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Kublai Khan TX Brought The Hammer Down On A Sold Out Starland Ballroom

The sold-out crowd was on its feet on April 20 in Sayreville, New Jersey for the mighty Kublai Khan TX. Kublai Khan TX just wrapped Part One of their fully sold out headlining tour and the band made its second to last stop at The Starland Ballroom for what would be the band’s biggest headlining show of the tour. Joining Kublai Khan TX on this incredible tour was Momentum, Judiciary, and Sunami as special guests.


Kublai Khan TX

Momentum is a metallic hardcore band from Los Angeles, California and consists of Jordan Jenkins (vocals), Carlos Seijas (guitar), Gage Gods (guitar) and Josh Orellana (drums). The band was formed in 2016 and have had the intention of creating music that blends hardcore with metal and thrash while also experimenting with other elements such as groove. The band emerged onto the scene in November 2016 with their debut EP, Bliss, a collection of six tracks that deliver a perfect blend of hardcore and trash metal. The band then released their self titled debut album, Momentum in September of 2021.


Momentum

Momentum kicked their set off with Overkill” which is taken off their self titled album Momentum and the New Jersey crowd wasted no time letting loose for the California boys. The mosh pit opened wide and was filled with mosher's two-stepping and hardcore dancing from the start of the song, to the end. This continued in the next two songs “Forget To Die” and “7 Lives”. Security at the front began seeing crowd surfers coming towards them during “7 Lives” which caught them off guard as they weren't expecting crowd surfers for a band like Momentum.


Jenkins is a very active frontman, not only was he moving around while singing, but he was also two-stepping and even hardcore dancing on stage along with the crowd whenever there was a breakdown. Jenkins took the time to thank everyone for coming out early to see their set and thanked Kublai Khan for bringing them out on this tour, followed by a shout out to the other bands on the bill. For the next song “Indulgence in a Lesser Self,Jenkins demanded the crowd to get off their feet, to which the crowd obliged instantly once the song started playing. This was then followed by fans in the pit two stepping and crowd surfing more. Halfway through the song Jenkins called out for violence in the most New Jersey way he could think of, shouting “NEW JERSEY, PUNCH SOMEONE IN THE F*CKING GABAGOOL” which is a nice reference to The Sopranos. The crowd complied and caused mayhem from the front to the back.


It's been stated before but out of all the shows on this tour, The Starland Ballroom show was the biggest show ever and not only was that incredible, but it was also sold-out and Jenkins joked that it was solely because of Momentum that the show sold out, which the crowd cheered to in response. He also praised the rowdy New Jersey crowd for being way better than Connecticut. The next song was “Bliss” which was the first song the band has ever written. The song sits at #1 on Spotify with over 980,000 streams. The song was short, but it packed a massive punch even in a live performance. The pit continued their two-stepping activities and even shouted the opening line with Jenkins BLISS!!!”


There were two songs left and the band told New Jersey to give them everything they had left. Jenkins wanted the crowd to show him something crazy on “3AM” and once they got to the song’s slow ending breakdown, they did exactly that by pushing the pit even farther to the sides, making room for more dancing and more chaos. Momentum ended their set with “Relapse”, the second track off their self-titled album and the band ended it with a bang. Jenkins continued to hardcore dance on stage when he wasn't screaming in the mic, and the fans took this final chance to finish crowd surfing and moshing. The band called for a circle pit and the whole pit ran around in a circle during Seijas’ short, metallic guitar solo and then broke into another two-stepping pit. The band concluded their set with a provocative breakdown, doubling down on its already heavy tone for that extra effect in further instigating the increasingly crazy mosh pit. Momentum definitely got the crowd’s blood pumping which helped them get ready for what was about to come for the rest of the night.



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Judiciary is a crossover punk band from Lubbock, Texas and it’s members consist of Jake Collinson (vocals), Kyle Calfin (guitars), Israel Garza (guitars), and Austin Scott-Looney (drums) with Jonah Payne filling in on bass. Judiciary has been a band since 2013 and has released two EPs and two albums to date. Those being The Axis of Equality in 2016, a Split EP with Mortality Rate in 2017, Surface Noise in 2019 and Flesh + Blood in 2023. Their most streamed song is “Overthrone,” which is off their Split EP. The song sits at #1 on Spotify with over 1.192 million streams.


Judiciary

Judiciary started their set with the songs “Blood,” “Engulfed," and “Pure Fury,” with the first two songs being off their 2023 album Flesh + Blood and “Pure Fury” being off their 2017 Split EP with Mortality Rate.


Once the band’s set took off, the front saw crowd surfer  after crowd surfer all on top of each other as security was catching them over the barricade. I’ve never seen crowd surfing begin so fast during a set before and this continued all the way through “Engulfed” and “Pure Fury”. The next song was off the 2019 album Surface Noise, titled “Karma’s Knife,” Collinson ordered the crowd to spin the room and form a circle pit. The whole floor ran around in a circle when the song kicked in accompanied by a shredding guitar solo. Collinson introduced his band and thanked the fans for their energy but wanted them to amp it up more on the next song and demanded that the mosh pit kept moshing, the people up at front jumping on their feet and the people in the back to just vibe with him. The band then played the next song “Paradigm Piercer” and everyone in their respective areas did what they were told to do. The song had a slow start but that changed quickly the band took it up a few notches with heavily distorted riffs and harsh vocals and a wailing guitar solo. The song concluded with a breakdown and the mosh pit was doing what it did best; unleashing chaos.


Collinson shouted out Kublai Khan TX and remarked how it was an honor to support them on this tour as Kublai Khan TX has been a band he has seen live since he was 15 years old. With three more songs left, the band wanted New Jersey to give them everything they had left.


The thrash style riffs indicated the band had got into their next song “Social Crusade”. Collinson called for two steps and warned the crowd from “side to side, everyone was a victim” signaling the song’s violent-inciting breakdown. The floor once again turned into a war zone with everyone clashing into each other and constant crowd surfing, which continued well into the next song “Temple” which was a faster song in comparison to the previous song. The thrash-style riffs and rapid-fire drumming gave the song that speed that aided in getting the crowd's blood pumping.


Judiciary ended their set with the old school song, “The Axis of Equality” which is the title track off their 2016 EP The Axis of Equality. Collinson asked the crowd if they were still with him and if they were, that they had to prove it and they did, especially the old school fans in attendance who sang out loud to every word  that was sung. The song had everything, from two-step riffs to distorted breakdown chugs and even more thrash style riffs all backed up by Scott-Looney’s incredible drum talent and Payne’s beefy bass tone. Judiciary succeeded in getting a little more out from the crowd, but the next band was about to make them take it to the next level.



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Next up was the Bay Area-based beatdown band Sunami. Sunami hails from San Jose, California and was formed in 2019. The band is signed to Triple B Records and consists of Josef Alfonso (vocals), Mike "Durt" Durrett (guitar), Theo Dominguez (bass) and Benny Eissmann (drums). The band initially started out as a one-time joke project, releasing a demo in 2019 parodying the ignorance that was presented in many hardcore bands. The band would then play what was supposed to be their only show on October 26, 2019 at a refugee center in San Jose. Footage of the show went viral on Twitter because of its depiction of violent moshing and dancing in a small living room, giving the band its reputation for being violent. This resulted in the band being offered spots on multiple festivals such as FYA Fest and Sound & Fury. Because of this traction, the band had decided to continue on as a full time project and has since then three EPs in 2020, 2021 and 2022, followed by the release of their debut self titled album, Sunami on June 14, 2023.


Sunami

Sunami ignited the chaos with “Gate Crasher,” which is the first track off their 2020 self-titled EP Sunami. The performance kicked off with both the band and the crowd shouting the band’s infamous slogan out in unison “SUNAMI STYLE B*TCH” and after that, fans wasted no time as they opened the pit up and ignited the violence the band’s shows are notorious for having.


Security was once again put to work as soon as the crowd surfing started on the next song “Six” and let me tell you, the crowd surfing came in huge numbers. The band then called out the police on the song “Contempt of Cop,” an anti-police song off the 2019 demo. Alfonso led into the song by stating “We maybe in New Jersey, but I don’t care where you’re from, it’s always f**k the police” and the pit erupted at the sound of the song's heavy opening riffs. Everyone was screaming the words back and Alfonso stopped and let the crowd scream out “1-8-7 on a P-I-G”, which then led into the song’s first slow breakdown. Chaos was in effect for the entire song but it got even more intense once the ending breakdown hit, with the pit full of hardcore dancers and crowd surfers piling on top of each other, being on the floor was an adventure for those who were just standing there. The ending breakdown was accompanied by Eissmann’s rolling double kicks that helped give the breakdown that extra grit.


The next two songs “Feds Watchin” and “I Don’t Care” saw the whole pit two-stepping and for “Die Slow”, the band slowed it down. However, like in most cases with hardcore, slower songs tend to be the heavier ones and “Die Slow” was no exception. The song was filled with slow breakdowns which instigated the pit to go into a frenzy and even the song sped up at one point, leaving room for two steppers to get involved.


The band had two more songs left and Aflonso demanded the crowd to step it up before transitioning into the next song titled exactly that, “Step Up." The opening riff indicated it was indeed time to step it up. The song had everything from two-stepping riffs, blast beat drumming, harsh vocals from Alfonso and a devastating breakdown at the end that gave the pit the opportunity to cause more mayhem than they already had. 


Sunami concluded their set with their most popular song, “Weak Die First,” which is off their 2019 Demo. Fans know when the song is coming by the sound of its opening segment which is an audio taken from the movie Jamesy Boy. The crowd was shouting the intro back to the band before going into a frenzy when the song kicked in. The fans were singing along word-for-word to the entire song moshing as hard as they could. Sunami ended with one last slow breakdown and with rapid fire double bass drums and death growls from Alfonso to accompany it, the band went full on death metal-deathcore for a few brief seconds with Starland Ballroom becoming a war zone. Sunami brought the wild side out of New Jersey but the night was not close to over yet, as the main event was about to come on.



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It’s the end of the night and now it’s time for the one and only Kublai Khan TX. Kublai Khan TX is a hardcore/metalcore band from Sherman, Texas that was formed in 2009. The band consists of Matthew Honeycutt (vocals), Nolan Ashley (guitar/vocals), Eric English (bass) and Isaac Lamb (drums), and their sound is often classified as a combination of heavy hardcore mixed with old school 90s metalcore. As of right now, the band has released four studio albums, Balancing Survival and Happiness in 2014, New Strength in 2015, Nomad in 2017 and Absolute in 2019, and is known lyrically for touching on social issues such as racism, anxiety, police brutality and domestic abuse. On March 21, 2024, the band release their latest single “Low Tech” and it currently sits at #4 on Spotify with over 950,000 streams.


Kublai Khan TX

Kublai Khan TX kicked off their set with “Theory of Mind,” a single that was released on April 25, 2023. The song is one of the band’s most successful songs, having gone viral on TikTok with users dancing to the song’s opening words “Monkey see, monkey do, so who the f*ck made you?”. The viral success of “Theory of Mind” has the song landing on #2 on Spotify with over 5.4 million streams which is an incredible feat for a song that’s almost a year old.


Fans in the pit wasted no time doing the “Theory of MindTikTok dance once the song kicked in and others started to sing along as well. Ashley had a lot of energy on stage and was throwing kicks and hammering away with his heavy riffs on the song. Crowd surfing commenced during “Loyal to None” and “Resentment," ending “Loyal to None” with a rapid fire, machine gun sounding breakdown that only spelled disaster for everyone in the pit. For the song “Swan Song,” a song that touches on domestic violence off the EP The Lowest Form Of Animal and features Terror vocalist Scott Vogel, Jenkins from Momentum came on stage and covered for Vogel’s parts. Both Honeycutt and Jenkins traded off vocals to each other with the crowd following suit. 


Kublai Khan TX
Kublai Khan TX

Prior to going on tour, Kublai Khan TX released a new song called “Low Tech” on March 21 and the whole performance of the song was a two-stepping galore. Honeycutt cut a speech about the band’s longevity and how they were underpaid, under appreciated and underrated which a lot of people could relate to and dedicated the next song “Us & Them” to those people. The song opened up with Honeycutt’s angry harsh vocals backed up by a crescendo beat from the instruments that then broke into another two-stepping pit. Towards the end of the song, Adam Easterling, the vocalist of the metalcore band Orthodox, came on stage and provided guest vocals on the song’s bridge. Easterling’s vocals are very raspy and angsty which fit perfectly on this angry song about expressing frustration over people who think you owe them something when they’ve done nothing for you. The next song was called “The Truest Love” which the band dedicated the song to single parents and happy families that struggle and sacrifice everything to provide for their kids. 


Kublai Khan TX

The band’s next song was “Self Destruct” which is off their 2019 album Absolute. The crowd led the band into song by screaming out the opening lyric “ABSOLUTE!” and then proceeded to break out into a two-stepping pit and crowd surfing frenzy. The song concluded with one more chant that Honeycutt allowed the crowd to scream back to him which was the album title “SELF-DESTRUCT,” ending the song with English’s distorted bass outro. Mathew Honeycutt is one of the best vocalists in hardcore and metalcore. He showcased powerful raspy vocals and would often bark in the middle of songs to instigate the pit. Honeycutt gave a quick shoutout to all of the other bands that played and demanded to hear everyone’s voice on the next song.


The next song was the anti-police anthem “True Fear,” which touches on the serious subject of police brutality. Honeycutt sang this song with pure rage and aggression and would often change the lyrics live. In its studio version, the second verse is a police officer asking the question “Do you even speak English? Are your tattoos gang affiliated?” to which Honeycutt responds with “No I’m just trying to get home, search my sh*t let me go” but when sung live, he changes the lyrics to “I’m just trying to get home to my family, like i do every night” which makes the line more evocative. A personal song to some people, the crowd obliged Honeycutt’s earlier demand and shouted out every single word that was sung. 


The band had two songs left and they didn’t bother to do the encore-cliche that the majority of bands do, instead they just stayed on stage and got right into “The Hammer.” The crowd gave it everything they had left, using whatever they had remaining of their voice to sing the entire song and used their leftover energy to mosh as hard as they could. In addition to the main mosh pit that happened in the middle, another mosh pit formed in the back by the stairs which I almost walked into because I didn’t expect there to be another one. It was a smaller one but it was still just as chaotic as the main one with moshers pushing into each other.


There was no break after “The Hammer” ended and without hesitation, Kublai Khan ended their set with the mosh pit song “Antpile.” “Antpile” is the one of the band’s shortest song and only has two lines in it, “SH*T!” and “SON OF A B*TCH” with the rest of the song being filled with heavy, instigating breakdowns and down tuned riffs. The song is the band’s most popular one because of its way of making the pit go as hard as they possibly can. The show ended with a bang during “Antpile” as both mosh pits went into a frenzy with dancers throwing their arms in every direction they could. 



Kublai Khan TX has been a band for 15 years and it’s incredible to see how far they have come in recent years. They went from playing small bars to selling out headlining tours and packing out theaters and playing major festivals. The band will be appearing at Sick New World festival on April 27 in Las Vegas, Nevada, playing alongside System Of A Down, Slipknot, Bring Me The Horizon, Sleep Token, Lamb of God and many many more. They will then begin Part Two of their headlining tour on May 10 alongside Harms Way, Pain of Truth, Lionheart and Justice For The Damned, and just recently announced an Australian headlining tour for August alongside Terror, Guilt Trip, and Splinter. For Kublai Khan TX, there is nowhere else but up and I can’t wait to see what’s next for the Texas quartet.


Kublai Khan TX

Kublai Khan TX

Kublai Khan TX

KEEP UP WITH KUBLAI KHAN TX: WEBSITE | FACEBOOK | INSTAGRAM | X | YOUTUBE | SPOTIFY

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