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.