All posts in concerts

21Nov

Atreyu at Rams Head Live!

In honor of their eighth album, “Baptize,” Atreyu embarked on a 29-city tour across the United States.

Considering this was the band’s first album since the departure of lead singer Alex Varkatzas last year, it’s safe to say that some trepidation existed in the world of hard rock. A band fans had known and loved for more than 20 years was making a radical change, with drummer Brandon Saller becoming the new vocalist. Would they still have that same trademark Atreyu sound?

Emphatically, the answer is yes. Both on the album and in person, Atreyu still delivers everything you know and love about them — particular on this random weeknight in November, when they crushed a 17-song set that absolutely proved the newest configuration of the band still delivers. And they definitely still know how to have a good time.

On this night, upon learning that a fan was celebrating her birthday by attending their show, Saller asked her to pull a random song title out of a bowl. Birthday girl Brandy selected “Broken Again,” the seldom-played fifth song off of the album, giving Baltimore a rare performance of the high-energy track.

20Nov

Crown the Empire at Rams Head Live!

When Crown The Empire first formed, their stated goal was to be heavier than other bands from the area. Considering Dallas, Texas is known for many things and hard rock isn’t necessarily one of them, it’s safe to say the high schoolers had modest ambitions in the beginning.

Over the last decade, the boys from Crown The Empire have bucked conventional wisdom of what Texas music sounds like and have proven they absolutely deserve the respect they’ve earned. These days, lead vocalist Andy Leo and Hayden Tree, who plays bass guitar and provides extreme vocals, along with lead guitarist Brandon Hoover and drummer Brent Taddie, have fine tuned their sound and continue to strike a balance between earworm-inducing melodies and metalcore madness.

When they visited Baltimore in November, it began readily apparent that Crown The Empire have fun wherever, whenever. In fact, halfway through their set, Leo informed the crowd that, just before taking the stage, Tree had gotten a new tattoo and a shop right around the corner from the venue. He then encouraged those in attendance to buy the bassist a beverage to celebrate (and possibly numb the pain). So many fans complied that, less than a song later, Tree had to kindly ask folks to stop.

The highlight of the night was when the band broke out their newest single “In Another Life.” While Spiritbox’s Courtney LaPlante was not in the building to provide her vocals, the new track had the building rocking.

19Nov

Tetrarch at Rams Head Live!

Who doesn’t love an inspirational story? Well, gather round boys and girls, because you’re going to dig this one.

A long time ago in a galaxy far, far away (Atlanta, Georgia), two middle school kids decided they wanted to form a band. That, in and of itself isn’t particularly noteworthy, but the self-described outcasts showed a level of discipline and determination that enabled this dynamic duo to actually achieve their adorable childhood goal.

Meet Josh Fore and Diamond Rowe, the lead singer and lead guitarist of Tetrarch. Along with bassist Ryan Lerner and drummer Ruben Limas, the Los Angeles-based band has become a staple of SiriusXM’s Liquid Metal and Octane stations, with their hit single “I’m Not Right” becoming a soundtrack for countless hard rock and metal fans who couldn’t go anywhere or do anything during 2020 (a.k.a. – the year of the pandemic).

If their performance in Baltimore is any indication, things are only getting better and better for Tetrarch. That’s clearly great news for the band and even better for their fans.

18Nov

Saul at Rams Head Live!

During the loneliest times of the COVID-19 pandemic, as the world was stuck at home with no idea when we might see some semblance of normalcy, the saints at SiriusXM had a novel notion. Since music lovers could no longer go to concerts, why not bring concerts to the music lovers? From that simple concept, the Octane Accelerator Virtual Concert series was born. The inaugural event featuring three new hard rock bands: Saul, Any Given Sin and AVOID.

That performance was my official introduction to Saul. While I was familiar with a song or two of theirs beforehand, that was the night I officially became a fan. Less than a year later, I was scheduled to see them in concert, along with Any Given Sin and Nonpoint … until Nonpoint was forced to postpone the show — along with several others — after their vehicle and trailer were involved in an accident.

Finally, two months after that show was postponed and nearly a year after their virtual concert, the stars aligned and I was able to see Saul live. And they did not disappoint. While they only had time to play an abbreviated set, they made the most out of what they were given and set the tone for the rest of the night.

23Oct

Rival Sons at 9:30 Club

They simply don’t make bands like Rival Sons anymore. The music created by this Long Beach, California-based band seems like it should be played in heavy rotation with the likes of Led Zeppelin, Pink Floyd and Deep Purple, as opposed to whatever passes for today’s rock music.

And since Rival Sons has always had a throwback vibe, it’s only fitting that they’re currently touring in celebration of the tenth anniversary of their album Pressure & Time. Starting in September, lead singer Jay Buchanan and friends hit the road on a six-week, 30-stop trek as they played their critically acclaimed, second studio album cover to cover.

Considering the album has amassed more than 40 million streams over the last decade, the Pressure and Time Anniversary Tour is clearly designed to give fans what they want. And anyone who has seen Rival Sons in concert can attest, for as good as they are on vinyl, they’re even better live.

13Oct

NEEDTOBREATHE at The Anthem

The COVID-19 pandemic affected everyone differently. Some people spent their newfound free time learning to bake bread. Some plowed through every binge-worthy television show they could find. And then there’s NEEDTOBREATHE.

Turns out the South Carolina-based rock band made the most of their newfound time – releasing not one, but two albums since the pandemic shut down everything and everyone. Last June, NEEDTOBREATHE dropped their seventh studio album, Out Of Body, and then they surprised everyone by releasing Into The Mystery this past July. 

This came about last fall, when the five members of NEEDTOBREATHE quarantined together in a house in Columbia, Tennessee for three weeks as they wrote, recorded and produced their eighth full-length studio album.

“Normally this would take us three years to do, and we’re gonna try and do it in three weeks,” said front man Bear Rhinehart in the trailer for the band’s upcoming documentary, titled “NEEDTOBREATHE: Into The Mystery.”

Armed with an abundance of new material, the Grammy nominated band hit the road for the first time in two years as they embarked on a 38-city tour, which included a stop in Washington, D.C. 

Their performance at The Anthem that night sent a clear message to the more than 6,000 fans in attendance that they were ready to make the most of their allotted time as they dove headfirst into a two-hour set that included 26 total songs. That show and this band were, as their song says, “What I’m Here For.”

11Oct

Switchfoot at The Anthem

With apologies to friends and loved ones, more than anything during the pandemic, I missed live music. The venues, both big and small. The abundance of emotions and energy from those on the stage as well as those in the crowd. The opportunity to support artists who create the content that resonates so deeply. 

Having all of that abruptly taken away for a year and a half was a gut punch I never saw coming. And now that society is slowly returning to some semblance of normalcy, live music sure does feel like what the doctor ordered. (Well, that and vaccines. But I digress.)

I don’t know for sure, but it feels like the members of Switchfoot were in the same boat. They took to the stage at The Anthem Sunday night as if they were making up for lost time, and then proceeded to put on an amazingly captivating performance. Let me say without hesitation or reservation – nobody is having more fun than these guys these days.

Switchfoot kicked off their high-energy set with “Where I Belong,” which was fitting after the pandemic robbed us all of concerts and the track clearly clearly connected with the more than 6,000 fans in attendance who agreed with the sentiment. From there, they went right into one of their biggest hits, “Meant to Live” before launching into “Float” with a disco ball, amazing lighting and multiple bubble machines adding to the moment.

By the time they finished their 45-minute set, Switchfoot had absolutely crushed another memorable performance and reminded everyone how the Grammy Award winning band has been able to deliver consistently for more than two decades.

HomerMcFanboy background image