A Day To Remember w/ Asking Alexandria & Point North | The Re-Entry Tour | 10/13/21 | Photos + Review

Point North

Asking Alexandria

A Day To Remember

A Day To Remember | Asking Alexandria | Point North

Photos courtesy of Jess Kelly | Instagram | Twitter

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State Champs w/ Real Friends, Four Year Strong, Just Friends, and Bearings | Pure Noise Records Tour 2021 | 10/10/21 | Photos + Review

As soon as I saw that this tour was announced, I knew that I had to go. The lineup was stacked, and with some of my all-time favorite pop-punk bands were all on this – State Champs, Four Year Strong, Real Friends, Just Friends, and Bearings.

First up was Bearings. The crowd was slowly starting to pour in before they took the stage. I remember the first time I saw them, and I didn’t know who they were. I instantly fell in love with their music because of the lyrics in the songs they played and was upbeat and happy. The type of music that makes you want to jump around and start singing along. I wasn’t expecting to see many crowd surfers during their set, but to my surprise, there was and their frontman, Doug Cousins even jumped off stage to help people coming over the barricade. They played songs off their newest album, “Hello, It’s You,” and some of their older songs from the past. Bearings set the show off with energy to carry on throughout the night.

Following Bearings, Just Friends was up next. It’s been a few years since I had last seen them live on Sad Summer Fest, and I wasn’t sure what to expect from them. It was the strangest yet most hypnotizing band I’ve seen in my years of going to concerts. They danced and swayed to the music and got the crowd hyped during the opening song, “Supersonic.” I’ve never seen a band like them with their energy and stage presence. At one point, most of the band turned around and started shaking their butts to the crowd. Everyone was cheering while Eric Butler slapped the bassists’ butt and taking a phone out, and taking selfies and random pictures of the other band members on stage during “Never Gonna Bring You Down” and “Flex.”

Next, we had one of my favorite bands playing – Four Year Strong. I’ve been listening to them since 2009 and have seen them countless times over the years, and they never disappoint. Starting off with “Heroes Get Remembered, Legends Never Die” the crowd exploded while the lights flashed, and everyone was singing along. The set was a mix of songs from multiple albums, including their newest, “Brain Pain.” released last year. People were slowly coming back over the barricade crowd surfing, but even more, came during the third song they played, “It Must Really Suck to Be Four Year Strong Right Now.” The tempo was upbeat and fast-paced and the whole time. I always lose my voice when I see them live as the music is so much fun to listen to and scream to the top of your lungs.

Real Friends came out next. I was excited to see them live as this was my first time. I have almost every single album from them, and once I heard in 2020 that they parted ways with Dan Lambton, I was sad but excited to see what the future held for them. Cody Murano, formerly of Parting Ways and Youth Fountain, they came back with their newest album, “Torn in Two.” It’s been on repeat since it came out for me, and they played a mix of songs from that album, as well as older classics such as “I Don’t Love You Anymore,” “Late Nights in My Car,” and “Me First.” I was impressed with the sound, the lighting, and the energy they had on stage.

Then, it was time for the headliner – State Champs. Yet another band I’ve seen countless times over the years since I first discovered them. They started off with “Secrets” while cryo and streamers emerged from the stage. The venue was packed with people; everyone was singing along, more people came over the barricade, crowd surfing while the photographers did their best not to get hit or kicked in the process for the three songs. I was singing the whole time as they’re one of my favorite bands, and the energy they show on stage is unmatched. They played older songs such as “Elevated,” “Criminal,” and “Mine Is Gold,” as well as some of the newer songs they’ve released recently like “Just Sound” and their cover of Fall Out Boy’s “Chicago Is So Two Years.” After the last song, the house lights stayed off, meaning that they have encore songs. They came out from behind the stage and ended the night with more pryo and playing “All You Are Is History” and “Dead and Gone.” The whole show was full of energy throughout the entire night, making it one of the favorites I’ve been to in the last 19 months since the pandemic started.

State Champs | Real Friends | Four Year Strong | Just Friends | Bearings

Photos + Review courtesy of Jess Kelly | Instagram | Twitter

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Butcher Babies w/ Infected Rain, Stitched Up Heart, & The Unsung | Butcher Babies VS. Goliath Tour | 10/7/21 | Photos + Review

Butcher Babies Slay Their Final Battle Against Goliath at 1720 in Los Angeles, CA

Venue: 1720 in Los Angeles, CA

Date: 10/7/21

When a band hits their 10-year milestone of being together, that is a huge accomplishment that deserves celebration. Unfortunately, that milestone for Butcher Babies came during the global COVID-19 pandemic, where they couldn’t party like the rockstars they are. One year later, the band came back with a vengeance to dominate the country with their first headlining tour in well over two years, where the band would play their debut album “Goliath” in its entirety, along with other songs. In the battle against Goliath were: Infected Rain, Stitched Up Heart, and local support from The Unsung. With this quartet of bands, Butcher Babies led the clan to victory at the final date of the Butcher Babies VS. Goliath Tour!

Up first was The Unsung from San Diego, CA. This quartet is the perfect example of progressive metalcore. One thing I always note whenever I see The Unsung live is just how tight these guys are. Like bands like Periphery, Veil of Maya, and many more in the genre, the vocals are a great mixture of cleans and screaming, courtesy of Tyler Sinclair. However, what sets them apart is that their music tends to have more cleans than screaming, which helps them reach a wider audience. Guitarist Devin Castro is an absolute beast, creating melodic hooks, leads, and solos that shred the hell out of the crowd. Drummer Garret Brown is a beast, playing many different styles and rhythmic patterns throughout the band’s music, sometimes changing time signature and tempos mid-song, which is common within the progressive metal genre. Closing out the band’s lineup is Thomas Sumstine on bass, who absolutely SLAYS adding in those deep grooves and tones that are pretty much essential to the music The Unsung releases. The band played a total of 7 songs, bringing out songs from their first EP, “Rise,” for the first time in a while, along with songs from their sophomore EP “Sin Cera” and new singles “Manic” and “Awake.” The band also brought their iconic light show with them, which adds that extra edge and atmosphere that helps set the tone. It was an epic start to the show, and I am so happy to have seen them again! The last time was around Christmas time in 2019, so it had been almost 2 years without hangs and without seeing this epic band live.

SETLIST

  1. Manic
  2. Herald
  3. Awake
  4. Rise
  5. Lacuna
  6. Chosen
  7. Desolation

Up next was Stitched Up Heart from Los Angeles, CA. I last saw and photographed Stitched Up Heart back in 2019, so I was excited to see and photograph them again and do so at an actual venue, this time and not at a bar. I’d best describe Stitched Up Heart’s sound as a combination between gothic metal, hard rock, and alternative metal. Touring alongside bands across the hard rock and metal genres, they have a sound that is quite versatile and diverse. The band started their set with the song “This Skin” from their 2020 album “Darkness,” released via Century Media Records. This song has a light electronic backing in parts and the downtuned guitar and bass tones, making the song a bit more light sounding than a lot of their other music. You could hear vocalist Mixi’s singing on full display out of the gate, showing a newfound strength and force behind her vocals that I didn’t hear at the last show. The second song, “Warrior,” also came from their newest album and is more of a stadium rock-style track. Those bass tones courtesy of Randy Mathias are on full display in this song, along with the crushing beats from drummer James Decker. The band then went on to their third song, “Catch Me When I Fall,” from their 2016 album “Finally Free.” Overall, this album has a darker vibe, and the guitar tones are much more gritty and dark, and guitarist Merritt Goodwin delivers on this tenfold. The band played a total of seven songs throughout their thirty-minute set, completely blowing my expectations out of the water. As it was the last day of the tour, there happened to be the last day of tour pranks. The other bands ran on stage during the band’s final song, “Monster,” and started randomly taking apart Decker’s drum kit mid-song. It was pretty funny, to say the least, and it made me wonder what pranks would come going forward. Stitched Up Heart as a whole seems to have stepped things up since the lockdown, really fine-tuning things and coming back tighter than ever.

SETLIST

  1. This Skin
  2. Warrior
  3. Catch Me When I Fall
  4. Finally Free
  5. Lost
  6. My Demon
  7. Monster

Up next as direct support was Infected Rain from Chisinau, Moldova. I got into Infected Rain’s music shortly after 2019’s “Endorphin” was unleashed to the world via Napalm Records. This was the band’s first US tour, as their 2020 tour with Swallow The Sun was cancelled due to the pandemic. The band’s sound is the perfect combination of metalcore, melodic death metal, and progressive metal. The band started their set with the song “Pendulum” from that 2019 album I just mentioned. This song is the perfect showcasing of vocalist Lena Scissorhands’ vocal prowess, showing a good amount of her harsh fry screaming, along with lots of her cleans, making for probably their most dynamic song on “Endorphin.” A core part of the band’s sound is downtuned guitars with djenty riffs, courtesy of Vadim “Vidick” Ojog and Serghei Babici. The band then went on to their second song, “Mold,” from their 2017 record “86”, which the band released independently. A big part of progressive metal is the deep, intricate bass tones provided by Vladimir Babich. The band is tight as all hell, and the foundation of any tight band is the drummer, whose part is essential in terms of tempo and keeping on the beat. Drummer Eugene Voluta is an absolute beast on stage, demolishing those double bass parts and obliterating the stage. The band moved onto their third song, “Black Gold,” one of the singles from that 2019 record “Endorphin.” In my honest opinion, Infected Rain blew me away with their control of the stage and just how tight they were. I was very much looking forward to their set, and they did not disappoint. Just like with Stitched Up Heart, Infected Rain found themselves in the midst of the end of tour pranks. During the final song, “Sweet, Sweet Lies,” of the band’s ten-song set, members from Butcher Babies and Stitched Up Heart came on stage and unleashed a pillow fight onto the members of Infected Rain. It was an all-out pillow fight to the death, and I couldn’t help but hysterically laugh. Infected Rain was absolutely incredible and set a very high bar for the whole night.

SETLIST

  1. Pendulum
  2. Mold
  3. Black Gold
  4. Passerby
  5. Freaky Carnival
  6. Endless Stairs
  7. Fool the Gravity
  8. Orphan Soul
  9. The Earth Mantra

Sweet, Sweet Lies

Finally, Butcher Babies come home to Los Angeles, CA, and hit the stage! For the band’s tenth anniversary tour, they decided to play eight of the twelve songs from their debut 2013 album “Goliath,” released via Century Media Records. I would best describe the band’s sound as a perfect blend between metalcore, death metal, thrash metal, and progressive metal. The band came prepared for this tour, with a light show and headbangs galore. Opening the show with “I Smell A Massacre,” the stage lit up bright red, showcasing the brutality and grittiness these songs from “Goliath” have. This first song is a fast one and showcases the vocal stylings of Heidi Shephard and Carla Harvey. Carla has a deeper guttural sound, while Heidi has the high screams on point. They both have a mixture of clean singing and screaming in their registers during this opening song, really showcasing a large amount of variety within this heavy song. Their second song, “The Mirror Never Lies,” opens up with this groovy guitar hook that can be heard throughout the song, courtesy of guitarist Henry Flury. This song is just groove central, even showcasing the bass in the forefront in sections. It’s moments like this where each member really shines, and you really feel all of the puzzle pieces individually come together. I love me a groovy djent song, and those bass tones from Ricky Bonazza are really showcased deep in the roots of this groove-heavy song. The band then moved on to their third song, the popular single from 2015’s “Take It Like A Man” titled “Monsters Ball.” This song is super thrashy, groovy, and heavy. You can really hear the intricate drum parts from drummer Chase Brickenden as he slams those drums to his’ heart’s content. “Monsters Ball” was the song that got me into the band in the first place, so to photograph them during this song was AMAZING. The band played many other songs from Goliath, my personal favorite being “In Denial.” This song has a classic metalcore vibe and is more on the tame side while also being heavy. It has the perfect yin and yang. The band also played quite a few of their new singles, such as “Bottom of a Bottle,” “It’s Killin’ Time, Baby!”, “Sleeping With the Enemy,” and “Yorktown.” They even played a game of Red Light, Green Light with the crowd, paying homage to the viral Netflix sensation “Squid Games.” Their set was absolutely incredible, and they seem to have somehow leveled up since the last time I saw them back in 2018. They absolutely killed it and proved why they are still so beloved 11 years after their debut in the scene. They definitely defeated Goliath in Los Angeles.

SETLIST

  1. I Smell a Massacre
  2. The Mirror Never Lies
  3. Monsters Ball
  4. It’s Killin’ Time, Baby!
  5. C8H18 (Gasoline)
  6. Grim Sleeper
  7. In Denial
  8. Bottom of a Bottle
  9. The Deathsurround
  10. Axe Wound
  11. Sleeping With The Enemy
  12. Yorktown

ENCORE

13. They’re Coming To Take Me Away, Ha-Haaa! (Napoleon XIV cover)

14. Magnolia Blvd.

Butcher Babies put on an excellent tour for their comeback. This tour commemorating their 10 years of being a band was stacked to the brim with a fantastic lineup consisting of Infected Rain, Stitched Up Heart, and local support from The Unsung. This was a fantastic show and will easily be one of my favorites of the year!

Butcher Babies | Infected Rain | Stitched Up Heart | The Unsung

Photos + Review courtesy of Jamie Kaufman | Instagram | Facebook | Twitter

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State Champs w/ Four Year Strong, Real Friends, Just Friends, and Bearings | Pure Noise Records Tour 2021 | Photos + Review

State Champs and co. Slay The Belasco on the Pure Noise Records Tour

Date: 10-6-21

Venue – The Belasco in Los Angeles, CA

I’ve taken in music like a sponge for as long as I could remember going to shows. Being so open-minded musically, I listen to everything from classical to death metal. However, as a photographer, I’ve photographed a ton more metal than I have other genres. Since shows have come back post lockdown, I really wanted to broaden my horizons and photograph and see bands that have always been on my bucket list. State Champs was one of those bands for me. They have always been on my radar with catchy, high energy, and derived from classic pop-punk. But when running a publication, I have to pick and choose my shows and have typically gone for the heavier metal tours over pop-punk as I know others on the team will cover it instead. With the announcement of the Pure Noise Records Tour, I knew this was finally my chance to see and photograph State Champs, but to once again see Four Year Strong, along with other bands I’ve wanted to see and photograph for years and years, like Real Friends, Just Friends, and Bearings. This showcase of bands from the Pure Noise Records lineup was excellent!

First up was Bearings from Ottawa, Canada. The quintet can be best described as the perfect blend between pop-punk and alternative. They opened up the set with “Better Off Yesterday,” which acts as somewhat of a title track off their newest album, “Hello, It’s You,” released in 2020 via Pure Noise Records. Off the bat, vocalist Dougie Cousins took command of that stage, belting out those words in tune with the major key. A staple element to any pop-punk band is that most songs are in major keys, which is a massive change-up compared to the metal I typically see and photograph. I’m all here for a change and branching out here. Guitarist Ryan Culligan acts as a backing vocalist, sometimes singing lead parts and adding harmonies that add the extra touch to the band’s songs. The second song in the set was “Aforementioned” from their 2018 release “Blue In The Dark.” This song definitely incorporates some of their indie and alternative influences, and drummer Mike McKerracher was pounding away at his drum kit with a big smile on his face throughout the whole song. Bassist Collin Hanes and guitarist Ryan Fits were grooving along during the third song, in particular, that being “Over Now,” which once again came from their 2020 release. The band just seems to really enjoy what they’re doing, and with the music they create, and you can’t help but vibe and headbang along with them. Bearings was incredibly endearing and had positively infectious energy throughout their six-song set. I cannot wait to see and photograph them again!

SETLIST

  1. Better Yesterday
  2. Aforementioned
  3. Over Now
  4. Dreams
  5. Eyes Closed
  6. Sway

Up next was Just Friends from Dublin, California. The band is best described as “funk rock,” but to me, they are honestly a melting pot of genres. They have a blend of funk-rock, alternative rock, pop-rap, ska, and a slight emo vibe that I LIVE for. They had some technical difficulties at the start of their set. Still, co-lead vocalist Brianda “Brand” Goyos Leon did a good job entertaining the crowd during the downtime. In fact, she was asking us if we had bought anything cool recently, and I held up my hand sanitizer holder, which is a unicorn cat whose horn lights up when a button is pushed. Well, Brand held it up to the crowd and yells “LOOK HOW COOL THIS IS!!” I started dying laughing, and it’s now kind of an inside joke between us, which I now have looped you all in on too! After the band fixed their technical difficulties, they started the set with their song “I Wanna Love You” from their 2018 album “Nothing But Love,” released in 2018 via Pure Noise Records. I love the vocal dynamics between Sam Kless and Brand throughout their set, with Sam providing the rapping and some singing and Brand providing her bluesy tones that really amp everything up. The next song was the band’s most popular single, “Supersonic.” This song gets the crowd dancing. You can see guitarists Brandon Downum and Matt Yankovich, along with bassist Kevin Prochnow, dancing to choreographed moves to the song while playing their instruments. It’s an absolute bop and a half of a song, so much so that I couldn’t help but stop shooting for a second and dance along with them. The band played a total of five songs, each truly showcasing their talent and range as a group. They were an absolute blast to see and photograph, and I would absolutely love the opportunity to do so again!

SETLIST

  1. I Wanna Love You
  2. Supersonic
  3. Fever
  4. Stupid
  5. Sunflower

Real Friends from Tinley Park, Illinois, was up next. Coming fresh off their new EP “Torn In Two,” released in 2021 via Pure Noise Records, the band set out on this tour as their first tour post-lockdown. This new release for the band was a new chapter in a couple of ways. It was their first release under Pure Noise Records, as they were previously signed to Fearless Records before this. The EP was also their first release with vocalist Cody Muraro. The band opened their set with the song “Nervous Wreck” from this new EP, showcasing their new music right off the bat. Cody is incredibly high energy, constantly jumping, hyping up the crowd, and owning every inch of that stage. The band came prepared for this tour, with a simple yet effective lighting set up behind them, adding a lot of contrast between the darkness and light behind them. Guitarist Dave Knox provided his excellent backing vocals and high energy when not being the mic. The band then moved on to “Me First,” from their last release on Fearless Records released in 2018 titled “Composure.” You could just see how happy the members were to be playing again. Drummer Brian Blake was constantly smiling while playing those fast pop-punk beats. Bassist Kyle Fasel held down the rhythm section with Brian, strumming those deep bass tones that bring the band’s sound to the next level. The band then moved on to the song “I Don’t Love You Anymore,” which came from their 2014 album released via Fearless Records titled “Maybe This Place Is The Same, And We’re Just Changing.” This is where I really honed in on rhythm guitarist Eric Haines, who strummed his parts with precision and seemed ecstatic to be performing again. To finally see these guys after many years of listening to them brought me a ton of excitement. Their pop-punk meets emo sound makes their sound both current and new yet feels like an homage to the music that has come in the scene before their emergence. Their nine-song set did a beautiful job of showcasing songs from each release, including two off the new EP. I cannot wait to see and photograph them the next time they come out here. If this new EP shows a glimmer of what’s to come for the band, there’s no stopping this band!

SETLIST

  1. Nervous Wreck
  2. Me First
  3. I Don’t Love You Anymore
  4. Late Nights In My Car
  5. Storyteller
  6. I’ve Given Up On You
  7. Get By
  8. Mess
  9. From The Outside

Four Year Strong from Worcester, Massachusetts, was up next to the stage as direct support. As one of the pioneers of the easycore genre, Four Year Strong blends Pop Punk with elements of Post Hardcore. Think of it like pop-punk with breakdowns. These guys were by far the heaviest band on this lineup. I previously saw them at the Rockstar Disrupt Fest back in 2019, and they didn’t have much energy on stage that day I saw them. When I tell you these guys blew my expectations out of the water this time around would be an understatement. The band opened their set with the song “Heroes Get Remembered, Legends Never Die” from their 2007 album “Rise or Die Trying,” released via I Surrender Records. The band showcased their insane light show from the gate, something they did not have when performing at the outdoor music festival I last saw them at. The light show the band had with them was fast-paced, just like the band themselves are. Four Year Strong has a unique dynamic, with two co-lead vocalists who both play guitar for the band, Alan Day and Dan O’Connor. This dynamic of their vocals going back and forth add a lot of energy and superb dynamics to their music. The band then moved on to their second song being “Get Out Of My Head,” from their 2020 album “Brain Pain,” released via Pure Noise Records. Brain Pain is by far my favorite album by Four Year Strong, as it truly showcases the perfect blend of the band’s sound. Get Out Of My Head is a more pop-punk heavy song with lots of punchy energy. There’s a deep bass groove heard throughout the song, which is provided by bassist Joe Weiss. Joe is an energetic bassist, constantly moving about and engaging with the audience. They then moved on to their third song, “It Must Really Suck To Be Four Year Strong Right Now,” from their 2010 album “Enemy of the World,” released via Universal Motown Records. I honed in on drummer Jake Massucco during this song, and that dude RIPS it on drums. As I said, Four Year Strong’s vocals are incredibly fast-paced, and Jake really keeps up with those fast songs, laying out the foundation needed in this kind of music. I am beyond stoked to have seen Four Year Strong again and am stoked that they blew my expectations out of the water! They absolutely killed it throughout their entire nine-song set, and I cannot wait to see them again next time they come through Southern California!

SETLIST

  1. Heroes Get Remembered, Legends Never Die
  2. Get Out Of My Head
  3. It Must Really Suck To Be Four Year Strong Right Now
  4. Learn To Love The Lie
  5. We All Float Down Here
  6. Brain Pain
  7. Go Down In History
  8. Talking Myself In Circles
  9. Wasting Time (Eternal Summer)