All posts in concerts

29Jul

Beartooth at MECU Pavilion

Since forming Beartooth a decade ago, frontman Caleb Shomo has made a name for himself as one of the go-to voices of hard rock today. The anger, the rage and, most noticeably, the piercing vocals have elevated the Columbus, Ohio, native and his band to the top of the genre.

With a string of hits — including “Devastation,” “The Past Is Dead” and “Skin” — off of their last album, Below, and a brand-new single titled “Riptide,” Beartooth set out on tour with A Day To Remember and Bad Omens. As luck would have it, I was able to catch their first stop on the tour bassist Oshie Bichar, lead guitarist Zach Huston, rhythm guitarist Will Deely, drummer Connor Denis and Shomo lit up the stage in Baltimore.

With some bands, seeing them in concert ruins the aura as you quickly discover that their sound is heavily manufactured in a recording studio and that, in reality, the live product fails to live up to the songs you know and love from their album. Beartooth fans need not worry, Shomo’s trademark screams clearly do not require any assistance and, in fact, the entire band brought their ‘A game” for Charm City. In fact, Shomo and friends went so hard, it’s tough to imagine they’re going to be able to maintain this level of excellence for an entire tour.

28Jul

Bad Omens at MECU Pavilion

It’s completely fitting that the first band I’ve had the pleasure of covering twice this year is Bad Omens. Not only did they absolutely kill it when I covered their show with Underoath and Spiritbox back in March, but THE DEATH OF PEACE OF MIND is undoubtedly my favorite album of 2022.

The Richmond, Virginia-based band dropped its third studio album a day before my birthday and it’s been in constant rotation ever since. The opportunity to hear Noah Sebastian’s piercing vocals tear into “ARTIFICIAL SUICIDE” contrasted by the melodic flow of a track like “The Grey” was simply too good to pass up.

While it was slightly jarring to see them perform in broad daylight compared to the dark and brooding mood of their previous set, Bad Omens’ intensity and sound works in any setting. And my complements to the chef … or whoever is responsible for pairing Bad Omens with A Day To Remember and Beartooth. They’re very clearly three of the best bands in hard rock today, and catching them all on the opening night of their new tour was a blast.

29Jun

Memphis May Fire at Union Transfer

In conjunction with the release of their seventh studio album, Memphis May Fire embarked on a 30-show, cross country tour with the help of some notable friends. Along with From Ashes to New, Rain City Drive and Wolves at the Gate, the Texas-based quartet hit the road for the SiriusXM Octane Presents The Remade In Misery Tour.

In the main event of the evening, Memphis May Fire wasted no time diving into their hourlong performance, starting with “Blood & Water,” the opening track on their seventh studio album, Remade in Misery, which dropped on June 3. Matty Mullins, Kellen McGregor, Cory Elder and Jake Garland clearly put a ton of time and energy into their latest record, which is littered with numerous singles that’ll be featured on hard rock charts in the coming weeks and months.

While Memphis May Fire will always be known for their hard rock/metalcore sound, the coolest moment of their performance was when they paused to dedicate one of their slower tracks, “Miles Away,” to the men and women who willingly serve in the military and, in Mullins’ words, truly understand what it means to pack up, leave your family behind and follow orders.

28Jun

From Ashes to New at Union Transfer

From Ashes to New were up next and, considering the band was started in Pennsylvania in 2013, it’s safe to say that they were just as excited for the opportunity to play a hometown show as the crowd was to see them live. While From Ashes to New — which is Danny Case (lead vocals), Matt Brandyberry (rap/clean vocals), Lance Dowdle (lead guitar) and Mat Madiro (drums) — have released three studio albums, they also spent much of their pandemic-induced downtime creating a series of Quarantine Chronicles EPs. In short, they have plenty of new material for fans and it showed with their lengthy setlist for the evening.

From Ashes to New’s well-polished performance included several highlights, including their newest single “Heartache” which was recently released. Before diving into “Scars That I’m Hiding,” Brandyberry earned a loud and warm ovation when he said to the crowd: “All the hard work of the last decade means something or if I’m in a popularity contest. You fuckers save me every single night.”

One of the more humorous moments of the evening came when Case exclaimed, “This one goes out to all of you” as he strummed the first notes of “Crazy” on his acoustic guitar. Anyone familiar with the reputation of Philadelphia sports fans completely understood where he was coming from.

27Jun

Rain City Drive at Union Transfer

While Rain City Drive might not necessarily be a household name just yet, it’s safe to say you’ve probably heard of them and are familiar with several of their singles over the years. That’s because, until last year, they were known as Slaves and they’ve been a mainstay on hard rock stations for years.

While Matt McAndrew (lead vocals), Colin Vieira (bass), Weston Richmond (lead guitar), Felipe Sanchez (rhythm guitar) and Zachary Baker (drums) might go by a new name these days, they smartly played a set featuring their biggest hits to remind the packed venue this isn’t their first rodeo. Their setlist for the evening included many of their most well known hits, such as “Waiting On You,” “Talk to a Friend” and “Dreams.”

That said, the standout song from Rain City Drive’s performance in Philadelphia was “Blood Runs Cold,” their upcoming single which will be hitting Octane’s airwaves in the not-too-distant future.

27Jun

Wolves at the Gate at Union Transfer

Before they were announced as part of the SiriusXM Octane Presents The Remade In Misery Tour, I wasn’t very familiar with Wolves at the Gate. After seen them live, I now consider myself a fan.

Christian metal group Wolves at the Gate, which is comprised of rhythm guitarist/clean vocalist Steve Cobucci, bass guitarist Ben Summers, unclean vocalist Nick Detty, drummer Abishai Collingsworth and lead guitarist Joey Alarcon, set the tone early with a high-energy set that raised the bar for everyone taking the stage that evening.

For any hard rock fans who were unfamiliar with Wolves at the Gate, diving into “Peace That Starts the War” and “Lights & Fire” back to back at the top of their set was a brilliant introduction to their sound. As the band took a quick breath midway through their allotted time, Cobucci won the crowd over when he shared, “My kids are 5-years-old and have never seen me play, but they’re here tonight.”

18May

Buckcherry at Tally Ho Theater

Buckcherry could absolutely be the poster child for the quintessential rock band, experiencing the highest of highs and lowest of lows that come with living life on the road in such a volatile occupation.

The Anaheim band, led by frontman Josh Todd, was created in 1995, saw its self-titled debut album earn gold status in ’99 and then, thanks to internal issues, Buckcherry broke up in 2002. And yet, two decades later, the band is touring in support of their ninth-studio album, Hellbound, which was released last June.

With a sound that, at times, has been referred to as sleaze rock, Todd, along with Stevie D. and Billy Rowe on guitar, bassist Kelly LeMieux and drummer Francis Ruiz, are still going strong. Yes, they still roll out their smash hits, like “Crazy Bitch” and “Lit Up,” but newer tracks such as “Hellhound” are worth your time as well.

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