Concert Review

Review: The Natural Born Killers Tour @TheRex Pittsburgh (Emmure, Counterparts, King 810, Variables)

The first time I encountered the band Emmure was when they were on the Metal Alliance Tour.  The frontman had an NYC attitude with a fantastic guttural voice, the music was fairly heavy, and the crowd seemed entertained.  Six years have gone by and Emmure’s lineup has changed multiple times, their music has evolved in different ways, and my personal encounters with lead singer Frankie Palmeri have been along the lines of mania; they range from extremely good to horrifically bad.  But everyone evolves and Palmeri seems to have evolved in all the best directions, both personally and professionally.  Last night’s gig at the small venue Rex Theater in Pittsburgh proved that Palmeri (the only original in the band) is looking toward the future and has learned much from the past.

Headlining a brutal metalcore lineup, Emmure hit the stage all business opening with “You Asked For It”.  Touring their latest release, Look At Yourself, the band had become somewhat of a Nu-Metal influenced Metalcore band.  One would have to be deaf to not hear the influence of Korn, Limp Bizkit, and Deftones bleed through their sound, but rather pissed off than melancholy.  If nothing, Frankie is extremely passionate, and that comes through on stage and on tape, especially alongside the solid group since 2017 of guitarist Josh Travis(GLASS CLOUD, ex-THE TONY DANZA TAPDANCE EXTRAVAGANZA), bassist Phil Lockett(ex-THE TONY DANZA TAPDANCE EXTRAVAGANZA) and drummer Josh Miller (ex-GLASS CLOUD).  Josh sounds absolutely amazing and combined with Frankie’s hip-hop style metal lyricism and a crushing groove from Lockett and Miller, Emmure is more solid now than ever.  The band sticks to the Emmure formula of non-complicated guitar, no-frills vocals, and tuned to the floor low ends and the nearly sold-out audience was appreciative of sticking to what works.

All photos AWeldingphoto ○2018

Counterparts are no strangers to Pittsburgh, but it must have been a bit since they played a no barrier venue.  Inviting the crowd to jump with abandon off the stage and take turns with vocals at times, The Rex went absolutely nuts making it have the crazy atmosphere of shopping during Black Friday.  The energy was palpable and Counterparts fed off of it like hungry wolves.  In fact, by the end, they declared that it was one of the best if not the best show they ever had.  I would have to agree.  Vocalist Brendan Murphy (once again, the only original member) led the crew of Adrian Lee (rhythm guitar), Blake Hardman (lead guitar), Kyle Brownlee (drums), Tyler Williams (bass, backing vocals) to get the crowd in a frenzy for the entire set.  One might say that Counterparts stole the show and that argument would be very hard to refute.

The band King 810 of Flint, Michigan was a perfect fit for the tour.  Often described as nu-metalcore, the band has certainly had their share of controversy.  Often using violent imagery and lyrics, the band has been criticized heavily, not only for their imagery but for incidents of weapons charges, shows out of control, kicked out of venues, and at one point a video being kicked off YouTube.  The band recently launched Part 1 of ‘THIS IS KING,’ an episodic documentary piece which gives fans an unfiltered look into their lives and performances. For future episodes of ‘THIS IS KING,’ fans can subscribe to the band’s YouTube (ironically enough).

As reported earlier by this blog,  PHub, the premier online destination for adult entertainment, debuted the NSFW music video for “La Petite Mort.” The clip is the first to incorporate on-screen sex in an 8-minute long music video. The video, which was shot in Los Angeles and directed by the band’s own David Gunn, is a provocative piece of erotica featuring adult film stars Jenna Foxx, Jasmine Summers, Amber Ivy, Lily Jordan, Alex Legend and Jake Jace. “La Petite Mort,” which refers to “The Little Death” (the sensation of orgasm as likened to death), is matched with explicit visuals in the official video conjuring the darkness and desperation of sexuality.

“A lot of the ideas for our videos came together in the songwriting process. This one was no exception,” said Gunn. “The record touches on sex in a lot of ways. It used to be that sex and rock and roll went hand in hand, but that archetype has been reconstructed over the years to make way for a safe/tame/boring/politically correct culture, which we have never belonged to. It’s sad that something so inherent and necessary has become taboo, but we have done what we always do and that is to follow the art wherever it must go regardless of how uncharted the territory may be.”

Gun n and co. brought their intense performance to Pittsburgh last night but performed as bass, drums, vocalist, and computer (handling the guitar duties).  Personally, I’m not a massive fan of this use of computers replacing an instrument rather than being just an enhancement to the music, but it was unclear at press time what the reasoning might be for this.  The style of singing is more of a talk/rap (Gunn also raps under his surname) combined with serious low-end guitars and blunt drums.  Just watch the video for Alpha & Omega and you can get an idea of how intense the band is.  As controversial and polarizing as the band can be, they certainly put their heart and soul into their performance and although very dark in lighting was very interesting at a minimum and highly impressionable, to say the least to what was, unfortunately, a short set.

Varials out of Philly opened the show with a sound that has been described as, “augment an airtight assault of metallic unpredictability and hardcore spirit with poetic punchlines and lyrical storytelling that wouldn’t be out of place on a Kendrick Lamar verse”(Fearless Records).  Fan faves “Deadweather” and “Stigmata” were definite standouts and they were an excellent choice to get the evening started.