Phoenix Hardcore Band Lilith Wants to Get Homophobia and Sexism Out of Music Scene
David Accomazzo Sarah McCann of Lilith readies a mighty scream at a May show at Mesa's Nile Theater.
On a sweltering Sunday night in early May, a young-skewing crowd of roughly 50 black-clad hardcore fans packed around the tiny stage in the sweaty basement of the Nile Theater in Mesa. The main attraction of the evening was Georgia screamo band Circle Takes the Square, but this crowd was currently interested in Lilith, a Phoenix band formed in November that was about to start its set.
The stage in the Underground is only a foot off the ground, making the space between crowd and band almost nonexistent. Sarah McCann, the short, 18-year-old singer with bangs, red glasses, and a tattoo of a tarot card on the inside of her left bicep, stands with one foot on the stage and one in the crowd, facing her bandmates. The band starts a slow-building, atmosphere-setting intro.
"When this starts, you might want to be careful with your camera," McCann says with a smile to a photographer standing next to her.
It quickly becomes clear why. The intro ends and the band launches into its first song, one so new it remains unnamed. Without warning, McCann launches onto the stage and spins around, unleashing a guttural scream and pounding back and forth onto the stage and off, shouting lyrics into the mic. Heads and bodies start moving in time to the music, and the band begins a short and furious set.
David Accomazzo Andrew Raffield of Lilith
For a band just seven months old, Lilith has a lot going for it. Its music is dark, aggressive hardcore, capsaicin-laced bursts of rage that recede unpredictably into swampy, sludge-mired breakdowns. McCann's lyrics are both deeply personal and ferociously confrontational, calling out everything from her own personal pain to the boys-only mentality she's encountered as a woman making her way in the local hardcore scene.
Lilith is a band with a message. All five members (joining McCann are drummer Matt Hawkins, 24; guitarist Samad Agwani, 21; bassist Mike Hyde, 24; and guitarist Andrew Raffield, 26) have witnessed homophobia, transphobia, and sexism within the hardcore community, locally and nationally, and they want to spread the opposite point of view.
That message immediately resonated. On March 5, the band released a five-song EP, Bloom, on its Bandcamp page. The next morning, they had a Facebook message from 6131 Records, a hardcore label in Los Angeles that had signed bands like Touché Amoré and
Harm's Way Cruel Hand.
"We hadn't even played our first show," Agwani says. "We released it at 10:30 on Wednesday night, and [on Thursday morning] we just had a message in our inbox saying, 'Hey, this is Sean from 6131, I'd like to get in touch.' It was that fast."