In movies like Taxi Driver and Bringing Out the Dead, Scorsese makes it all look so majestic: The shine of the wet blacktop and sidewalk acts like a mirror, creating a double of every neon sign and stoplight along the stretch of a Manhattan street. In reality the city is not that sexy, and in places like the buzzing Koreatown, the truth is a lot fouler: The city’s not slick with water, in fact the sheen comes from a mix of trash juice and about 1,000 more unnamed discarded liquids.

CREEM is standing in just such an urban cocktail on 32nd Street, sandwiched between towering garbage bags and other groups waiting to be seated at a restaurant, when we finally meet up with Australia’s Speed for dinner at a Korean BBQ spot. This will be the last activity of the day for the band, who landed at seven this morning after 20-plus hours on a plane, so while I can tell they’re hyped to get some meats-over-flame, I can also sense that their energy is dissipating and that our window of full attention is rapidly closing.

Considering the band’s reputation as a high-octane, jaw-clenching hardcore outfit, they must have really gone through the wringer. The Sydney-based quintet first came into the wider consciousness in 2019 with their re-pressed demo exploding during the dawn of COVID. Mixing the fury of ’90s mid-paced hardcore, the vein-bulging terror associated with Infest, and the nihilism of favorites like Crossed Out, the band exploded with a series of music videos, an early EP, and finally the Gang Called SpeedEP, which turned the hardcore world upside down. In an age where all anyone wanted to do was mosh it up (see: Trump administration, BLM, COVID, general malaise), Speed provided an avenue for that.

And tonight, the anticipation is at an all-time high—for the band to play their first East Coast gigs, and for the near mountain of Korean ribs—as we sit down across theopen flame, surrounded by an array of banchan (Korean mini-apps and side dishes). For the record, CREEM’s mind wasn’t so much on the tteokbokki or the japchae but on Speed’s ability to capture the hardcore crowd so quickly and completely—and their future in an ever-changing genre. But instead of getting boasts about the past and big talk about what’s to come, we found ourselves dining with a group of humble, centered individuals. If they weren’t so goddamn sweet and sincere, it would have had me blasting my kimchi over every inch of the table.

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