Archive | March, 2014

The Unconditional Tour

17 Mar

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On 3/5/14, sacrificing the convenience of not having to hold a massive winter jacket for the duration of a heavy, sweaty, metalcore concert, I was able to get in the second row at Irving Plaza. So close to the barricade, yet so far away. Admittedly the pictures are a bit dark (but we’ll just blame Irving’s poor lighting), but hey – at least they’re close. After successfully avoiding the long line of ticket holders by standing in the will call line, I was in the second row for the entirety of the show.

The opener was Beartooth, the new band of Caleb Shomo (ex Attack Attack!) and members of My Ticket Home. Though they only had about a third of the stage to work with, they utilized it well, jumping around and standing on the crowed for some of the songs. The final song was played with lead singer Shomo stage diving into the crowd and then being brought back to the stage via crowd surfing.

Next was Hands Like Houses, a six piece band from Canberra, Australia. Roughly grouped as a post hardcore band, they are definitely one of the big up and coming bands of 2014 (in my own humble opinion). They played several tracks from their new album Unimagine, along with several classics from their previous release Ground Dweller. However the lighting for their entire stage was incredibly dark, making it difficult to get any distinguishable photos. Hearing the softer songs “Developments” and “No Parallels” live for the first time was in itself a beautiful experience. Lead singer Trenton Woodley’s vocals were splendid as usual, soaring and dipping, hitting all of the intricate highs and lows present in their songs.

Next was A Skylit Drive, who were able to use a little bit more of the space, bringing out risers to put on the front half of the stage. Almost all of their setlist was from their new album Rise, which, don’t get me wrong, is an excellent album, but it was disappointing for fans of their previous releases, like myself. My personal favorite, Identity On Fire,  saw no love on their setlist, and Wires…And The Concept of Breathing received just one song. Nevertheless they put on a stellar performance, and lead vocalist Jag has only improved since they first started back in 2008. He too jumped in the crowd for their final song, and I was lucky enough to snap a few pictures.

The Word Alive informed the crowd that they were working on a new album, and debuted a song called “Play the Victim,” which is soon to be officially released. They really got the crowd going, starting several circle pits, with the epitome of the energy happening during their song “2012,” most definitely a crowd pleaser. Lead singer Telle showed off his vocal prowess, shifting easily between powerful screams and cleans. They closed with “Life Cycles,” a crowd chanting anthem that ended with Telle getting into the crowd, giving high fives to fans as he returned to the stage.

The headliner Memphis May Fire understandably had the most impressive lights for their set, able to finally utilize the entire stage. They are known for performing well live, and lead singer Matty Mullins did not disappoint that evening. They included a couple of much older songs, including one from their album Sleepwalking, circa 2009. When performing “Miles Away,” Jag from A Skylit Drive came onstage to do vocals in place of Kellin Quinn, and he and Matty performed it beautifully in the glow of an intense blue and purple lightshow.

This was definitely one of my favorite shows of the year so far, made better by being able to see several of my favorite bands on the same lineup, and being so incredibly close to the stage.

The American Dream Tour

10 Mar

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On 2/28, I was, once again, without camera, but have to say I’m pretty satisfied with what my phone did manage to capture. I went to Best Buy Theater for The American Dream Tour, enduring an hour in the literally freezing cold before managing to get inside. The venue was packed for the night’s sold out show. After a long period of confusion, during which the crowd managed to spot BryanStars in the balcony, Northlane was finally on as the opener. The Sydney based metalcore band had a strong set, closing with “Quantum Flux,” a definite crowd pleaser. Next was ISSUES, featuring a bright neon stage set up on their equipment. They played songs from their new album, including “The Settlement” and “Stingray Affliction.” Tyler Carter’s vocals have only gotten better since his days in Woe, Is Me, as have Michael Bohn’s. They had a live turntable set up for the scratches and electronic components of their songs, manned by Ty Acord. They had an energetic set, which, for myself and most of the crowd, felt much too short.

Next was Of Mice & Men, with a backdrop of their new album artwork for Restoring Force. They had a mix of songs from their new album as well as The Flood, but disappointingly, songs from their self-titled were nowhere to be seen. Aaron Pauley proved his vocal capabilities on both their new and old songs, and singer Austin Carlile’s stage presence was powerful and interactive as always. Their set too felt too short, but they managed to pack an immense amount of energy into a short amount of time. The crowd had been becoming progressively more aggressive during this time, and during Bring Me The Horizon’s soundcheck people were rushing to leave the sea of people. They opened from behind a large sheet that had previously been behind Of Mice & Men’s backdrop, using strobe lights and smoke to create shadows from behind the sheet. Oli Sykes chastised the crowd’s use of their phones during the first part of the set, encouraging that we live in the moment instead of behind our screens. They used smoke and confetti cannons throughout their set, along with a fast paced light show in the background. They closed with “Sleepwalking” and more blasts from the confetti cannon, putting on a frenzied, high energy show as always.

People have criticized Sykes’s live performance in the past, but his vocals on the new album Sempiternal certainly prove how much his range and vocal quality have improved, along with how dynamic they truly are. Having seen both Of Mice & Men and Bring Me The Horizon before this review may be admittedly biased, but this was truly an incredible show, and the next day’s soreness was most definitely worth it.

Touché Amoré

5 Mar

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On 2/26, I found myself at (Le) Poisson Rouge to see Caravels, Seahaven, mewithoutYou, and Touché Amoré. In the hopes of being able to photograph I called them, only to be told that “no cameras with removable lenses would be allowed.” Turns out that there was no bag check, and I definitely could’ve brought, or at least snuck in, my camera. All camera related disappointment aside, the show was an incredible one, as to be expected.

Caravels, a self described post-hardcore band from Henderson, Nevada opened first, a five-member band with a focus on shouted vocals. After that came four-member Seahaven, from Torrance, California. They are along the same strains as Brand New and Citizen, and closed their set with the slow, heartfelt track “Honeybee.” Next was mewithoutYou, who managed to combine sleigh bells and acoustic guitar with spoken word and screaming in an eclectic mix. Parallels can easily be made with La Dispute, as they share a very similar sound.

The pit at this point was fully open, and had spread around to the entire front half of the crowd. Finally Touché Amoré was on, and the excitement from the crowd could definitely be felt. Though there were some technical difficulties with the microphone, lead singer Jeremy Bolm managed to power through, with the crowd shouting along every lyric. For such a powerful vocalist, his stage presence by contrast is extremely humble and reserved, only to be replaced moments later by his blistering screaming. This was most certainly the most energetic and intense show I’ve ever been to, but this was no surprise. I left with an even greater appreciation of the bands that had performed that night, along with the hardcore genre itself.

INTER ARMA, KEN Mode, Russian Circles

3 Mar

INTER ARMA

KEN Mode

KEN Mode

KEN Mode

Russian Circles

Russian Circles

(All photos from the show can be found here.)

On 2/20 I went to the Bowery Ballroom to shoot INTER ARMA, KEN Mode, and Russian Circles. I will admit I had no previous knowledge about these bands, but after a quick perusing online I discovered they were roughly in the genre of metal. I went in with an open mind, as I had no clue what to expect. INTER ARMA is hard to put into a genre, but they’re classified as “sludge” and “black” metal. Regardless, it was a great performance, and eventually the crowd warmed up to them and started to become more involved in the music.

Next was KEN Mode, a Canadian hardcore noise rock band, which for only three members had an impressively large sound. The trio works together incredibly well, balancing rapid-fire beats with blistering vocals. The headliner, Russian Circles, was a Chicago based three-piece band, with an instrumental rock and metal sound, and uniquely no vocalist. Their set up featured an extensive pedal board for both the bass and guitar, which allowed for a multitude of sampling and looping throughout the live performance. For a metal band, all of the members look surprisingly “un-metal,” and from appearances only they could very likely pass as an indie outfit. Overall, they displayed their technicality and musicianship very well, and their ambient sound closed out the sold out Bowery Ballroom.

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