Bad Luck 13: Better bring a helmet

When Midnight Sun reader Allan first told me about Bad Luck 13, I was shocked, appalled and wildly interested in the group.

DISCLAIMER: I, Allan, do not endorse, nor condone, some of the things I’m about to write about.

That said, let me introduce you to the Bad Luck 13 Riot Extravaganza. It’s a name that strikes terror and salivation into avid hardcore fans and sends bar and club owners scrambling for better property insurance.

If, for some crazy reason, you found yourself at show with these guys and didn’t know what was coming, you might as well write your last will and testament on the nearest bar napkin.

To start it off, Bad Luck 13, is a hardcore/metal act from Philly, comprised of 13 members. They’re notorious for having the most absurd, brutal, and dangerous stage shows in recent history. Violence, pyrotechnics, and sometimes unwilling audience participation are often the norm.

And before you go thinking to yourself, "I saw Metallica/Seether/Papa Roach at Hammerjacks, and I was fine," think again. These shows are absolute war zones. Words can barely describe them, but I'll try ...

Here's a list of regular some of the regular things you might see (compiled from memory and YouTube):

  • Fluorescent light bulbs being used as swords, and then being broken (sometimes on people) in the middle of the pit.
  • The band beating the absolute crap out of each other. I’m not kidding. Full on fistfights between members.
  • Audience members are welcome to join in on the above-mentioned brawl. However, once you start it, you’d better finish it, as I’ve seen more than a few people leave the front of the stage either bleeding, or well on their way.
  • Did I mention baseball bats wrapped in barbed wire?
  • Massive property destruction. If there’s a chair or table within reach, it better be bolted down and made of titanium. If not, it WILL be thrown.
  • Fireworks/fire breathing going anywhere. More often than not, roman candles pointed at audience members, with a few M80’s tossed in for flavor.
  • Full on nudity, if the situation calls for it.

Those are just the basics you could expect to see at any given show. However, there have been a couple times they decided to up the ante.

(These are all either eye witness accounts, or documented somewhere on video)

From my friend George: "I saw them at the HXC Super Bowl at Nation (in DC) a long time ago, fluorescent light bulbs breaking, blood, drunk guys in over coats, girls running around with bloody diapers, ridiculousness"

From my buddy Ted: "Fireworks, gasoline, pig heads, fluorescent light bulbs, one guy pushed off a stage with a colostomy bag that they all [filled] before the show, did I say fireworks and florescent lights?


Let me elaborate, about the pig head. One of the last bigger shows they played was at Hellfest 2004.

Four or five days beforehand, they had gotten a hold of a severed pigs head from a local butcher, and left it to rot until the day they played.

When the time came for them to start their set, the pig head was immediately tossed into the audience, and proceeded to be tossed around for the remainder of the show (this is actually on the DVD footage they sell of that show). After the set was done (read: shut down) they took the head with them to dispose of it, and one of those kids, who was trying waaaay too hard to be cool, actually took a piece of it, and ate it. I've never vomited in my mouth before, but I came close when I saw that.

My last story about them, I truthfully can't verify. I've heard it from so many people though, that it's either true, or just one of those stories that follows a band.

The story goes that they were playing down in Texas, during a resurgence of one of the killer bee scares. The day before the show, they went to a beekeeper, bought about 50 or so (regular) bees, and put them in a glass jar. Halfway through their set, they held up the jar, proclaimed that they caught killer bees, and then smashed the jar in the middle of the pit in front of them. Needless to say, panic ensued, and the show was shut down.

Before ending this, I’d like to clarify a few things. First off, even though they’re a hardcore band (music genre, not a description), they absolutely DO NOT represent the HXC scene at all, just a sub-faction of it.

I had a great time growing up with bands like Bane, 7 Seconds, Shutdown, Youth of Today and xLooking Forwardx. Those guys exemplified the ideals of unity, finding strength in your friends and family, and a generally positive outlook on life. Bad Luck 13, arguably represented one or two of those things, but for the most part, were just a ridiculous stage show and a badge of honor if you saw it.

Also, I'd like to point out that, while everything I've told you is true (or as close to true as I can get), these guys weren't hurricanes of senseless carnage and destruction.

If the venue was way too small to be lighting off fireworks or anything else, they usually toned it back a bit, for the sake of the audience. Case in point: I saw them at Cafe Tattoo, in Overlea, and it was one of the more mild shows they played, due to the horrendously small amount of space.

If you came to the show, you had to know what you were getting into. If you were there, (hopefully) you knew why, and made that decision yourself, with a full understanding of what you were getting into.

As to my knowledge, currently, they're broken up. However, every now and then I hear rumors from people that they're getting ready to tour again, or do one last show.

One thing's for sure: If you see anything remotely resembling Bad Luck 13 Riot Extravaganza on the bill at a show you're at, you better bring a helmet.

(Photos from Bad Luck 13's MySpace site)

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