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OLTH Wants You to Accept the Inevitability of Screamo

"There's gonna be a clown."

3:42 PM EDT on June 1, 2023

The five members of the band OLTH posing and looking at the camera.

(Courtesy of OLTH)

Stop me if you've heard this origin story before: OLTH, a band which calls itself screamo, but which I would probably call black metal, came together after they all met "in some bands together over the last ten years or so." 

Guitarist Malcolm Hoyt and vocalist Sean Kennedy grew up in the city, and the rest of the band spent their youth performing alongside each other in adjacent towns upstate. "We were in bands that played wildly different styles of music," Hoyt said, from heavy music to quiet. "It's like if the Yankees and the Mets joined together," drummer Benny Finkelstein said. "We traded enough players until we had it right." When the five members of OLTH finally came together, they said, they just found themselves making screamo.

In a phone call ahead of tonight's release show for their album "every day is sOmeOne's speciaL day," I asked the members of OLTH what the screamo designation even means. "When we use that word, we're mostly referring to certain bands from the early '90s up through now that are called screamo or skramz or emoviolence."

As we went on, it became clear that screamo is a kind of label that defies any real definition, perhaps the inevitable singularity of all extreme music.

"For me, it's kind of like a freedom badge, full creative mode. Like, do literally anything," Finkelstein said. Evans agreed: "Screamo's cool, because it's always been an excuse to do whatever the fuck you want." 

"It's like the Infinity Gauntlet. When it all comes together, it's screamo," Kennedy said.

OLTH's debut consists of the first nine songs they wrote together, in order. The sound came together right away. "Everything was present right from the get go," Hoyt said. "There was no other way that the cookie was gonna crumble," Kennedy said. "It was such a specific moment in all of our lives, with a lot of passion."

Even though only a couple of singles are out, the band has picked up a following of people who've caught their NYC shows, like the Liturgy show where I saw them open, or seen them on social media. I asked how they'd entice a newcomer to show up at The Broadway tonight. "If you like classic screamo but you also fuck with System of a Down or Korn, you'll probably like it," Evans said. "It's like beautiful metalcore," Hoyt offered.

"It fucking sucks," Evans responded.

The band said tonight's show will be the last OLTH show for a while as they prepare another album. I asked them what else they're looking forward to in the city.

Thursday, June 1: OLTH with Liturgy at The Broadway, 1272 Broadway, Brooklyn ($23.74)

Finkelstein: "Expect new bodily smells, really loud music, new cutting-edge fashion."

Evans: "There's gonna be a clown." 

Finkelstein: "Quite biblical."

Kennedy: "The band Liturgy is playing, who are our great friends. They're one of the best metal bands in New York."

Kennedy: "We're also gonna play every other song we've ever written." 

Opening Friday, June 9: "Transformers: Rise of the Beasts" (More expensive than it should be)

"I really, really, really like Michael Bay," Kennedy said.

Michael Bay directed this one?

"Actually, I think he didn't. Now that I think about it, I'm pretty sure he didn't. Well, no, he might have."

Note: He did not.

Friday, July 7: Catalyst and One Way Mirror, venue TBD

Evans: "Some pals coming through. More awesome screamo."

Friday, August 25: Iron Lung at TV Eye, 1647 Weirfield Street, Queens ($20, not including fees)

Hoyt: "I'm really excited to see Iron Lung. Iconic powerviolence, the fathers of the current scene. I love them—they're a really important band to me, one of the first bands that got me into punk and hardcore."

Always: Otto's Shrunken Head, 538 East 14th Street, Manhattan

Hoyt: "They have fucking sick shows. It's an amazing punk tiki bar, and everyone should go hit that place up because it deserves to exist for two more centuries."

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