hardcore kid at heart. I’m gonna leave a piece of me behind in this room when I leave, it’s gonna be hard for me to not shed a tear tonight.
What makes their shows so great?
The passion! There are very few bands that have the passion they have for the music. Aaron is a straight-up hardcore kid. He’s pushing 50 and he’s one of the greatest hardcore kids in the scene. And he always will be, I don’t care if he’s in a wheelchair up their singing songs.
Do you think this is actually their last show? Why has it been hard for them to let it go?
I’m sure they’re gonna announce the reunion date tomorrow! [Laughs] It’s the love dude. It’s the heart. They feel the same way that I do for the scene. It becomes a part of you. And it’s all you know. That’s your family. It doesn’t matter if it’s strangers in there; we’re all family, because we’re under the same roof. Listen to “My Therapy” and it basically explains it all.
Ed, 27, has been booking hardcore and punk shows in Wallingford, CT for years.
Do you have any good stories seeing Bane?
I drove through a snowstorm to see them in Hartford once. Trapped Under Ice was supposed to play but they got stuck somewhere. I really liked Bane when I was a kid, but I had a time period where I wasn’t as into them, so I wasn’t actually going to that show to see them. But seeing that show, that turned me around. I went back and revisited them and started listening again. The intensity of the crowd, the band, this was four or five years ago, so they were already an older band at that point, but they had more energy than young kids you see playing shows now. The snowstorm kept a bunch of people away so there wasn’t even that many people there. They were still just as into it as when I’ve seen them play to 2,000 people.
You’re a member of the Connecticut hardcore scene and you’ve been booking bands for years. Many come and go, why has Bane lasted?
They have meaningful lyrics. A lot of bands don’t anymore. And it doesn’t seem like it ever got boring to them. Some people get over it. A lot of my friends have stopped caring, they don’t want to go to shows anymore. I never got over it. It speaks to me that Bane didn’t either.
Do you think this is actually their last show?
I’m gonna give it five years until they do a reunion. I think five years is even being generous. But I think they’re for real, they’ve been doing it for a long and they’ve made a decision. But, you know, it’s the last show until the next one! [Laughs] I think they’ll make us wait a while.
Chris Richter from Right Brigade
Richter, 34, has listened to BANE since 1997
When did you first discover Bane?
When I was a freshman in high school, this kid had a classic Bane shirt that had a gun on it. I haven’t seen anyone wear it in forever. It was so controversial and I remember the school kicked him out for wearing it one day. I was like, “What’s that band!?” [Laughs] He started playing their stuff in the car on the way to school, and I was like, “Holy shit, it’s amazing.” I think throughout the late 90s and early 2000s, I probably saw them 20-30 times throughout New England.
How does the intensity stack up now compared to the 90s?
It’s interesting, it’s so weird to see a band like Bane 20 years on and the way it has transcended different decades of hardcore. It’s wild to see kids still going crazy like they just started two years ago. It just never seemed to stop. Kids still go buck wild like they did in the 90s. It’s a testament to their effort to be a band that continued to tour and put out music. That’s really admirable in a scene where it’s hard to do that as you get older.
What is it about Bane that made the band withstand the generations?
Bedard is a great frontman, he speaks from the heart. A lot of kids really resonated with his lyrics as a young kid. He spoke to issues and ideas that I was dealing with myself as a teenager. It spoke to a deeper meaning, most people barely scratched the surface. There are very few hardcore singers who have been able to do go beyond clichés and really speak to truth and topics that the hardcore scene should speak about more.
Who were Bedard’s contemporaries?
We had Jesse [Strandhard] who is the singer of Right Brigade, his lyrics are pretty damn good and powerful, that gave way to people like Wes [Eisold] from American Nightmare, Dave [Weinberg] from The Suicide File, people that started writing deeper. Whether it was Wes talking about emotion, Dave talking about politics, or Aaron bringing in religion and feelings of the scene. Those guys represented the golden age of hardcore frontmen in the Northeast.
Is this actually Bane’s last show?
I don’t think so. At some point they’ll feel the pull to be back on stage again and that’ll be really hard to suppress. A lot of bands say it’s their last show, and inevitably come back. I understand it. If you’ve made music a huge part of your life the way Bane has, it makes sense to want to come back and do it again. And if they don’t, more power to them. It’s hard to do.
Bobby Bane’s Family
BANE drummer Bobby Mahoney’s family left to right: his mother Donna, his younger brother Matt, and his stepfather Tom
There have been many final Bane moments. How are you feeling today?
Matt: I’m not sure how to feel, it’s pretty exciting for them to be hanging up their cleats. But I’m also nervous for them.
Donna: I’m mixed. It is emotional.
What was it like raising a son in a crazy band like this? Were you scared at first?
Donna: [Laughs] It was very scary at first. But I adapted and I stood on the sidelines.
Isn’t it amazing to see this reckless but beautiful thing?
Donna: It’s totally insane how these kids react. I see Bon Jovi, people are squeeming, but not jumping off the stage.
Do you like watching your son’s shows?
Donna: No! [Laughs] I’ve seen him jump and I’m scared to death that he’s gonna break his neck.
What was it like watching your brother come up in Bane?
Matt: I’ve been going to his shows since before he was in Bane. He was in a band called Blackbelt, we went to the Plymouth Town Hall downstairs with 60 kids. Now we’re here with 2,200 who’ll go bezerk to watch him bang the drums.
Why did Bane last?
Donna: I don’t have an answer to that.
Matt: I think it’s the singer. He’s in it for the long haul, he’ll be coming to these things when he’s walking with a cane. He’s 100% all in on hardcore and his message to the kids is what keeps them coming back. What keeps him coming back is knowing that they’ll be back.
What message has the band sent out?
Matt: I guess it’s changed. I think it started with straight-edge. But it’s kinda altered into being about acceptance and positivity. You see it here. All these kids are swinging fists, but they’re not doing it to hurt one another, they’re doing it to get their feelings out.
Will this actually be their last show?
Tom: We can only hope.
Matt: As far as tours, sure. But I’m willing to bet that a couple years down the road they’ll do something again. But ultimately, this is the last hoorah.
Will you be on stage tonight?
Donna: Yes, behind Bobby. That’s where I hide.
Did you buy him his first drumset?
Tom: His mother would bring him to my shows, we were a wedding band at the time, he would come up and perform. He fell in love. Now it’s history. He’s the hardest working man I’ve seen on the drums. We knew right away that he had a love for it; he always had a good feel for music. It was amazing to see him grow. Even when we had disagreements, like “You should go in another direction…” He knew the music he wanted to play. And he was right.
You should be very proud of your son, he’s touched a lot of people.
Donna: I’m gonna cry. Then I’m gonna bronze his drumsticks.
Alyse and Amy, Massachusetts
Left, Alyse, 32, and right, Amy, 28, from Marlborough, MA
How many times have you seen Bane?
Amy: Tons of times, maybe 20 times.
Alyse: Worcester has such a good hardcore scene. If you grow up in any of the towns between here and Boston, it’s a center for music. Bane were one of the first acts that really made their mark outside of the local scene, and they’re huge in Europe. There are kids here who weren’t even alive when they started playing. I first saw them back in high school when I was like 15.
Why do you think they lasted so long?
Alyse: They’re road warriors. They hit all the right notes and connect with their fans. They work, they’re slugging it.
Amy: And they’re humble.
Do you think this actually their last show?
Alyse: No! Do I think this is their last major tour? Yes. But they’ll pop up. Everyone here knows that, but we still wanted to be here for this.
Amy: I fucking love Bane.
Joe Hardcore, Pennsylvania
Joe Hardcore, left, with Bane’s Aaron Dalbec, right. Joe runs This Is Hardcore in Philadelphia.
When was the first time you saw Bane?
First time I saw Bane was in a town outside Philadelphia. Everyone said it was guys from Converge, I didn’t understand because they didn’t sound like Converge. Eight months later, I saw them at Edge Day in Haverhill, MA, October 2000. I was going to shows and fighting or being crazy, and I hadn’t had an experience like that with hardcore where you stood there and heard the entire place sing every word. The word is awestruck. I started booking them a couple years later. Since 2006 I’ve been working with them, now it’s a great friendship. Hardcore will be changed as of tonight.
Why is the band important to hardcore?
Try to name a band like them. They are a unique presence. Their lyrics are in a singular realm. Aaron’s delivery has never been done before, the narrative, sometimes they tell a story; sometimes he’s recanting emotions he’s had. What the band does on and off stage is a pedigree above what a lot of bands do. It’s a perfect storm. They came from Western Mass which didn’t even have a huge scene, 20 years later they’re a paragon in the community. How do you even touch that?
How could you speak to their character as people off stage?
There are bands that have a beautiful way of saying things on stage, but backstage they have all the deceitfulness that comes with the rockstar life that isn’t supposed to be involved with hardcore. The attentiveness that Bane gave to a bill of their own show or a fest always showed that they weren’t there for themselves but to be part of the whole process.
Is heart an integral part of it?
You ever see a band play and throw their guitars and give everything? When you see a member of Bane walk off stage, you know they have no energy left. They leave it all on the stage. Second to none. They love their fans and believe in their music. They don’t play a carbon copy style. They’re influenced by hardcore, but what they put in front of you is their own stuff.
Do you think tonight is really their last show?
Yeah. Maybe 15 years from now. I could see them never playing ever again. It’s surreal. It’s a shame, because I don’t think they really want to end, but I think they realize that touring takes away from their personal and family lives. They’ll put everything on the stage and walk away knowing they did everything they could to say goodbye.
Chris Martin from Hostage Calm
“Cmar,” former vocalist of the now-deceased Hostage Calm, came up in the CT hardcore scene
How long has Bane been in your life?
Bane was already benevolent goliath by the time I was first getting into shows when I was 13. They were playing legion halls and VFWs in Connecticut and Worcester. They were already the monster hardcore band that was generation defining 15 years ago. Everybody had a BANE hoodie.
Why has the band lasted so long?
They were always focused on maintaining authenticity. Sometimes the trend bands- people always look at a positive band and they kind of want to poke holes at it, poke fun at it for being so sincere. They think it’s cool to be mysterious and divested. But Bane was never the “whatever” band. They were always 100% full-steam. They stuck around because of that; all the bands that were too cool and put out flavor of the week albums, those bands are gone. But Bane is still doing the same exact ultra-sincere brand of hardcore that they were when I first saw them 15-years ago.
Are they already in the history books of hardcore?
They could’ve broken up back then and they would’ve been one of the biggest Mass bands ever. I think Bane, up there with Hatebreed, but of the underground hardcore international scene, might be the biggest band since the 80s. Truly, in terms of their multigenerational reach. A punk generation is like two years, that’s how long kids go to straight-edge shows before they smoke weed and go to college. Bane has been through ten generations of that and has been a mainstay throughout. They’re one of the all-time greats. The general positive-minded socially conscious scene, that link is inextricable; positivity and Bane were in the same sentence growing up.
Chaka Malik from BURN
Malik is the singer of the legendary NYHC band BURN.
What is unique about the energy of Bane?
The feeling that I get when Bane is playing, and this is true kind of hardcore across the board, but Bane embodies it, is the inclusiveness, excitement, and explosiveness of feeling singular and alone and aware of your own personal struggles and victories, but compelled to sing along in unison with others. It’s this rare thing where you feel aware of yourself as an individual, but it gives you room to meld into the community and enjoy that moment with them. I think that’s pretty rare. From a performance standpoint, performing is a weird word because it sounds like acting, but they’re really giving the emotion and the vibration and the energy that is the foundation of their music. There’s intensity, there’s some danger, but there’s also inclusiveness. It’s not a safeness, but it allows you to feel like you could be the ninth person to jump onto a pile of people, and it’s gonna be okay. [Laughs]
What values does Bane project?
The thing I would take away from it is about being honest with yourself. I think we misuse the word honesty when we just want to be lazy with our speech. Saying, “I’m gonna be honest with you,” isn’t being honest. Honest means asking yourself, “Why am I feeling this way? Is this valid? Yes, ok, this is valid for these reasons. Fuck, I need to make a change in my life.” What Bedard shares in his lyrics about being cool with who you are, and being the best person that you can be, and being aware of your struggles and victories, I think that’s hugely important.
Would you classify their career as a victory?
I hope so, that’s not up to me, it’s up to the band, but I would say yes. They’ve touched a ton of people. Now the music is out there and easy to access. It will continue to live on and gain a broader audience.
Lou, Bane’s Merch Guy
Left to right: Chaka from BURN, Lou, and JUDGE vocalist Mike Ferraro
How long have you known them? How has the relationship grown?
I first met them in 99 through other bands that I used to work for. I would see them on the road and the friendship blossomed organically.
How would you describe their character as friends?
I’ll preface it with this, I work with a lot of bands, a lot of them are kind of pieces of shit. These guys are some of the best human beings I’ve ever met in my entire life. They are wonderful examples of what people should be to each other, they’re thoughtful, special, caring, very talented. The things I just said about them personally, that comes across as a band, it has a pulse. It’s one beating heart.
Why were they so important to hardcore?
As a band, they’ve had nothing but the best intentions and it came across in the music. They identify things that people feel that they are unable to articulate themselves, and I think it provides a vehicle for love, frustration, anger, despair and being lost. Bedard’s lyrics have always been really good with that. He’s said everything that I’ve ever thought about but couldn’t put into words.
Do you have any really fond road stories?
We just came back from Costa Rica. It was almost as if time froze and I was able to hang out with the boys. To me that was special, I wasn’t ready to say goodbye yet.
Are you gonna cry tonight?
I don’t know if I’ll cry in the venue. But I have a hotel across the street. I also won’t say goodbye to anybody, because I don’t like that. Not tonight. I’ll more than likely watch the show then just leave, I just, I can’t. Too many things to say.
To circle back to some of Bedard’s closing words on stage: Thanks Bane, for leaving things a little bit better than the way you found them.
Read our interview with Bane regarding their exit from music.
Derek Scancarelli wishes he was on that stage. Follow him on Twitter.