Whitechapel @ Mr. Smalls

Supporting Atreyu on their twenty year anniversary tour, Whitechapel made an appearance at Mr. Smalls for the first time since their sophomore album (This is Exile) came out. So yes… it has been quite some time since Millvale has had the luxury of hosting the metal band from Knoxville! With a little bit of a “lighter” lineup than I am used to seeing Whitechapel play with, it was a nice change of pace since it gave everyone the chance to see Phil Bozeman sing clean vocals for three different songs that night.

 

Whitechapel’s latest album, “the Valley,” showed off a different side of Bozeman’s usual vocal style with the addition of clean vocals, which impressed more people than not. Seeing it live though gave an entirely new experience for long time fans attending that night. That being said, it did not take away from the vigorous set Whitechapel is known for playing. Blistering through the first few songs of their set, there was no wasted time as they jumped right into “Forgiveness is Weakness” followed up by “Brimstone” and then one of their more groovy metal tracks, “Black Bear.”

 

When Whitechapel started playing another song off of their newest record, I was surprised to hear them play “Third Depth” and then later on, “Hickory Creek.” Once again, the change of pace gave us a new outlook for them, and I had not a single complaint with the maturity and diversity that this band has started to apply to their song writing capabilities with every record and performance they’ve done. No need to worry though, because they didn’t forget to play a few older songs Monday night (setlist below). So the intensity from their more deathcore style songs wasn’t for a second lost in translation with the new material being played on top of everything.

 

With the relentless touring Whitechapel has been doing over the past year or so, they just seem to keep trucking along without any signs of stopping it seems. If they aren’t headlining, they’re the direct support, and either way the professionalism of this band has always shown why they are always in one of those top two spots. This tour with Atreyu has once again shown that. As Whitechapel continues to tour and support their latest record, one can only imagine what else is in store for them. It is more than safe to say that since Pittsburgh happened to get three separate visits from them since some time last year that we might be waiting awhile until we get to see anymore Whitechapel stage time in the area without traveling outside of the city. Needless to say, I wouldn’t miss the next show for anything!

 

Setlist:

  1. Forgiveness Is Weakness
  2. Brimstone
  3. Black Bear
  4. Third Depth
  5. When a Demon Defiles a Witch
  6. This Is Exile
  7. Hickory Creek
  8. Our Endless War
  9. The Saw Is the Law

Knocked Loose @ Mr. Smalls

By David Mondine

With the release of their latest album, “A Different Shade of Blue,” Pittsburgh lucked out with a second appearance this year from the hardcore band Knocked Loose. Both times were headlining shows, and both lineups were stacked so there was never a disappointing moment. Knocked Loose has always been one of those bands though that multiple people from other touring bands have stated that they will pass everyone up at this rate; so far that has shown very true as they’ve continued to climb the later with their aggressive playing style and diehard fans.

Aside from stories I’ve been told, I was unsure about what kind of experience I would be having seeing Knocked Loose live for the first time at Mr. Smalls. I wasn’t disappointed though I can assure you of that. The crowd was already pretty amped up to begin with thanks to the supporting acts which included a Pittsburgh favorite, Stick to your Guns. But as soon as Knocked Loose came out onto the stage, they came out swinging hard. Barreling through an insane eighteen song set, they played basically their entire new album plus more than handful of others to send the crowd into oblivion. The sure raw intensity of their stage presence would make a lot of bands envious of them I feel.

As Knocked Loose just kept on pummeling the stage, there was really no break or moment where anyone could catch a breath before it all started back up again. From crowd surfers galore to the cyclone of a mosh pit, seemed to me that everyone needed to get out some aggression that night. The only medicine for such a thing just so happened to be Knocked Loose delivering a hard hitting set that which they’ve always done from the looks of it. It is quite interesting to see just how far this band can keep going and who else they can pass up at this rate. One way to find out that’s for sure.

Setlist:

  1. Trapped in the Grasp of a Memory
  2. Intro
  3. All My Friends
  4. Blood Will Have Blood
  5. Belleville
  6. Oblivion’s Peak
  7. By the Grave
  8. Denied by Fate
  9. In the Walls
  10. Guided By the Moon
  11. Mistakes Like Fractures
  12. Forget Your Name
  13. Deadringer
  14. Small Victories
  15. …And Still I Wander South
  16. A Serpent’s Touch
  17. Billy No Mates
  18. Counting Worms

Blink-182 Celebrate 20 Years of “Enema of the State”

Celebrating the 20th anniversary of their hit album “Enema of the State” Blink-182 embarked on a headlining tour with Lil Wayne and Neck Deep while Pittsburgh (Burgettstown) was lucky enough to get a date on this tour.  With some concerns about the weather Saturday night, it shaped up pretty nicely so that there was no delays at all and the show carried on as scheduled.  Due to certain circumstances though, Blink-182 ended up going on second rather than headlining because Lil Wayne’s tour bus broke down and was not at the venue yet.  In some sense, it was a nice change up for the diehard fans who didn’t have to wait as long to see a band that they hold so dear to them.

 

Aside from the absurd amount of additional speakers they brought with them, the stage setup itself was actually very basic for Blink-182 (for the moment) as they ripped through “Enema of the State.”  Drums right up front in the middle of the stage, one mic to each side for Mark and Matt to sing, just a very intimate set up that gave us an old school vibe.  After they were done with playing “Enema of the State” in its entirety, that’s when they added some extra flare to their gig with Travis Barker’s rotating drum setup that was stashed away in the back during the first part of their set.  Wouldn’t expect anything less really from a drummer of that caliber.

 

Finishing up their set with a grand total of 22 songs, a drum solo, and two acoustic songs back by the lawn seats, Blink-182 didn’t disappoint anyone who attended their show that night.  Luckily they were able to perform early that night otherwise it could’ve been a very long night waiting around!  Pittsburgh was only really the start of this tour so there are plenty of other dates to see them given the chance.  Check out the setlist below and maybe that will entice you even more!

 

 

  1. Dumpweed
  2. Don’t Leave Me
  3. Aliens Exist
  4. Going Away to College
  5. What’s My Age Again?
  6. Family Reunion
  7. Dysentery Gary
  8. Adam’s Song
  9. All the Small Things
  10. The Party Song
  11. Mutt
  12. Wendy Clear
  13. Anthem
  14. Down (Mark & Matt acoustic)
  15. Wasting Time (Mark & Matt acoustic)
  16. Drum Solo
  17. Bored to Death
  18. Built This Pool
  19. I Miss You
  20. Cynical
  21. The Rock Show
  22. Dammit

Whitechapel Celebrate 10 Years of This is Exile

Celebrating ten years of their sophomore album “This is Exile,” Whitechapel had Pittsburgh set for the first date on the second leg of the tour alongside fellow deathcore bands Chelsea Grin, Oceano, and Slaughter to Prevail.  Starting off their last tour of the year with a sold-out show is pretty ideal as well, but sets high expectations for the rest of the tour one would think.  Pretty safe to say that having the line to get into Rex Theater wrapping around the entire block is a sign for good night on a Thursday Night down on East Carson Street.

 

Chelsea Grin being the direct support for Whitechapel during this tour was something a lot of people were looking forward to.  The lineup changes they’ve had over the past couple of years did not lead their fanbase astray whatsoever, and getting a taste of what their latest lineup can really do during the Warped tour this past summer helped tremendously it seemed.  Being only a four-piece band now, Chelsea Grin still hit the stage as hard as they ever did.  They’re latest album release helped show that metal music isn’t going away anytime soon for them.  During their set, they played a solid mixture of songs over the course of their career, but mostly songs from their latest album “Eternal Nightmare.”  I was a little upset that they played nothing off of “Ashes to Ashes” but it is understandable that they wanted to promote more of their latest songs rather than some from a few years back.  Having only about an eight-song set doesn’t help as much when you want to cover a fair sized discography in such a short time frame.  Needless to say, Whitechapel was in need of a bigger time slot since they had a lot of plans for this tour it seemed.

 

So let’s start with this, the first time I ever saw Whitechapel was when “This is Exile” first came out…ten years ago now… it sunk in pretty quick that I’m getting old.  Curiosity had struck me that night, because being the first night of the tour, you don’t know what to expect since there is no setlist for the night until that first show, so it was exciting to see what other songs they would pick to play if any.  Starting off the night with frontman Phil Bozeman, running straight out onto the stage to start with the blistering song “Faces” was a nice change of pace.  No opening act, no build up intro, just straight to the good stuff.  Whitechapel then followed up with “Elitist Ones” and “The Saw is the Law.”  Pittsburgh was even the first city to see Whitechapel play their new song “Brimstone” (released that afternoon) before playing “This is Exile” from front to back in its entirety.  Talk about living those high school days again when “Father of Lies” kicked in followed up by the title track, and the fan favorite “Possession.”

 

With “This is Exile” being played in its entirety, I truly forgot how fantastic that album really was.  Songs that I haven’t seen played live in a long time, and most people have never seen at all, just another blast from the past in Pittsburgh.  Whitechapel’s sophomore album really skyrocketed their career in the metal scene, and they’ve never taken a step back since then as not just a band, but musicians.  The album that they are about a release in the spring next year, I wouldn’t expect anything less than well-constructed, heavy hitting riffs, and vocals that will always blow most vocalists out of the water.  So summing it up, celebrating the past that helped define a career is something that I can honestly say was amazing as I expected it to be, but looking forward to what the future holds for this band, is just as good.

 

 

Setlist:

  1. Faces
  2. Elitist Ones
  3. The Saw is the Law
  4. Brimstone
  5. Father of Lies
  6. This is Exile
  7. Possession
  8. To All That Are Dead
  9. Exalt
  10. Somatically Incorrect
  11. Death Becomes Him
  12. Daemon (The Procreated)
  13. Eternal Refuge
  14. Of Legions
  15. Messiahbolical

Review: Parkway Drive and Stick To Your Guns at Stage AE Pittsburgh

A new album, a tour across the United States, what more could you possibly ask for from Epitaph Records golden boys from down under, Parkway Drive.  Pittsburgh just so happened to be on the list this time around, and it is quite humorous because the last time they were here, it was at Altar Bar (R.I.P.).  From Altar Bar to Stage AE is quite the upgrade, the fully packed venue just goes to show how far they have come since they were a small town metalcore band.  Having Orange County’s Stick To Your Guns and Bad Omens on the card definitely helped.  Since that time period, Parkway Drive have definitely matured with their music and have been breaking the barrier of metal music with each and every release.

From the last time Parkway Drive was here to now, expectations were fairly high since they have been really stepping up their game in the performance and props department.  The crazy things they have been adding to their sets have been all over social media and they have been nothing short of spectacular.  Sadly, we did not get to experience all the extra stage props on this tour, but the natural raw performance we did get to experience was something that was well needed.  A lot of bands “oversell” the music with props, so seeing Parkway Drive without the extra props, and seeing them as an actual band who does nothing but constantly raises the bar so far out of reach that they are almost untouchable was more than worth it.

Throughout the night, they played a very odd setlist I felt covering songs from their sophomore album, Horizons, all the way to their latest release, Reverence.  When I say “odd” I mean more along the lines of that they didn’t play all the songs you would expect them to play.  It was kind of nice that the normal everyday setlist was different.  Songs like Boneyards, Idols and Anchors, and Dead Man’s Chest were played rather than Romance is Dead, Deliver Me, Swing, Dark Days, etc.  Fact of the matter is, is that it’s nice to see a band still mixing up their sets to keep people on their toes.

The biggest thing I noticed during their set was this, all of the new songs hit so unbelievably hard live!  Listening to their newer songs in the car doesn’t even come close in comparison to the exact same songs live.  The catchy chorus lines, singalongs, and head banging riffs all at once was just overpowering and you couldn’t help yourself but to give into every demand Winston McCall had on stage.  Luckily all he wanted was for people to jump and scream a lot.  Songs like Vice Grip, The Void, and Prey were huge hits throughout the night because of the intense choruses and such.

Overall, we get to hear some of the best songs Parkway Drive has to offer, Wild Eyes and Carrion are always all time favorites for people, Karma is another great fast song of theirs, Crushed and Bottom Feeder to wrap up the night, a lot of great picks for the night and they went hard for every song.  There’s a reason why they are always nominated for numerous different awards for their work as a band and seeing them live proves every part of it time and time again.  This may be the last time we see them for another couple of years, but I will only expect more from them the next time around, and they always seem to never disappoint in the least.

Stick To Your Guns wasted no time in engaging the crowd at Stage AE opening with the hard-hitting The Sun, The Moon, The Truth: “Penance of Self”.  Jesse Barnett (vox) has a golden throat that can belt hard with the best of them.  It took a bit to get the crowd completely engaged prompting Barnett to say, “You know why I love Pittsburgh?  You make us work for it!”  And work for it they did, entertaining the hell out of their current fans and definitely gaining a ton of new ones who may have never encountered the force that is STYG.

Guitarist Josh James met with us pre-show and post-workout for an interview to discuss all thing True View and much more. Watch here.  Josh’s grueling workout did not keep him from throwing all his energy into the performance as he jumped, sang, played, and generally crushed all.  Along with rhythm guitarist Chris Rawson, Andrew Rose on bass, and George Schmitz on drums the band was extremely tight and packed in a lot of entertainment into the seven-song set (Nobody, Such Pain, Empty Heads, The Reach for Me: “Forgiveness of Self”, Doomed By You, and Against Them All.  STYG never disappoints.

Parkway Drive photos David Mondine © 2018

 

Architects Bring Doomsday to Mr. Smalls

Pittsburgh has already begun its concert season it seems with a wide variety of bands already heading in our direction, and one of the first shows for metalcore/hardcore fans was on the lovely Valentine’s Day this time around.  Needless to say the bands received a lot of love Wednesday night in Millvale for the first North American date for the English band Architects (UK) of 2018.  Joining them on their tour were Stick to your Guns and Counterparts. 

 

Architects have been through hell and back over the past couple of years since the passing of fellow bandmate and founder of the band, Tom Searle.  This left the band in quite the predicament (just as it did for Avenged Sevenfold when Jimmy “the Rev” Sullivan passed away), to either carry on with Tom’s legacy, or hang up their hats and head in a new direction.  The band was able to rejuvenate themselves, and carry on in honor of him.  Continuing to tour seems to have given them new purpose as well.  Watching their performance on Wednesday showed me that they are still very serious and plan to bring the best show they can to the stage.  Though not the most entertaining band to watch, Architects delivers a solid performance time and time again with their tight riffs and on point beats.  Most of their energy goes into their music rather than stage antics.  Though stage antics are fun to watch, sometimes it takes away from the music itself.

 

The setlist for the night was in a rather interesting order one would say.  Where most setlists start off fast, heavy, and energetic, it was more of medium pace start that gradually increased as the set went on.  Slow and steady wins the race right?  After thinking about it, the setlist was better that way because it always kept your attention and there was never a dull moment throughout the night.

 

Basically, the entire setlist for the night was from their latest two albums (Lost Forever // Lost Together and All Our Gods Have Abandoned Us) which also happened to be the most recognized from their discography.  “These Colours Don’t Run” from an older album was played towards the end of the night, plus their most popular song to date now, “Doomsday.”  “Doomsday” was released fairly recently, and was only released as a single that did not take long to sky rocket to the top of the charts.  It was also the last song they played before their encore, and it rips just as hard as the recorded track does.  It is by far the best song they’ve released to date for multiple reasons as well; take a listen and you will see what I mean.

 

The overall performance was spot on Wednesday.  As mentioned before, all though not the most entertaining band to watch for stage antics, the technicalities and musicianship is what will win over, most including myself.  Even for it being the first night of the tour, it went smooth as could be.  Also having the chance to witness Architects play live again was a blessing in disguise since most thought that last year was probably going to be their last tour… seems like we won’t have that worry anymore as they continue on with their journey.  It will also be most intriguing to see what direction they will be going in the near future for song writing and such.  Only time will tell, and we will be there when it happens.

 

Setlist:

  1. A Match Made in Heaven
  2. Downfall
  3. Naysayer
  4. Deathwish
  5. Broken Cross
  6. Dead Man Talking
  7. Gravity
  8. Phantom Fear
  9. The Devil is Near
  10. C.A.N.C.E.R.
  11. These Colours Don’t Run
  12. Gravedigger
  13. Doomsday

Encore:

  1. Nihilist
  2. Gone With the Wind

Wage War at SOLD OUT Stage AE Show

Joining  A Day to Remember for their seventh sold out show at Stage AE was the notorious Wage War who just so happened to be the opening act for the night.  Most times with opening acts, no one is particularly paying attention or really even cares because they’re usually there for the headliner or maybe even the direct support.  Honestly, that was not the case this time around whether people knew who Wage War was or not, a lot of people left as a newfound fan of the hardcore/metalcore band.

 

Being the opening act is sometimes nerve racking, nice to get it over with but being the band that basically “sets the bar” could be the downfall for some if not most.  Luckily, Wage War took the bar and smashed it through the roof!  They weren’t afraid to go hard, strut their stuff, and have a good time.  Starting off their set was one of their biggest headbanging songs “Stitch” before jumping right into “Alive” and “Enemy.”

 

Wage War ended up playing ten songs which is quite surprising that they were allotted that much time, but with them being close friends with Jeremy McKinnon for starters, and the excellent performance they conjured up its not surprising anymore.  They played a solid mix though with their setlist as they played five songs from each of their two albums (setlist below).  Aside from their heavier songs, they also had some singalong songs that really got the crowd involved which was a nice change of pace for their set.  Like: Gravity, Don’t Let Me Fade Away, and Twenty One.

 

Luckily… if you missed Wage War this time around DO NOT WORRY because they will be returning to Pittsburgh this December with Oceans Ate Alaska, Gideon, Varials, and Loathe.  If you are a metalcore/hardcore fan then I really don’t have to go into any details at all besides just saying that this is the show for you without question.

 

Don’t forget to checkout Wage War’s setlist and photos below!

 

Setlist:

  1. Stitch
  2. Alive
  3. Enemy
  4. Blueprints
  5. The River
  6. Witness
  7. Deadweight
  8. Gravity
  9. Don’t Let Me Fade Away
  10. Twenty One

Whitechapel Celebrate a Decade of The Somatic Defilement

To celebrate a decade’s worth of the groundbreaking album, The Somatic Defilement, the Tennessee metal band Whitechapel embarked on a headlining tour to giving people more of the old school songs that a true diehard fan would ask for.  Since they were not swinging by Pittsburgh this time around, a road trip was in order so we could bear witness to this killer setlist that any metalhead would enjoy.  This time around, I can personally say I truly do miss the local Pittsburgh crowd while I traveled out to Kent, Ohio for this show; in the end, it was still worth it.

 

Even though the tour was based on Whitechapel’s first album, they played a small handful of some of their latest releases and fan favorites before tuning their instruments even lower for what everyone was asking for.  Starting the show off with a couple songs off of their latest release, Mark of the Blade, before venturing into some songs off of their self-titled album and the follow up to that album, Our Endless War.  Not a whole lot of time was wasted since Whitechapel is usually a band of business and doesn’t like to waste time while on stage.  After a solid seven songs from their most recent collection (setlist below), we finally jumped into the reason everyone came to the show.

 

Curious of what they would play off of their album based around the elusive Jack the Ripper, I can report that the song choice put my mind at ease because they only picked the best songs off of the album (almost the entire album).  Starting off the second part of their set with the first two songs from The Somatic Defilement is more than enough to get anyone going down in the pit area.  Following them were some of the classic songs still played at shows for the most part including Vicer Exciser and Prostatic Fluid Asphyxiation.  Bliss to my ears in the most normal way possible.

 

With only three songs left out of the set from The Somatic Defilement, Whitechapel has definitely proven themselves time and time again by sticking to their guns and playing the music they thoroughly enjoy.  Where some bands have gone a different direction later in their careers or even switched styles completely, we truly have a band that seeks out the heaviest of songs to stick with tradition.  Where most bands flop in this category, Whitechapel still finds new ways to keep it going in the ever so judgmental music industry.  Celebrating one of the heaviest albums to be released in the past decade was a great choice for them to get back to their roots before starting off the new year with whatever else they have planned.  Needless to say, if you have the chance to check out this store, you must.  If you need more convincing, their supporting acts include Carnifex, Rings of Saturn, and Entheos.  All them as well were on the top of their game that night, so getting to this show is once again a must.

 

Setlist

  1. Mark of the Blade
  2. Elitist Ones
  3. Faces
  4. I, Dementia

Rise

  1. Our Endless War
  2. The Saw Is the Law
  3. Possibilities of an Impossible Existence

Necrotizing

  1. The Somatic Defilement
  2. Devirgination Studies
  3. Fairy Fay
  4. Prostatic Fluid Asphyxiation
  5. Vicer Exciser
  6. Ear to Ear

Encore:

  1. Possession
  2. This Is Exile

Veil of Maya Release False Idol

Following their hit “Matriarch” album, Veil of Maya have finally released some fresh work with their latest album, “False Idol,” which dropped today.  This will be Veil of Maya’s second album with their latest singer, Lukas Magyar, adding in clean vocals once again which was a very controversial topic on the album prior.  On “Matriarch,” the vocals were a nice step up from previous albums leading up to their latest releases.  With “False Idol,” curiosity was probably the best way to describe prior emotions for when the album was announced due to the new direction they were taking.

 

From the first two singles released (Doublespeak and Overthrow) we ended up with a little taste of what this albums true potential holds.  We heard the fairly standard sound that we’ve grown accustom too listening to Veil of Maya, but in the end, is their sound really standard?  Every song they’ve written has been intense, complex, and leaving musicians very confused over the years when it comes to the majority of their work due to oddball time signatures and a very unique playing style.  Between the two singles released, we already received some of the best parts from Veil of Maya that we are fairly use to, which truly fills my metal influenced heart with bliss and joy.  The killer breakdowns and fast tempo rhythms throughout them combined with the occasional newfound verse/chorus patterns just absolutely crush it with ease.

 

As I was listening to “False Idol” I was fairly intrigued on how their first true concept album would turnout, and so far I’m still hooked on the “sick licks” they came up with for this album.  Luckily Veil of Maya had a lot more time to actually prepare this time around and was able to structure these songs properly instead of adding vocals/lyrics at the last minute with a fresh new vocalist.  That particular situation was out of their hands at the time due to some bad timing involved on the last album, but in the end, were able to pull it together to create something fresh and new for everyone which ended up opening many new doors.  Having the time to prepare this time definitely made a difference this time around listening to these tracks; “Manichee” is a prime example.  When listening in on it, you can really hear the dynamics added into the vocals that match up with the music.  It didn’t feel rushed or even pushed into the song, it sounded a lot more naturally involved one could say.

 

Going from the first half of this album to the second, it has a transitional point it feels like where it starts off fast and heavy, giving that well needed adrenaline rush before slowing it down actually and giving you a quick breather.  That breather doesn’t really last too long since the last three songs go right back into some heavy hitting riffs.  Let us not forget the fantastic bass lines and drum beats from Dan Hauser and Sam Applebaum.  Who else are we missing?  Quite possibly one of the most entertaining and talented guitarists to hit the scene as well, Mark Okubo.  Where this group comes up with half of the things they do is a question that seems as if it will never be answered.  Overall rating from our standpoint, 4 out 5 stars, a very high quality rating and an amazing album for all metal fans to indulge and simply enjoy.  Personal recommendations of songs to listen to would be: Fracture, Pool Spray, Citadel, and Follow Me.

The Devil Wears Prada and Veil of Maya @ Mr. Smalls

One of my all-time favorite ways to kick off the weekend is having a little bit of stress relieving fun at just about any metal show that comes my way.  This time around, I lucked out with one hell of a show with The Devil Wears Prada, Veil of Maya, Silent Planet and Thousand Below.  With all the shows I have attended this year, this was one of the best lineups yet to say the least.

 

Veil of Maya, who has been quite the topic lately, has finally returned to the stage with a brand new album coming out in a couple more weeks.  It has been quite some time now it feels since they’ve played a show but one thing is for certain, there’s no rust on the wheels that is slowing them down.  Sometimes it shows that some bands need a couple of shows to get back into it, but they showed no signs of such things at all Friday night.  Veil of Maya came out guns ablazing it seemed with their latest single release, “Overthrow,” off of their latest album “False Idol” (October 20th, 2017).  Following that, they ended up playing a handful of songs off of their prior release, “Matriarch,” which just so happened to be the majority of their set.  It seems as if in doing so, Veil of Maya is basically moving on and evolving more when it comes to their music and selection of songs performed, leaving most of the past behind them as they start this next chapter of their careers.  Of course they still played the fan favorites such as: Punisher, It’s Not Safe to Swim Today, Unbreakable and Subject Zero.  On top of that, I had the chance to interview Marc and Lukas after the show to discuss a little bit more about “False Idol” and its epic release (Interview Below).  Personally, this album has me pretty excited to see what they have been writing as of lately.

 

Of course, how could we ever forget the one and only The Devil Wears Prada.  Aside from some of the other metal bands that make their way through Pittsburgh, TDWP have one of the biggest fan bases in Pittsburgh due to their lead vocalist, Mike Hranica, hailing from the Monroeville area quite some time ago.  With that being said, and since he is a huge Pittsburgh sports fan, you know that at some point throughout the night that there was going to be a “let’s go pens’ chant thrown in the show just because they can… which they did… half a dozen times it felt.  With their latest headlining tour (No Sun / No Moon) just starting it Pittsburgh, and no new album to support, I was quite curious to hear what songs they would play, and they actually ended up playing a very solid mixture of all of their albums combined.  Any TDWP fan should have been at this show since you were able to experience older and newer stuff in one solid setlist.  Surpisglny though, they actually played a lot of songs off of “With Roots Above and Braches Below,” more than their last couple of albums which was kind of nice to see them going back to their roots a little (pun intended).  But, hearing some songs off of their “Space EP” is always refreshing for some odd reason I feel.  Honestly, this was one of the best performances I’ve seen by TDWP and I wasn’t ready for the true Wildman to come out onto stage and just tear it up all night and on every part of the stage either.  Truly a fantastic performance with no signs of stopping anytime soon for TDWP.

The Contortionist at Mr. Smalls

With an uprising of progressive metal/rock bands taking over the scene over the past few years, there has only been a small handful that has actually made their name well known while continuously writing the music that they truly want to write and perform.  One of those bands happens to be The Contortionist, and through thick and thin, they have always strived to take their audience on a musical journey through their world and show you that it’s not always about fast paced and chorus filled songs.  This time around, The Contortionist have brought their latest release, “Clairvoyant,” to Pittsburgh as the direct support for the legendary Between the Buried and Me on their “10 Years of Colors” tour.

 

Aside from some technical difficulties right before the band actually even came on stage, it was surprising to see and hear so many people exhilarated to see The Contortionist play.  I was under the impression that not as many people knew them that well still, but it seems as if I was wrong.  When The Contortionist finally hit the stage, they started with a slow climatic feel as one would have come to expect before they decide to pick up the pace after a few minutes in.  When they did finally kick the faster and heavier parts of their songs in, the fans were quite ready for the high intense energy that was coming from the band before slowing it back down.  One thing is for sure though, that The Contortionist is not afraid to get into their own music and just stay in their own little world.  Lead singer Michael Lessard is a prime example since while performing he is always moving to the rhythm and grooves of the music rather than just “amping” up the crowd.

 

With their latest release “Clairvoyant” doing so well on the Billboard Charts across the globe, it would be shocking if we didn’t see The Contortionist again sometime soon (quite possibly as the headliner) since their set was quite short this time around. A thirty-five minute set is not really that long of a set for a band like them since it is truly hard to really get into it with only five songs at that point.  Beggars can’t be choosers though, but one can dream that the next time will be an hour at least to really give people the head-trip they deserve.

Review: Taking Back Sunday, Every Time I Die and All Get Out @ Stage AE

Taking Back Sunday stopped by Pittsburgh’s own Stage AE the other night to have one major party on a Wednesday night.  Fellow supporting acts Every Time I Die and All Get Out had the same mindset it seemed when it came to having some fun and truly rocking out.  For a Taking Back Sunday fan though, this was definitely a show to see since their setlist was a solid mixture of older and newer songs so cover the whole bands rather large discography.  Of course that includes some of Adam’s mic swinging antics and humorous stories throughout the night.

 

One of the two biggest mentions of the night was how there wasn’t one moment I could honestly recollect that there wasn’t a handful of fans singing along, or how spot on the band was when it came to their set.  Every song was just so punchy and smooth at the same time which in turn tells me that this band has a lot more to offer still when it comes to playing shows and hopefully continuing to write new material in the years to come.

 

It was quite noticeable when Taking Back Sunday would play some older songs from one particular album (Louder Now) because the tempo of the whole performance just altered to a faster more energetic setting for everyone.  Just goes to show that there’s always at least one album that will never die off and will always be the “go to” album for setlist songs.  Even a Green Day song was played throughout the set to change things up a bit and to also keep things fresh.

 

Nineteen songs later, a couple of stories, and one killer performance later I can definitely say I left satisfied and had a fulfilled night that had me blaring my stereo on the way home.  It just seems that Taking Back Sunday never really lets you down after all these years as an alternative band that just keeps on keeping on.  Not a whole lot of better ways to put it.

 

Pics and Setlist Below!

 

Setlist:

 

  1. Tidal Wave
  2. You Know How I Do
  3. Error: Operator
  4. You Can’t Look Back
  5. Set Phasers to Stun
  6. Flicker, Fade
  7. Timberwolves at New Jersey
  8. Call Come Running
  9. Liar (It Takes One to Know One)
  10. Death Wolf
  11. You’re So Last Summer
  12. She (Green Daycover)
  13. Everything Must Go
  14. What’s It Feel Like to Be a Ghost?
  15. Number Five with a Bullet
  16. A Decade Under the Influence
  17. Cute Without the ‘E’ (Cut from the Team)

Encore:

  1. Better Homes and Gardens
  2. MakeDamnSure

Train Tough it out Despite Rainy Night

On a rainy Friday night, the citizens of Pittsburgh (and a lot from Erie actually) toughed it out to see Train play what was close enough to be a hometown show for lead singer Pat Monahan who lived in Erie, PA as a kid.  With that being said, anticipation was high for them as they were about to take the stage, as for me on the other hand… I personally was unsure of what to expect.

 

As much as I never like to use the first person until the end of a review, I have to be honest and say I never listen to the radio, only my own music.  When listening to Train play the other night I’ve come to realize that anytime the radio did happen to be on my stereo, or any other time I walked into a grocery store, Train plays quite literally every other song… this is no joke.  My personal thoughts kept repeating and it sounded like a broken record, “I didn’t know they played this song.” “They play this song too?” “Really?  They play that song as well?” “So they play every song on the radio ever?”  At this point, I was unsure whether to be impressed because they had so many popular songs or to be kind of disappointed in a band that only plays catchy hit singles of their own.  One thing for certain, the crowd loved and sang along all night long with Pat and it seems as if they made a great career choice for themselves in the long run.

 

Upon watching Train’s performance, aside from the catchy songs that were being performed, and the guest appearances from the opening acts to help with a couple of songs (check setlist below), the performance by the band was somewhat boring.  This is not me being biased, just stating a fact that no one really moved around at all on stage except Pat, and even then all he did was walk side to side the whole time; there just wasn’t a whole lot of energy it seemed.  During the third song, he was taking people’s phones and taking selfies with them which was very cool of him, and later on the double guitar solo from Luis Maldonado was pretty great, but aside from those two things, the show relied on the display screen in the backdrop to entertain the crowd with images, colors, and lights.  That was a lie, there was one more interesting thing, Train played a song titled “Marry Me” so their bus driver could propose to his girlfriend mid-song on stage.  FYI she did say yes.

 

As we were getting towards the end of the show, and they came back out for their encore songs, they dedicated a song to the recently lost Chris Cornell and played a “Black Hole Sun” exactly as it is performed by Soundgarden.  Personally, it sounded great, the interest of everyone else though seemed as if they didn’t even know the song or even care about it because it was the complete opposite of every other song played that night.  It was kind of upsetting to not see any support for that song but more importantly, Chris Cornell.  Probably because everyone at the show had no clue what that song was.

 

To wrap this up the show was overall consistently good throughout the night, but was lacking in the true concert experience I felt as if nothing really stood out to me.  The same experience could have been felt by watching a youtube performance or just turning on the radio.  I give Train a lot of credit for creating so many catchy and popular songs over the past few years, I just wish the show would have been less of a “greatest hits” show and more of an actual performance.

All photos ©2017 Dave Mondine

 

Setlist:

  1. Drink Up
  2. 50 Ways to Say Goodbye
  3. If It’s Love
  4. Angel in Blue Jeans
  5. Get to Me
  6. Save Me, San Francisco
  7. Calling All Angels
  8. Bruises (with Natasha Bedingfield)
  9. Meet Virginia
  10. Drive By
  11. Marry Me (with marriage proposal by Pat’s bus driver)
  12. Valentine
  13. You Can Call Me Al (Paul Simoncover) (with O.A.R.)
  14. Working Girl
  15. Mermaid / Shape of You / Cheap Thrills / Treat You Better / Lost and Found
  16. Hey, Soul Sister
  17. Play That Song

Encore:

  1. Black Hole Sun (Soundgardencover)
  2. Drops of Jupiter

A Lot Like Birds share DIVISI with Pittsburgh

It has been a long three years or so since A Lot Like Birds swung by Pittsburgh for a show, but with their latest album “DIVISI” added to their highly intricate discography, it was quite necessary to have the citizens of Pittsburgh experience the new direction they have decided to take with their latest release.  “DIVISI” is a whole new experience for not only fans, but for the band as well.  They even fully admitted this was “a step into new territory, but one the universe assured us was in the right direction.”  With that being said, curiosity struck me as I was heading to this show due to the fact that this was, in fact, a new sound for them, so the question at hand was, what songs will they be playing?  The answer, “DIVISI” in its entirety to truly give the crowd an unforgettable experience as they were taken on a journey throughout the whole course of this album that they (A Lot Like Birds) had so much confidence in.

 

Needless to say, to play an album in its entirety is either very beneficial or very risky, facts are facts.  “DIVISI” being the first time they have attempted something this unique was more on the risky side but while standing in that room hearing it be played, it was as if the whole world froze, just so everyone could hear them play.  Just imagining total isolation from the outside world is insane enough, but to actually experience it is a whole other thing.  Very few bands could take you on a journey such as that, only a couple off the top of my head as I write this review, but A Lot Like Birds just so happens to be one of those bands now.

 

Personally, the next time A Lot Like Birds comes back around it would be nice to see them at a bigger venue with more extraordinary bands.  With the current direction they are heading, this can be quite possible with the right bands intermixed.

 

Setlist:

  1. Always Burning, Always Dark
  2. The Sound of Us
  3. For Shelley (Unheard)
  4. Trace the Lines
  5. Atoms in Evening
  6. Infinite Chances
  7. The Smoother the Stone
  8. No Attention for Solved Puzzles
  9. Further Below
  10. Good Soil, Bad Seeds
  11. From Moon to Son
  12. Divisi

Encore

  1. Properties of Friction
  2. No Nurture
  3. Kuroi Ledge

Make Them Suffer Finally Make it to Pittsburgh

It may have only been their second visit ever to the states, but Make Them Suffer felt right at home playing in Pittsburgh the other night along with Stray from the Path and Architects (UK).  Make Them Suffer were actually supposed to make an appearance about a year ago now in Pittsburgh, but had some complications with traveling so were unable to make it.  Well, we are here now to say that the wait was well worth it for this particular band.  There just happens to be something unique about their sound that separates them from the usual “metal” band that we’ve come to be comfortable with for the most part.  Could it be the majestic melodies of the piano?  Possibly the way they structure their songs?  All of it?  The answer turns out to be the simplest thing you could possibly imagine, yes, simply yes.

 

Anticipations were very high for this show, and quite honestly having Make Them Suffer open was the best way it could have started.  They might not be that well known (yet) but as stated earlier, they felt right at home, was very well true as more than just a fair portion of the crowd were right there singing along and having fun down in the pit area with them.  Sadly, six songs were personally not enough, and when Make Them Suffer’s vocalist Sean said they only had two songs left, disappointment filled the room since their set was going oh so well.  Needless to say that they left Pittsburgh with a lot of new fans that night.  Two thumbs up goes to the boys from down under, Make Them Suffer, and anticipations are high once again for their return which hopefully is sooner rather than later.

Words and pix: Dave Mondine

 

Setlist:

  1. Widower
  2. Fake
  3. Elegies
  4. Let Me In
  5. Ether
  6. Blood Moon

August Burns Red return to Pittsburgh

Once again, Lancaster legends August Burns Red swung by Pittsburgh for the Messengers 10th anniversary tour.  Since their “go to” venue has been shut down (Altar Bar) they ended up at Mr. Smalls for the occasion.  Deciding to tour and celebrate one of their heaviest and fastest albums seemed like it would be a crazy idea for them after coming off of their most intricate album (Found in Far Away Places) to date.  Luckily it brought out the diehard ABR fans to these shows who remember seeing them ten years ago when this album first came out.  That being said, crazy may be an understatement for Wednesday night since there were endless crowd surfers and moshers from start to finish.

At the very start of the show, maybe about halfway through the first song, Jake Luhrs (vocals) stopped singing to help one of the photographers out of the pit actually because it ended up getting way to hectic for anyone to be down there with all the crowd surfers falling over the barricade.  After leaving the stage, the band continued to finish the song before stopping to wait for the return of their frontman.  When coming back on stage, he had a brief statement about having fun but staying safe.  From that point they continued on with playing the Messengers album all the way through before returning to the stage for one of Matt’s famous drum solos followed by some of their hits such as: Empire, White Washed, and Ghosts.

Every single time I end up covering ABR I feel as if I always leave with a drive to listen and play music so much more than I ever would at another concert.  From the professionalism to the offstage generosity these guys have is just mindboggling sometimes.  Plus getting some of the best pictures of my career of them definitely helps.  All in all, their shows are some of the best metalcore performances out there and the fact that they are in the writing process for another album makes my hair stand on edge for how excited I am.

Photos Below!

Setlist:

  1. The Truth of a Liar
  2. Up Against the Ropes
  3. Back Burner
  4. The Blinding Light
  5. Composure
  6. Vital Signs
  7. The Eleventh Hour
  8. The Balance
  9. Black Sheep
  10. An American Dream
  11. Redemption

Encore:

  1. Drum Solo
  2. Empire
  3. Fault Line
  4. Martyr
  5. Ghosts

Reel Big Fish Celebrate 20 Years of ‘Turn the Radio Off’ in Pittsburgh

Wednesday night in Pittsburgh brought together all of the hardcore punk and ska fans in the entire area just to see the hometown boys Anti-Flag and the legendary Reel Big Fish all in one night.  This was the first really big show in Pittsburgh this year, and what a way to start it off as both Anti-Flag and Reel Big Fish were both celebrating the 20th anniversary for two of their most famous, well known albums.

 

As Reel Big Fish hit the stage, there was no time wasted in starting their set, but they didn’t want to go straight into “Turn the Radio Off” just yet, so they played a few classics to kick off the night like: I Want Your Girlfriend to be My Girlfriend, Kiss Me Deadly, Another F.U. Song, and Your Guts (I Hate Them).  Shortly after, they started to play “Turn the Radio Off” in its entirety to celebrate its 20th anniversary.

 

While Speaking with Aaron Barret earlier about how the crowd reacts to playing the whole album, it was mentioned that most people just stare off into space because they don’t know the other songs on the album besides the major hits.  Well Pittsburgh definitely did not just die out when the not so popular songs were being played.  Everyone was singing and skanking (dancing) along the whole night from start to finish.

 

Of course though, after the album was finished, we get an encore with some more of their greatest hits like “Where Have You Been?” and without a single doubt, “Take On Me.”  All and all the performance was great as always; Reel Big Fish just never seem to let anyone down when playing a show.  Walking into Stage AE on a Wednesday and it is just about sold out shows that no matter what, they have an amazing and committed fan base located here in Pittsburgh that isn’t changing anytime soon.

 

Don’t forget to check out my interview with Billy Kottage and Aaron Barret of Reel Big Fish (Click here)!

Every Time I Die come out Swinging @MrSmalls

With a stellar new release and a major head banging tour happening all at once, no one else could honestly come out on stage with such confidence in themselves as Every Time I Die.  When I say that, I do mean that they knew that their latest album was such a hit that playing half of it Saturday night for the city of Pittsburgh was more than a splendid idea.  From the amount of bodies flying that night (that does include ETID), something definitely went right while they were supporting Beartooth on their latest tour.

 

It is such a rare occasion that you see a band anymore that is non-stop from start to finish during their set;  Especially when they end up playing for about an hour or so.  ETID just so happens to be one of those bands that comes out swinging and guns a blazing until their time is up.  Even when their time is up its hard to believe that they still would and could go longer.  So just like their records, there is no stopping for a breather because there is no time for such tomfoolery at an ETID show.  Hopefully the crowd who had no clue what to expect when they hit the stage was able to survive the pit after their performance.  From stage dives to high fives to jump kicks and flying guitars, it was quite the spectacle to say the least.  They never lost a beat either which after listening to a lot of their music, you wouldn’t believe me until you saw it for yourself.

 

Pittsburgh Music Magazine gives Every Time I Die’s latest album “Low Teens” and their most recent performance at Mr. Smalls two thumbs up!  Anything less would be demeaning in all honesty.  Hopefully they will be stopping back next year for a headlining tour of their own.

Setlist:

 

  1. Glitches
  2. We’rewolf
  3. Ebolarama
  4. Underwater Bimbos from Outer Space
  5. Thirst
  6. Decayin’ With the Boys
  7. Petal
  8. Bored Stiff
  9. Two Summers
  10. The New Black
  11. Floater
  12. It Remembers
  13. The Coin Has a Say
  14. No Son of Mine
  15. Map Change

Twelve Foot Ninja at Mr. Smalls

An electrifying Friday night in Millvale at Mr. Smalls Theater with one of the freshest, biggest acts to come out of Australia, Twelve Foot Ninja.  With their unique style and incredible stage presence, they were hitting the stage with everything they had.  This being the fourth official time that they were visiting the states, they have definitely shown that they now have quite the following since their debut album came out a few years back.

 

Right before seeing them play for the first time, I admit that I have never heard any of their music and had no clue what “fusion metal” would even sound like.  Just half way through their first song, I will also admit that I became a fan listening to some of the most unique musicians that have hit the stage to date.  From the excellent guitar work to the killer drum beats back to the smooth vocals that combined together leave you in shock and awe… this is one band that is fairly difficult to describe who they sound like without overloading anyone’s brain; meaning there are about dozen bands that if combined together could do what Twelve Foot Ninja do on a daily basis.  No wonder why these guys have been recognized so much in the past couple of years and are now about to be the direct support for the legendary Disturbed.

 

Even though Twelve Foot Ninja was not the headliner for the night, it seems as if they could have been since majority of the crowd was screaming their name to start the show.  Once again, they have quite the following now.  Now that I personally know what all the hype is about surrounding this band, it all makes sense, they are the next big thing, and they are worth the listen.  I feel as if most would be surprised by what they hear, in a good way that is.  Plus, seeing them live was quite the experience and I do hope that the albums they have released do just as much justice as their performances do.

All photos Dave Mondine © 2016

Review: Periphery’s New Album “Clear”

Periphery has just recently released their newest album “Clear”. Just for starters, this may just be their finest album yet. The album is not overly done with utter ridiculousness and since its only a total of seven songs, it is just the right length where it never losses your attention.

The first song off of the album is called “Overture” and it is mainly just piano with a some slow drawn out guitar and drums. The Piano ends up picking up speed for a only a few seconds then falls back into a more gracious melody. Then album really gets started with some very tight riffs in usual Periphery fashion with “The Summer Jam”. The instrumental is always killer with Periphery but the vocals were what caught my attention this time around. Everything was right on key and it covered a lot of vocal range (which is done quite well throughout the album).

“Feed the Ground” is the next song on the track listing and this is without question the best song on the album. The drums and bass lines were just absolutely killer on this track. It starts off with a type of metal groove and all of a sudden it picks up the pace right before they switched to a heavy breakdown. This song has everything you could ever want in a song and you might never take it off repeat after you listen to it.

The next song is called “Zero” and it reminds you a lot of the old school Periphery songs with their very intricate time signatures and such. This song is nothing but instrumental and when you listen to it, you will understand why. Even without any vocals, this song is really cool to just sit back and listen to.

“The Parade of Ashes” starts off with some heavy faster chugging riffs and tight drum beats. When the chorus kicks in, it is hard to explain, but it has a very old school rock sound to it that just makes you want to dance. It is very upbeat and this song is a really great build up song. The second half of this song gets quicker and adds in an Avenged Sevenfold sounding guitar solo which really brought the song together before going back to their groovy chorus line.

To finish up the album, they end it with “Extraneous” and “Pale Aura”. The first of the two, “Extraneous”, has a very odd drum beat that is all bass, toms, and snare. The guitars and bass all have very odd sounds to them as well and after a short bit, they all pull together for the faster part before slowing it all back down to a breakdown. “Pale Aura” ends the album with a lot more screaming vocals then the rest of the album and even adds some killer blast beats. This might be the tightest track on the entire album with the quick switches from fast and slow parts without any sort of pause. The last two minutes of the song they start to slow it down and end the album with a little bit of piano and some very soft guitar.

Periphery’s album “Clear” from front to back was just simply excellent. In my personal opinion it is their best work yet. The vocals were phenomenal, the guitars and bass were very tight, and the drums were insane as always. If their is any album you want to go out a buy right now, it is this one without question. You will not be disappointed.

Review: Polar “Shadowed By Vultures”

Polar is one of those up and coming bands that just keeps grabbing everyone’s attention with some very catchy songs, and constantly getting recognition from some bigger bands in the UK area such as Bring Me the Horizon and Architects. “Shadowed by Vultures” will be their second full length album and man, what a killer one at that.

Polar opens up their newest album with the intro song “First Breath” and the title couldn’t be closer to the truth, because as soon as it ends, they jump right into the first song called “Blood Lines” followed by their first single off of this album, “Glass Cutter”. “Blood Lines” has that heavy grungy sound to it like off of their first album. “Glass Cutter” has not so much a laid back rhythm, but more of a build up kind of riff so everyone can just blast their speakers and sing along with the very catchy chorus lines.

The album rolls onto “Black Days” which has a similar sound to “Glass Cutter”. This song has a lot more clean guitar then what they usually do but its a nice change of pace for them. The bass lines in this song were just killer from start to finish. When “Before the Storm” comes on, the title speaks for itself basically. The song is very calm in the beginning, and stays fairly slow the whole time. It gets a bit louder but nothing crazy so its not overbearing at all. Its more of a nice little intermission song.

“Mountain Throne” is up next and this is the second single off of the album released only a few weeks ago. This song doesn’t really get crazy but another catchy chorus line by Polar. They simply have a knack for making their songs very catchy which is really good for their future. “Vipers” grabbed by attention a bit with its very interesting drum beats that had me listening very closely. This song went back and forth between a huge heavy sound to a slower headbanging sound and was quite enjoyable.

The title track, “Shadowed by Vultures”, just comes barreling in with some faster riffs and drums and instantly makes you want to start running in a circle pit. Then “Paradise” comes on, and its a breath of fresh air really. Some very soft guitar led by the beautiful sound of a piano. Even though its not a song you will see them play live, its really nice relaxing song right before they finish up the album.

The last two songs were “Create” (which was on their last EP), and “Our Legacy”. “Create” is always a fun jam since they released it last year on an earlier EP, and it has not grown old at all. “Our Legacy” was probably the most technical song on the album. Various different speeds with some of Polar’s grungy metal riffs followed by their upbeat ones. The vocals really impressed me on this one; they were a lot more varied with highs and lows to change it up.

Overall, it was a solid album. I don’t really have any complaints about it and it can’t come out soon enough! Polar’s new album, “Shadowed by Vultures”, is set to be released February 10th. Go Grab a copy as soon as you can.

Review: I Killed the Prom Queen “Beloved”

The Australian metalcore band, I Killed the Prom Queen, have had some very up and down times over their time as a band. This has included lineup changes and breakups since they formed back in 2000. Just last year though, it was announced that the band was going to become a full-time band again and start to write/record a new album, hoping to release it early 2014. Well here we, early 2014, and the album has not been released just yet but just last night the band offered to have a full stream of their newest album online for everyone to experience the new era of I Killed the Prom Queen.

They start off with an intro song called “Beginning of the End” and then as soon as it ends the drums for “To the Wolves” just come blistering in to really kick off the album. “To the Wolves” was released late last year but nonetheless, it is still a great song to jam too.

The next two songs entitled “Bright Enough” and “Melior” have some very sick guitar riffs that isn’t just the usual kind of metalcore riff; they add more into it that just gives the song a nice melody and gives it a very definite sound. Don’t worry too much though, they are still a metal band so things are going to still get heavy with some breakdowns and chugging chords.

The second single off of the album, and the first music video, “Thirty One & Sevens” is probably my personal favorite off of this album. It has a very solid mix of the heavy side and the more upbeat technical side of metalcore that really gets you to jam and move to it. The riffs, the drums, and the vocals were just at their best for this song.

“Calvert Street” picks the speed back up for the album (more than it was) right before it slows down a bit for “Kjaerlighet”. While “Calvert Street” was focused more on blast beats, breakdowns, and some heavy riffs, “Kjaerlighet” was laid back and used more of an orchestra behind parts of this song to make it a lot more full then it already was.

The last four songs are easier to sum up together: The Beaten Path, Nightmares, No One Will Save Us, and Brevity. All four of these were just like the rest of the album, a very solid mix of everything you want in a metalcore band. There is no other way to put it. No song on this album was disappointing in the least. This may just be one of the strongest comebacks ever for a band. To release such a strong album after not being a full-time band in six years… its beyond impressive. I would love to say that this is their masterpiece but then again, I Killed the Prom Queen is back and they have the energy and determination right now to trump their own album right now. Things are going to get interesting.

Check out I Killed the Prom Queen’s new album “Beloved” set to release February 18th.

Full Stream “Beloved” here: http://www.soundwavefestival.com/about/news/i-killed-prom-queen-australian-exclusive-stream-beloved

Brand New Coming to Pittsburgh’s Stage AE: 7/10

Just yesterday afternoon it was announced that the alternative rock band, Brand New, have added a bunch of shows to their tour, which will end up stopping by Pittsburgh’s own Stage AE on July 10th. It has been quite awhile since Brand New have been to the Steel City but the wait is over. They have not announced who will be supporting them for the shows in the United States, but it should be announced soon enough. Check back in for updates on the matter or check the bands website or even Stage AE’s website.

http://www.stageae.com/

http://www.fightoffyourdemons.com/

Within the Ruins Ready for Summer 2014

It has been announced that Within the Ruins have officially entered the recording studio and are set to release a new album sometime this summer. No other information has been given at this particular time. The band has just come off of a long year of touring after supporting their last album “Elite” which changed the metal scene last year and ended up getting a lot of praise from many other bands in the industry. A band like Within the Ruins doesn’t come around often, and with only releasing three albums so far in their short career, they have miraculously improved every step of the way. They have a lot to live up to now, but there is no doubt that they can just keep improving (more than they already have) and blowing peoples minds with their music.

Stay tuned for more info on the matter.

Affiance Calls All Warriors at Mr. Smalls

Affiances most recent tour has been to support Protest the Hero, the Contortionist, and the Kindred. Luckily we were able to catch them at Pittsburgh’s own Mr. Smalls located in Millvale. Affiance is coming from straight out of Cleveland Ohio, so it was expected that there would be some wise crack jokes being rival cities and all. This was all out of good spirit though, so do not be getting the wrong idea on that matter.

With the Architects dropping out of the tour, Affiance actually moved up on the lineup to be the second band playing. Affiance didn’t get to play a very long set, but for the six songs they were able to play, they made it worthwhile! They opened up very strong and the intensity from them just kept increasing from that point on. Starting off with “Kings of Deceit” was a very nice start, followed by “Peace of Mind” and “We the Machines”. Right before their third song, a huge circle pit opened up right in the middle of the whole floor. It was the first real pit of the night and it never stopped for the rest of their set. “Righteous Kill” and “You Will Be Replaced” came up next right before a quick little intermission. As soon as the intermission was over, Dennis called of the warriors up to the front for their final song “Call of the Warrior”.

Affiance has brought up their game quite a lot within the past year or so and without a doubt, it is showing. They have a solid mix of tight, heavy, highly technical riffs with some real sick beats. Even the pitch of the vocals improved a lot since their first album. Affiance seems to be that band that you really have to keep an eye out for if they keep it up like this. Touring with Protest the Hero has really helped them broaden their horizons lately; being introduced to all of these new locations and people helps spread the word about them. Affiance is getting two thumbs up for this show without question.

Setlist:
1. Kings of Deceit
2. Peace of Mind
3. We the Machines
4. Righteous Kill
5. You Will Be Replaced
6. Call to the Warrior

All photos  ©2013 Mike Mendlowitz and Pittsburgh Music Magazine

DSC_0215 DSC_0005 DSC_0009 DSC_0016 DSC_0024 DSC_0027 DSC_0039 DSC_0047 DSC_0055 DSC_0057 DSC_0058 DSC_0068 DSC_0070 DSC_0077 DSC_0094 DSC_0121 DSC_0126 DSC_0128 DSC_0133 DSC_0157 DSC_0170 DSC_0182 DSC_0189

Protest the Hero Gets Crazy at Mr. Smalls

The Canadian band Protest the Hero has just recently released a new album, “Volition,” and is actually about to finish up their first tour supporting the new album. During the last few shows of the tour, they stopped by Pittsburgh’s own Mr. Smalls in Millvale with supporting acts: the Kindred, Affiance, and the Contortionist.

It has been quite a while since they have played in Pittsburgh, so they made up for it with a spectacular show from start to finish. In typical Protest fashion, they had to have some odd, crazy intro before coming out onto the stage with their new drummer and temporary bass player replacement. Protest then jumped right into it after the intro with one of their newest songs “Underbite,” which got the crowd moving right off the bat. As soon as the first song ended, they jumped right into “Hair-Trigger” followed by one of their most difficult songs, “Sequoia Throne”. After that was a pause to switch out instruments as frontman Rody, talked to the crowd a bit and had some wise crack jokes for the crowd. One in particular was to make fun of everyone wearing a beanie because apparently in Canada they are called “toques”.

Anyway, back to the concert… Protest then started up with their first single off of “Volition,” which was “Clarity”. For the next few songs, Protest actually dug into some older songs to change it up and it was a nice little surprise for everyone, especially for the old school fans. Even at the half way point of the show, it still has not stopped! When they started up the song “Bloodmeat” and a couple songs after “Sex Tapes,” the crowd just went off the wall crazy. This became one of those shows where you never wanted it to end, literally! The encore song was even an awesome pick, finishing up with probably their biggest hit song “Blindfolds Aside”.

Protest the Hero was so impressive it was almost unimaginable. They have a lot of very quick, tight riff, technical songs that are always mind blowing to say the least. The fill-in players even pulled out all the stunts to grab everyone’s attention. On top of that, Rody was on the mark with his vocals and he was such a class act that night. If you have never seen Protest the Hero live… you should change that as soon as possible!

Setlist:

1. Underbite
2. Hair-Trigger
3. Sequoia Throne
4. Clarity
5. The Dissentience
6. Heretics & Killers
7. Bury the Hatchet
8. Mist
9. Bloodmeat
10. C’est la Vie
11. Sex Tapes
12. Tilting Against Windmills
13. Encore:
13. Blindfolds Aside

I Killed the Prom Queen Release First Song in Six Years

It has been about six years since I Killed the Prom Queen released any new material, but all of that is about to change this upcoming year with their new album entitled “Beloved”. Hailing from Australia, the band has been through multiple breakups and has had a lot of bad times and lineup changes throughout the years; all of that was put aside, and in 2011 it was official that they were going to be a band once again. Only soon after that, it became official that they were going to be a full-time band again. This was said sometime last year when founding guitarist, Jona Weinhofen, decided to part ways with Bring Me the Horizon officially to fully focus on I Killed the Prom Queen. This was right before Bring Me the Horizon started recording their latest album “Sempiternal” which was released earlier this year.

I Killed the Prom Queen has toured quite a lot over the past couple of years supporting many bands such as: Asking Alexandria, Whitechapel, Parkway Drive, and festivals all across Europe. After having some very successful tours, it was time to start recording a new refreshing record, which is to be released February 18th in the USA through Epitaph Records (which the band recently signed to this year). The band has been constantly teasing everyone with all of their teaser videos on youtube, but just the other day, they finally released their first single off of the new record. The song is called “To The Wolves” and it kicks in with an old school sound for them with a heavy drum solo intro followed by some nasty guitar riffs. At the same time, it has a very catching beat to it which is hard to find in metal now with everyone trying to be as heavy as possible. Don’t let that confuse you though, this song still has its heavy chugging moments and breakdowns, but this band has always had something more to their music then just that. “To The Wolves” is an awesome jam song and I personally couldn’t be happier with it. Hopefully they release another song soon because everyone wants to hear more! Even though this record is being released early 2014, it is probably the most anticipated album of the year (for the metal scene that is).

If you haven’t checked their newest song out yet, “To The Wolves”, check it out right here!

And if you would like to pre-order their newest album, “Beloved”, set to release February 18th, order it right here!
http://www.kingsroadmerch.com/epitaph-records/?id=1541

Reel Big Fish Skank it up at Altar Bar

Ladies and gentlemen, we have finally come to the end, of possibly the biggest week of ska music in the history of Pittsburgh venues. We started off the week with Streetlight Manifesto, followed by Less Than Jake, only to finish it all up with the one and only Reel Big Fish at Pittsburgh’s own Altar Bar.

This would be the first actual tour without Reel Big Fish’s (RBF) recently retired trombone player Dan Regan, who retired just last month after 20 plus years of service and dedication to the band. It was a hard loss, but nonetheless, RBF continued to go on and recruit their new trombone player Billy Kottage who has some serious talent and can definitely fill Dan Regan’s shoes for the most part. Getting back on track, after showing up to Altar Bar (an hour after the doors opened up), there was still a line of people all the way to the corner of the street, way past the venue. Just to see all of these loyal ska fans trying to cram into this small venue was amazing, on a Sunday night too! Without any surprise, it was another sold-out show for RBF in Pittsburgh and they made the show worth it too.

When RBF finally was about to come on stage, everyone screaming and shouting, ready to skank the night away, I took a quick look around Altar Bar and when I say this, I am not over exaggerating… there was not one spot that was jam packed with people. I didn’t even think Altar Bar could hold so many people at one time it was that unreal. To start things off right, RBF started with an old classic, “Everything Sucks” which couldn’t have started the night off better. After that they just kept on rolling right into “I Want Your Girlfriend to be my Girlfriend Too” and one of their newer songs “Don’t Stop Skankin”. The best part is, they still just kept on going! Next up they played “Trendy” and right before a break in between songs they played “Everyone Else is an Asshole”.

The crowd finally got to settle down for a short bit before RBF jumped back into it. But of course being a ska band and all, they have to joke around with each other. Frontman Aaron Barrett and trumpet player Johnny Christmas had to go back and forth with some funny jokes which got everyone to laugh quite a bit. Then it was time to start playing again and RBF mixed it up the whole night with some old songs, new songs, and even some songs form a side project band that Aaron Barrett started a while ago called The Forces of Evil. Getting the chance to see some songs by The Forces of Evil was probably a onetime thing, and it was exciting to get that chance too.

Getting back to the set, RBF also played some more classics and crowd favorites like: “Thank You for Not Moshing”, “Sell Out”, “Where Have you Been?”, “She Has a Girlfriend Now”, and of course “Beer”. Before I forget though, they also played half of a “Call Me Maybe” cover just to be funny. Leave it to a ska band to do just that. Probably the best part of the night though, was when Aaron Barrett broke a guitar string and still pulled off two more songs before the encore, and the solo to “Beer” while playing his guitar behind his head. Now that’s some talent right there.

When RBF came back on stage for an encore set, they of course had to enter in style with the O-lay O-lay O-lay O-lay chant. Now there were two really big songs that have not been played yet, and that would be “S.R.” and their A-Ha cover “Take on Me”. They did their normal thing with “S.R.” by playing almost every genre they could have by starting off with “This next song, which is the same song!” in RBF fashion of course; they played it: normal, faster, disco, square dance, and metal. Lastly, they finished up with “Take on Me” to end a great show and an amazing night for everyone.

This was one of the best performances I have seen Reel Big Fish play in a while. They have always been awesome but this time it just seemed like they pulled out some stunts. Constantly singing and dancing with each other, getting everyone to join in with their songs, simply just having a good time. It’s a great sign to see that a band that has been around that long still has that much fun playing shows and making music. It’s motivating to say the least, that now not just older generations get to experience it, but younger generations too, so it gets them excited to go experience more music like ska. Reel Big Fish at Altar Bar was two thumbs up, no question. This was the best way to finish off a weekend and a long week of ska concerts. If you missed this show… you missed out on a lot of cool experiences that you can only get at a ska show.

All photos ©2013  Mike Mendlowitz and Pittsburgh Music Magazine

DSC_0010_Snapseed_Snapseed DSC_0116_Snapseed DSC_0130_Snapseed DSC_0135_Snapseed DSC_0157_Snapseed DSC_0177_Snapseed DSC_0219_Snapseed DSC_0224_Snapseed DSC_0237_Snapseed DSC_0276_Snapseed DSC_0283_Snapseed DSC_0298_Snapseed DSC_0309_Snapseed DSC_0321_Snapseed DSC_0339_Snapseed DSC_0367_Snapseed

Less Than Jake’s First Show at Stage AE Pittsburgh

On a Wednesday night at Pittsburgh own Stage AE, probably the biggest punk rock/ska show this year has just taken place, and man was it energetic to say the least. Four bands stopped by Stage AE for the “Fat Tour 2013” which included: Get Dead, Masked Intruder, Pittsburgh’s own Anti-Flag, and the headliner Less Than Jake.

Now, Less Than Jake (LTJ) have come to Pittsburgh quite a lot since they started as a band more than 20 years ago! LTJ is one of the very few ska bands that still exists and actually still puts out new music on top of that. Anyway, they visit Pittsburgh a lot, and instead of playing at the usual spots (for them that is) like Mr. Smalls or Altar Bar, they deciding to go BIG by going to Stage AE. It is a challenge to fill that place sometimes; especially on a Wednesday night. LTJ saw no problem in the matter since, according to them that is, “Every day is a Friday night when you’re up on stage.” Pittsburgh has always been very loyal when it comes to punk rock and ska shows so the place did get pretty packed after everyone got out of all of the traffic going downtown.

As LTJ comes out onto the stage and the crowd already screaming at the top of their lungs, they jump right into it with a song off of their new album, “See the Light” called “Good Enough” followed by some good old classic songs: “Automatic”, “Sugar in Your Gas Tank”, and “Last One Out of Liberty City”. The band just kind of played all of those songs before they finally stopped to partake in their usual shenanigans with the crowd and each other. Now if you have never seen LTJ before, let me say this, they always have fun filled jokes and quick witty one-liners to go around all night long. It is always entertaining to see and it makes the show very enjoyable so it is more than just a concert, it’s a comedy skit too.

Leave it to LTJ though to pull two of the security guards up from down in the pit area, to have them come up on stage and have a beer chugging contest. Well… that didn’t happen because they were told “no”; the security guards could not drink. On to plan B then, they kept the security guards up on stage for one song, but had two women from the crowd come up on stage, chug the beers for the guys, then had a competition of who could dance the most provocative (slutty) with one of the guards. Hilarious none the less, and embarrassing too but that’s a ska show for you.

After all of the funny stunts LTJ pulled, they did play a lot more. Obviously they had to joke around with the crowd asking if they could quit playing early because they were “getting old”. Of course that didn’t work so on with the show! Of course though, they played some classics like I said before, like: “The Science of Selling Yourself Short”, “Scott Farcas Takes it on the Chin”, “History of a Boring Town”, and finishing up with, you guessed it “All My Best Friends Are Metalheads”. When the band came back out for their encore, it was probably the most energetic I have seen the crowd the whole night. When I say everybody and their mothers, I truly do mean EVERYBODY AND THEIR MOTHERS was in the pit skanking the night away and having a blast singing and dancing together. The songs they played for their encore were: “The Rest of My Life”, “Johnny Quest Thinks We’re Sellouts”, “Plastic Cup Politics”, and lastly “Gainesville Rock City”.

Remember people, LTJ has been around for quite awhile but they can still play and have a great time. The entire show was great from start to finish. It was nice too because LTJ played some alternate versions of some of their songs which shows they can still catch you by surprise. If you missed this show, you missed one of their best performances in Pittsburgh and their first time ever at Stage AE.
Don’t forget to check out Less Than Jake’s new Album “See the Light” that just came out on 11/12/13!

Streetlight Manifesto Play Show in Library

Streetlight Manifesto, a band that basically revolutionized ska music, just made their (more than likely) final appearance in Pittsburgh’s own Carnegie Music Hall. A band of such high caliber is calling it quits as a “full-time” band and moving on to bigger and better things after their current tour, “The End of The Beginning”, which is only a few shows away from being over. Streetlight has been around for a solid decade and over those years, they have had a lot of issues with their record label, Victory Records, which seems to be a re-occurring event for any band signed to them lately. Not just because of that though, but they feel as if it is time to settle down a bit and move on with their lives and musical careers. Start fresh, enjoy time with family and friends, and simply look back on everything they accomplished. The main concern they said, was that they were afraid of growing old and playing the same songs over and over again by just going through the motions. Any band could agree with that statement; mainly because it just takes all the fun out of playing shows. To quickly sum this all up before getting into the details, if you missed this show… you missed a fine spectacle and the end of a decade of dedication and fun filled adventures.

When arriving to the Carnegie Music Hall in Homestead (and searching for quite awhile to find parking), you could just feel it in the air, that their was a ska concert about to unfold upon us all. This being the last time anyone could ever see Streetlight Manifesto, it was not surprising in the least. After entering the Music Hall, it was an odd venue to be playing in, but the band later announced, and I quote, “We were sick of playing in churches and bars, so we said, lets play a show in a library!” When gazing upon the crowd from up above on the balcony, it was impressive to see how many people were there; at least five hundred, give or take. When Streetlight came on, you just knew that the crowd was going to go insane. They started off very strong with their first couple songs, which included: “With Any Sort of Certainty” and “We Will Fall Together”. As the third song kicked in, “Down, Down, Down to Mephisto’s Cafe”, Streetlights frontman Tomas Kalnoky had to stop the song about half way through to stop the security guard from kicking someone out. Tomas started to tell the security guard off because all the kid was doing was dancing and NOT hurting anyone. After that incident before they finished the song, Tomas stated that “Everyone have fun, dance and sing, just don’t hurt each other and have a good time.” I could not agree more with him.

Later on, after the security guard issue, the band changed up the pace of the show with some more laid back acoustic songs that had the crowd in a huge sing along. But of course, it was only for a few songs before they kicked back in to some more of their up-beat songs. Throughout the night, everyone in the band got to “strut their stuff” with their instruments to make it quite entertaining for the crowd. Everyone had good vibes and having a good time singing and dancing which is what a ska show is truly all about.

The last couple of songs that the band played was: “A Moment of Silence” right into “A Moment of Violence”, then finishing up with “Watch it Crash”. This was all before their encore of course, which was “Somewhere in the Between”. To think that after all the previous songs they played, that the crowd would be dead out of energy; well that was not even close to being the case. I don’t even remember their being a moment during the entire show that they stopped moshing, dancing, singing, etc.

In the end, I was beyond ecstatic to see Streetlight Manifesto this one last time. Their stage performance was extremely entertaining, consistently on time and highly energetic. This was a show worth not just seeing, but experiencing to say the least. Lastly, huge props to Tomas for standing up for the kid who almost got kicked out and correcting the issue. To stop a show dead in its tracks to do that, shows a lot in character and gains my respect by making sure the fans are taken care of.