10. Cloak/Dagger and Scanner Freaks and Police & Thieves, Jan. 13, Black Cat Backstage

Top to bottom, this bill at Black Cat’s Backstage was the best hardcore show I had a chance to see this year — granted I worked too late to catch Cloak/Dagger and Police & Thieves open for F***ed Up and Vivian Girls a couple of months ago. Staying in line with the introductory theme of their debut LP, "We Are," Cloak/Daggers opened the set with a furious announcement, "Daggers Daggers," a short hardcore burst of "We are daggers and we don’t care! We just did it for the money!" from the "Piñata Breaks" seven-inch. Screaming Dagger Jason Mazzola set the tone, flailing his all-American (read: beer-bellied) body about the stage in a "Loveless" T-shirt — a word that fits with the band’s themes but a sound contrary to this sort of music. From there on out, the band focused on material from "We Are," the best hardcore record of ’07, quickly addressing the incessant theme of non-conformity that runs through the LP. Scanner Freaks share Cloak/Dagger’s love of ’90s San Diego punk and early hardcore, but they don’t venture too much to the West, preferring to stay right in D.C. They are the D.C. band that best rivals what the Richmond headliner is doing, but their sound fit better with Dischord post-hardcore. Scanner Freaks guitarist John Riley was the hardest working man in hardcore Sunday, pulling double duty, as he also is a member of like-minded Police & Thieves, who started things off with an intense, short set of hardcore falling somewhere in between San Diego and D.C. — but not anywhere near the Midwest.

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