Wage War rolled into town as part of The Manic 2023 tour, along with supporting acts nothing,nowhere. and Spite, and captivated an enthusiastic crowd during a killer set at the Fillmore in Silver Spring, Maryland, May 16. From the moment the lights dimmed and the first note of “Relapse” resonated through the venue, it was clear this was going to be a memorable night.
Within seconds of taking the stage, Wage War’s raw power and intensity captivated the audience, which erupted into a frenzy with bodies colliding as fans let loose to the band’s relentless energy. There was such an an overwhelming prevalence of crowd surfers that security removed the photographers from the pit after just one song as a safety precaution. While that’s obviously less-than-ideal for concert photographers on assignment, it illustrates just how raucous the environment became in an instant.
Last year, vocalist Briton Bond, guitarists Seth Blake and Cody Quistad, bassist Chris Gaylord and drummer Stephen Kluesener were honored as one of SiriusXM’s “Future 5 of 2022,” and it’s easy to see why.
Throughout the set, Wage War flawlessly blended their heavier tracks — such as “Stitch” and “Low” — with melodic interludes, showcasing an impressive versatility as musicians. Songs like “Gravity” and “Godspeed” allowed the crowd to catch their breath momentarily, while still maintaining an undeniable heaviness that kept the energy levels high. The hooks were infectious, and fans could be seen singing along with genuine passion.
The energy throughout the 19-song, 90-minute set was electric and the band fed off of it, delivering a performance that was both relentless and captivating. The stage production was also impressive, with an intense light show and smoke machines that enhanced the atmosphere. The strong visuals added an extra layer of intensity and excitement to the already explosive performance.
After concluding their initial set, the Ocala, Florida rockers returned to the stage to deliver a stripped-down rendition of “Johnny Cash” that was easily the highlight of the night. While their entire album The Stripped Sessions is a fantastic change of pace, the tribute to “The Man in Black” is definitely the standout. Hearing Bond and friends perform the acoustic track in person was worth the price of admission alone.
As the final notes of the band’s massive hit “Manic” reverberated through the venue, it was readily apparent Wage War had left an indelible mark on everyone in attendance. The band’s ability to seamlessly blend heavy aggression with melodic hooks and emotionally charged lyrics is what sets them apart from their peers. Clearly their particular brand of music, regardless of whether you care to characterize it as metalcore, hard rock or something else entirely, resonates with audiences. Don’t believe me? Then feel free to crowd surf your way to one of their shows the next time Wage War is in town.