Launch Music Conference ft Ice Nine Kills & more!

I feel I’ve earned the title of the “ Ice Nine Kills girl ” in my local concert scene. With their logo tattooed on my arm, my Google Drive full of photos from the last 5 years, and my car full of CDs spanning their entire career, my love for this band has become no secret. So at 10 pm, September 10th, seeing in my inbox, I was approved to shoot another Ice Nine show, I just about cried. 2 years without a concert is just about the worst possible thing for a concert photographer, especially two years without my favorite band playing shows. So I loaded my car, and drove the 3 odd hours to Lancaster, PA for the Launch Music Conference.

A venue of this size is intimidating after not shooting a show for a long time, so making my way to the photo pit was the scariest thing I had done in months. The night kicked off New Jersey natives, Enox.

 It was hard not to bang your head to the punchy guitars, crashing drums, and the vocals full of emotion and frustration. They started the night off with an insane amount of energy, getting the crowd warmed up for what else was to come.

Gladiators took the stage next, offering a vibey, heavy performance. The melodic vocals mixed with the deep and bassy guitars, I was in awe of the somehow soft, but powerful performance. The PA band offered a different vibe to the night, setting them apart from the heavy, angry acts we’d see with them. Speaking to them after their sets, they were overwhelmingly kind, and super supportive of all the artists attending the show. It was heartwarming to see a band connecting with fans after two years of isolation, and I could tell how much it meant to the guys in Gladiators.

Lancaster hometown act Hawk was a band I had never seen, despite following singer/guitarist Ricky Armellino’s music since This Or The Apocalypse. It was exciting to see a band I knew, and being able to scream the words back at them had me smiling their entire set. They offer a simple, yet insanely unique approach to metalcore. Ricky’s vocals pack a punch, complimenting the heavy, beautiful guitar work. I could see the emotion in their performance, the entire band clearly overwhelmed to be performing in front of their hometown. There were familiar faces I had seen at shows, all of them looking at the stage with happiness, excitement, and a proudness you rarely see at shows anymore.

Currents was a band I had seen open for bands before, and I heavily regret not giving them my full attention in years past. The energy was turned up to eleven, crowd surfers hammering the barricade. Currents may seem like a traditional metal band at heart, but their music seems to fill your body, forcing you to start moving. It was a chaotic set to shoot, all of us photographers moving to try and capture the incredible stage presence of the band in front of us. After the shoot, I was beyond excited to hand my camera off to a friend, and jump in the pit myself.

I had seen Ice Nine Kills 10 times before this show. I knew all the songs. I knew all the words. I was expecting a typical, incredible set from them. But this set seemed to move me more than usual. INK isn’t exactly a band with sentimental songs, as horror movies and theatrics have taken a hold on their music. But I felt myself getting choked up watching their set. It had been so long since I saw them, that the tears filled my eyes before I even knew. It’s a bit awkward to have tears pouring down your face while your favorite band sings about slashers and demons, but it wasn’t about the music. It was about all the people I had missed over the pandemic. The friends I made and haven’t seen in years. The ability to use my camera and make more art. Their set was, as usual, outstanding. Spencer works the crowd in a way that no frontman could, the other members of the band adding to the chaos happening in the crowd behind me. The horror behind their music comes to life with chaotic vocals, costumes, and of course their amazing makeup artist, Shevy, dressing up as the final girls from the movies inspiring their songs. They make the movies you love come to life before your eyes. It was so rare to see a band who sounds just as good live as they do on record, their entire performance rivaling any movie you could see. My 15 minutes were up before I knew it, and I made my way into the crowd, and finally let loose. Two years without a moshpit, without friends to headbang with. It was an emotional night. The exhaustion didn’t hit my bones until I finally sat down in my bed. 

This tour is a gift for everyone involved. Fans, bands, crew and security. Everyone missed this. I know I did. I eagerly look forward to seeing Ice Nine Kills on the second leg of this tour. And I can’t wait to see what every single band on this bill has coming for the future.

Review & photography courtesy of Emily Sulkowski

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Erra & Northlane w/ Currents and Crystal Lake | Neon Alien Tour | Photos + Review

Erra and Northlane Invade Anaheim, CA and Bring Forth The Neon Alien Tour

Venue: Chain Reaction on 9/14/19

When this insane tour was announced, I was thoroughly excited. I am a big fan of Erra as a band, with their style mixing progressive metal with metalcore and post hardcore, which is why I am similarly a fan of Northlane. Knowing these two bands would be co-headlining was nuts. Supporting these two bands were Currents and Crystal lake, two amazing bands who also slay it on stage. This show ranked as one of the best I’ve been to this year so far.

First up was Crystal Lake from Tokyo, Japan. The best way I could describe Crystal Lake is progressive metalcore mixed with metalcore and nu-metal. Although their albums sometimes have clean vocals, the band played a heavier set for this tour. They played seven songs in their 25-minute set, 5 of which came from their newest album “Helix”, which was released in 2019 via SharpTone Records. I have had the opportunity to see Crystal Lake twice this year and they were absolutely insane both times. Their stage energy is absolutely nuts, with vocalist Ryo Kinoshita full on running and jumping into the crowd. The rest of this five-piece consists of guitarists Yudai Miyamoto and Shinya Hori, drummer Gaku Taura, and bassist Bitoku Sakamoto. Major props to Gaku for holding down the fort on drums and playing some of the fastest drum parts I’ve ever heard, which is especially showcased in the band’s song Aeon. Crystal Lake delivers a truly stellar performance each time I see them and sound even better live than on record.

SETLIST

  1. Hail to the Fire
  2. Six Feet Under
  3. Machina
  4. Helix
  5. Aeon
  6. Lost In Forever
  7. Apollo

Next up was Currents from Connecticut. The best way I could describe Currents is a mixture of metalcore and progressive metal. But their sound is diverse enough for them to even tour with a few deathcore lineups in the past as well. This was my fourth time seeing these guys and they certainly did not disappoint. The band played a mixture of songs from their 2017 release “The Place I Feel Safest” and their 2018 release “I Let The Devil In EP”, which were both released via SharpTone Records. The band played a total of 6-songs, showcasing the diversity in their sound. With more melodic songs like Weathered, to heavier songs like Apnea and In Despair, Currents proved just how much of a force they are in the scene as an up and coming band. This five-piece consists of vocalist Brian Wille, lead guitarist Chris Wiseman, bassist Christian Pulgarin, rhythm guitarist Ryan Castaldi, and drummer Matt Young. This band has grown a lot in the short two-year span since I first saw them, and I cannot wait to see them again next time they come out here!

SETLIST

  1. Into Despair
  2. Apnea
  3. The Rope
  4. Withered
  5. Forever Marked
  6. Night Terrors

Next up was the first of the two co-headliners, that being Erra from Birmingham, Alabama. This band has been one of my favorites since I heard their 2016 album “Drift”, which was released via Sumerian Records. For their co-headliner, the band had programmed lighting for the first time and prepared a mixed set that showcased a lot of songs from 2018’s “Neon” and 2016’s “Drift”, as well as showcasing a couple songs from the band’s older records and even played their newest single “Eye of God”. They put together a truly incredible set, with songs rooted in deep emotion and issues ranging from depression, loss, and mourning. Erra has a deep part of my heart, as they were the first band that shared one of my photos back in the day before I even considered doing this for a living. It meant the world to me and to this day I am forever grateful for this band to give me the motivation to continue forth. Erra’s stage presence is dynamic, with intricate and dynamic lighting matching the complex guitar parts and rhythm patterns the band is very well known for. JT Cavey is the ultimate frontman, engaging the crowd with his intense vocal abilities you can tell are rooted in the deep emotions of the songs. The rest of this five-piece consists of guitarist and clean vocalist Jesse Cash, guitarist Sean Price, drummer Alex Ballew, and bassist Conor Hesse. Their set was incredible, but insanely hot in the room; So hot in fact that vocalist JT had to run off the stage midset to catch his’ breath due to the intense heat. Erra made this show truly surreal for me, and I highly recommend listening to their music and seeing them at a show near you!

SETLIST

  1. Irreversible
  2. Dreamcatcher
  3. Ghost of Nothing
  4. Drift
  5. Orchid
  6. Luminesce
  7. Eye of God
  8. Breach
  9. Monolith
  10. Dementia
  11. Hybrid Earth
  12. Skyline

Finally, Northlane from Sydney, Australia came to the stage. This five-piece is best described as a mixture between progressive metal, metalcore, and nu-metal. This was the band’s first time touring North America since their tour with Architects (UK) in 2016, and they surely did not disappoint this time around. Their setlist mostly consisted of songs from their newest album “Alien” which was released in 2019 via UNFD Records, as well as songs from their 2017 album “Mesmer”, their 2015 album “Node”, as well as a couple of songs from their first two albums “Singularity” and “Discoveries”. The band came out swinging with “Talking Heads”. From the moment they hit the stage, the crowd was going nuts, with the entire crowd turning into a mosh pit with the addition of crowdsurfers galore. The heat that had been accumulating in the room rose even further during their set. Being practically a sauna in the room, the band continued on with their 13-song set, which blew me away. They are musically talented, and their stage presence was stellar as well. Using the same lighting set up as Erra, the programmed lighting worked perfectly to convey the atmosphere of the songs. This five-piece consists of vocalist Marcus Bridge, guitarist and programmer Jonathon Deiley, guitarist Josh Smith, drummer Nic Petterson, and bassist Brendon Padjasek. Northlane put on a stellar set and closed out the night of performances brilliantly.

SETLIST

  1. Talking Heads
  2. Intuition
  3. Details Matter
  4. Obelisk
  5. Rot
  6. Bloodline
  7. 4D
  8. Freefall
  9. Vultures
  10. Eclipse
  11. Citizen

ENCORE

  1. Dispossession
  2. Quantum Flux

The Neon Alien Tour was amazing from the moment Crystal Lake entered the stage to the moment Northlane finished their set. This mixture of bands was honestly perfect and kept the night of music flowing amazingly. Erra especially put on an amazing set and was the highlight of the night for me. Make sure to check out each of these bands out when they play a city near you!

Northlane | Erra | Currents | Crystal Lake

Photos + Review Courtesy of Jamie Kaufman | Instagram

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Fit For A King – Summer North American Tour 2018

To view all photos from Fit For A King’s Summer NA Tour 2018, click the links below.

NOBLE band | Currents Like Moths to Flames | Fit For A King

Photography courtesy of Jamie Kaufman

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