November 6th, 1994. The bill was set to be Sick Of It All, Shelter and Snapcase at City Gardens in Trenton, New Jersey. This was a pretty stacked bill for the time. All three bands were regularly headlining their own shows all over the country and any of them could have headlined this particular show at City Gardens.
Sammy had played drums on Shelter’s first tour four years earlier and was returning to play for them again. Tim Brooks from BOLD was playing bass in Shelter at this point, as well. This Shelter lineup alone made things pretty interesting but what was getting even more interesting were the rumors that started floating around. Word on the street was that Walter was going to join Shelter on stage that night and a Youth Of Today reunion was going to happen.
On the day of the show, I remember pulling up in front of City Gardens and both Ray and Porcell walking over to my car and sticking their heads inside my open windows. They were all smiles. Although I hadn’t talked to either of them since the rumor started circulating, they knew that I knew and they looked to be just as excited about it as I was.
Shelter played a stellar set to a raging crowd but as their set was winding down, I was preparing for what was about to be bestowed upon us. I took a spot on the left side of the stage. I knew that no matter what, when that first song started, I wanted a clear path off that stage and into that crowd. Out of nowhere, Walter takes the stage and Tim Brooks steps aside. Half the crowd that was in the know was waiting with bated breath, while the other half stood around looking confused.
Then it happened, “We’re back!” From there on out, it was a blur of chaos with bodies flying everywhere and voices shouting every lyric. I ran off the stage like I was attacked by a swarm of bees, smashed into people, dove into the crowd, then I recall more and more bodies falling on top of me. Eventually I pulled myself out of the melee, climbed back on stage and quickly dove off again. The songs flew by and I tried to soak it all in, but before I knew it, it was over. I remember coming out of that set feeling exhausted, beaten up, with little voice left but knowing I had just witnessed something very special.
It took 21 years, but thanks to Sammy Siegler, we here at DCXX present to you, not only the video from this monumental moment in time, but the memories surrounding it from all four members. Huge thanks to Sammy for digging out this gem and digitizing it for us and also to Ray, Walter, Porcell and Sammy again, for contributing and making this all happen. -Tim DCXX
“Playing with Walter, Sammy and Porcell was simply a magical line up. I can’t describe it but it was definitely a case where our value together was worth so much more than ourselves separately. There was such a buzz that night and when we were going to get on stage you could energetically feel it. I remember all these kids were coming up to me all night before we played…but when we actually got on the stage I remember specifically thinking, “wow this is special. This is going to be incredible.” As far as bands go, the members are like ingredients of a recipe. There are some recipes where if you put the right things together something wonderful happens. That was exactly the case with that Youth Of Today line up.”
“It’s interesting to me now how long the five years between Youth Of Today’s last show in 1989 and this show felt at the time. It felt like a lifetime. We had all gone on to do very different musical projects and had grown a lot as people in the interim, as had much of our audience. But as soon as Sam clicked off “Flame Still Burns” we all knew what to do. It was completely back on. We had lived and breathed these songs and the ideals they represented for years: straight edge, vegetarianism, racial equality, sexual equality and “to create a more conscious, caring society.” As uncontroversial as those messages may seem today, we were attacked for promoting them at every turn, even by many of those who agreed with us. In truth these people never bothered us because we had better mosh parts than they did and that’s what counted. We only played a handful of songs here but I remember it well. City Gardens had an amazing atmosphere and the scene there had been a second home for us. Very fond memories.”
“Youth Of Today was basically the most important band I’ve ever played in. Ray Cappo is one of the best frontmen of all time. Porcell was like my big brother. Walter is a super talent. I have a lot of great history with those guys. I’ve been lucky to play in some cool bands but Youth Of Today was always an important one. City Gardens was always a big deal, I was young and the place always felt huge. That brief Youth Of Today reunion set was magical. Kids went berserk – it could have been ’88 for all I knew. I had been pretty spent after playing a full Shelter set, once I heard “WE’RE BACK!” the adrenaline kicked in and I was all good…”
“I remember when Craig left Youth of Today in 1987, those were some big shoes to fill. Craig went nuts on stage and even more than the physicality of it, he was genuinely moved by the music and the message. We needed somebody like that. I was in charge of getting the actual band together so the first person I thought of was Walter. He was the clean cut kid from Queens singing his heart out to every song when we played. Like his life depended on it. That was our guy. I risked having to fight Raybeez to grab Walter out of Warzone. It all worked out in the end because Walter was way more Youth Crew than Lower East Side anyway. And he was the piece of the puzzle we needed.
Then the band broke up briefly, and Mike Judge didn’t come back on drums. I mean, seriously, who can replace The Judge? He wasn’t the greatest drummer but he made up for it in presence. I was considering getting Sammy but I just assumed that since he was so young he wouldn’t cut it musically. One Sunday afternoon I went early to CBGB’s for a Side By Side show and at soundcheck, even though Sammy didn’t know – that was his tryout for Youth Of Today. And seriously, Sammy just killed it. Somehow or another in just a few short months that little kid turned into a powerhouse. Youth Of Today with a 14 year old drummer – it was almost too perfect.
It’s always being debated, but personally I think the Walter/Sammy lineup was Youth Of Today’s strongest. And when we stood on that City Gardens stage again, with those four pieces of the puzzle in place, it just happened. That’s the beauty of music: when key personalities get together and things blend and synergy happens. There was definitely some magic in the air that night.”