If there’s one thing I love in this world, it’s a good circle pit. They’re hard to come by in San Antonio, but Prevail Within, who’ve been playing hard and fast in this town for several years, are looking to revive this nearly forgotten token of fan appreciation. Hoping for the opportunity to indulge in one of my favorite hardcore pastimes, I laced up my trusty Sauconys and headed over to the Ten Eleven.
Prevail Within takes the stage at 10:45 on the dot with opener “If I Could Breathe.” Singer Brandon Hicks immediately begins to bounce across the end of the stage, spitting witty one-liners and inside jokes to select attendees. I was surprised to hear such a deep ’80s punk howl come from such a tiny man. Hicks knows how to rile the crowd, and the genuineness of his delivery makes even the hardest scenester take notice. Ten Eleven regulars should recognize Hicks and guitarist Jordan Williams as part owners of the venue, giving Prevail Within the distinction of being a kind of de facto house band.
Playing his first show, guitarist Andrew Legri is the victim of numerous good-natured barbs from Hicks, while bassist Tim Sellers rages on the mic with backup vocals and “whoa-ohs” where necessary. Most impressive were the efforts of drummer Jon Harter, whose skill is far above and beyond those of the prototypical punk drummer.
Not content to resign themselves to the punk-rock nihilism of their late-’70s predecessors, Prevail Within evokes strong leftist sentiment with“Screaming Blue at a Red Wall,” and religious uncertainty with closer “Apostasy Rising”.
“An angel tried to save my soul from the devil’s stranglehold,” screams Hicks, “but I still turned my back and walked away.” The band echoes their dedication to their ideals and the scene they’ve helped build by covering the Bouncing Souls’ “True Believers,” the quintessential crowd-pleaser in this setting.
In case you’re wondering, the audience was situated in a way that discouraged courteous moshing, so I was forced to go another night without running a proper circle pit. No complaints though, as Prevail Within gave me nearly everything else I could ask of them. If you’re out looking to get a regular melodic hardcore fix in the vein of Holding On and Reaching Forward, with a side of Gorilla Biscuits and the political chops of Strike Anywhere and Ignite, Prevail Within is the act for you, with or without the circle pit.