Why It Took 17 Years For (hed) p.e. To Be Seen

hed_pe_1240x800-620x400

Doing some number crunching while in the grips of a Sunday afternoon onslaught of snow, it became apparent that the evening’s assignment of covering (hed) p.e. had more than a little room for failure in it. Taking into consideration the always difficult scenario that a Sunday night show presents for ticket sales, as well as having to push back the set times just a day prior to the show are not conducive to the desired turnout. Adding the additional challenges of the winter wonderland mother nature provided Vancouver while factoring the headliners are listed as ‘rapcore’ (a term most have not uttered in 15 years) and concern for overall attendance was justified.

Arriving just prior to the Vancouver-based project Spread The Revenge who are comprised of members from local acts Wreckin Crew, 6 Ninjahs, We Are The Dead, and Crawl Through Fire, a minor wave of relief at the sight of a healthy turnout was welcomed.

The dual vocalist outfit Spread the Revenge is an act one simply has to see to believe.  

Leaving audience members talking and doing a little head-scratching after their 25-minute set, STR made way for (hed) p.e.

With vocalist Jared Gomes serving as the last remaining member of the original 1994 lineup, the one time six piece nu metal act from Huntington Beach, California has been whittled down to just four band members today.

Never shy inter-splicing genres and taking from each whatever suits their needs, it came as a touch of a surprise to see Gomes on stage for the opening track “Killing Time” (Broke) blowing like mad into a melodica between vocal parts. And though the lead singer went on to say “we did it”, from the Rickshaw Theatre stage late Sunday night. “It’s been 20 years but we’re back” Gnomes continued, in reality, it had been a paltry 17 years since last (h?d) p.e. graced Vancouver soil.

Back on July 16th, 1999 on the heels of (hed) p.e.’s self-titled label debut album a melodica-less (h?d) p.e. played an early festival show on the second stage in what eventually became a sold out Ozzfest. With the level of faded at the time, it’s not surprising that Gomes’ recollection of Vancouver is a hazy one. Gomes got so lit after the (hed) p.e. Thunderbird Stadium set (in what turned out to be Vancouver’s only Ozzfest in the (usually) annual tour’s 20 year run) that instead of performing with A System of a Down during their hour, he sat in front of the SOAD banner; holding his head in his hands.

Still talking about the ganja while accompanying some of the new reggae-influenced material with the melodica at the Rickshaw, the punk/ska/metal/reggae/rap stylings of the Brazilian/ American vocalist (sometimes known as) MC Underdog shows he has as much stubbornness as he does raw talent.

With just one original member in a wake a mile long of ex-PE’s, financial woes since the beginning (so dramatic that the decision to title their second album Broke was not a creative endeavour), having been forced to turn down multiple offers by Sony due to the outright debt that the band owed then label Jive Records, 22 years in the trenches, nine studio albums, being labeled a misogynist, and lumped in a genre pool that makes zydeco music look hip to the kidlings, one might ask why does Gomes not just pack it in?

Well, as a minor surprise Sunday night, Gomes along with drummer Trauma, guitarist Gregzilla, and bassist Kid Bass showed Vancouver why they are still plugging away at. They’re good, really good at what they do.

While it was Fred Durst of Limp Bizkit Scrooge McDucking it with all of the dollars earned at the height rapcore’s popularity, it was (hed) p.e. going Broke. And while so many credited Korn as being the frontrunners of the rap-metal movement it was (HED) Planetary Evolution that was arguably the best of them. (Note: Bad Brains, Living Colour, Faith No More, Mr Bungle, Rage Against The Machine and Ice T’s Body Count all played with the genre Korn would later make popular.)

With a little more rasp in his voice, but no less bounce in his step MC Underdog’s show Sunday night was a microcosm of his career. Not the biggest crowd didn’t seem to matter to the often smiling Gomes. Sprinkling some new songs like “Pay Me” from the band’s ninth and most recent LP Forever the guitar tunings were still dropped low and carried a meaty texture that complimented the versatile vocals of Gomes. Another newer notable “Lost In Babylon” had an old aesthetic that felt like it could have easily been ripped from the Church Of Realities album. Whereas “One More Body” had a more straight-ahead feel to it, as if the band was on tour with some East Coast hardcore bands but listening to some of Devin Townsend’s less technical material.

And not to let us old nostalgic grey-bushes down, (hed) p.e. played all of the tunes the fans since their 1997 self-titled LP were there to see like, “Bartender”, “Serpent Boy”, and “Swan Dive”.

Rounding out the commendable set with tracks like “Waiting To Die” and “Renegade” (hed) p.e. made many of us who showed up expecting to indulge in a guilty pleasure from the past smarten up and say, “oh yeah, these cats kick a lot of asphalt”.