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)

Finally, State Champs from Albany, New York, hit the state to absolutely slay the house down! State Champs have been on a steady rise in popularity within the pop-punk and alternative music scenes, starting with their EP “Overslept,” released in 2012 via Pure Noise Records. The band prepared a lengthy sixteen-song set for their headlining set on tour, showcasing songs from each release, starting with “Secrets” from their 2015 album “Around The World And Back.” The band came out the gate with insanely high energy. Vocalist Derek DiScanio had the crowd practically eating out of the palm of his hand the second he came on stage, with crowd surfers galore coming over the barricade throughout my time photographing the set. Like Four Year Strong and Real Friends, the band brought an extensive amount of lighting equipment that made the set feel larger than life and bright as all hell. Guitarist Tyler Szalkowski jumped onto the platform at the start of the set, amping the crowd up. Between the first song, “Secrets,” and the second song, “Crystal Ball,” a fan threw their underwear onto the stage, which landed right in front of bassist Ryan Scott Graham. With a visibly shocked face, Ryan picked up the underwear and put them on his’ mic stand as they proceeded to play “Crystal Ball” from the band’s 2018 album “Living Proof.” This song had bright blue and pink backlighting, which shined bright and vibrant. This is where I saw touring guitarist and backing vocalist Cameron Hurley, who absolutely kills it on stage with the band and meshes right in with their easy-going energy and vibe. The band then went into the song “Frozen,” coming from “Living Proof.” Drummer Evan Ambrosio seemed to be right on par with the rest of the drummers we’ve seen tonight, joyful with lots of smiles and absolutely DOMINATING that stage with his’ beats. The band’s incredibly high energy was evident, and they absolutely did not disappoint. The crowd was heavily engaged, and the band had the most crowdsurfers for any band thus far in the night. During “Frozen,” so many crowd surfers were coming over the barricade that we photographers got kicked out of the photo pit half a song early. I was a bit disappointed, but I got all the shots I needed and got to be up close and personal with a band I’ve wanted to see and photograph for many years at this point. The rest of the set consisted of songs from the band’s releases, a couple of covers, and lots of CO2 cannons shooting out confetti. It was a wild set that I am grateful I was able to witness and capture!

SETLIST

  1. Secrets
  2. Crystal Ball
  3. Frozen
  4. Outta My Head
  5. Mine Is Gold
  6. Easy Enough
  7. Stitches (Shawn Mendes Cover
  8. Chicago Is So Two Years Ago (Fall Out Boy Cover)
  9. Criminal
  10. Just Sound
  11. Remedy
  12. Slow Burn
  13. Losing Myself
  14. Elevated

ENCORE

15. All You Are Is History

16. Dead And Gone

The Pure Noise Records Tour 2021 was an absolute blast. Filled with years of nostalgia and bucket list bands I’ve wanted to see and photograph for quite some time, this made for an exciting evening. Make sure to catch the tour on the east coast during the last few dates if you are nearby!

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

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

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The Black Dahlia Murder w/ After The Burial, Carnifex, Rivers of Nihil, and Undeath | Up From The Sewer Tour | Photos + Review

The Black Dahlia Murder Returns To California With A Bang Selling Out The Belasco

Date: September 18th, 2021

Venue: The Belasco in Los Angeles, CA

The Black Dahlia Murder is a band I constantly see live whenever they come through Southern California. As one of the staples of the melodic death metal genre, they are continually one-upping themselves with each record, staying true to who they are musically but constantly grinding like the madmen they are. Due to the ongoing COVID-19 situation, a lot of their touring surrounding their newest album, “Verminous,” was put on hold, and in such, this is their first tour back after all of the chaos. Unsurprisingly, the tour sold out like crazy, with over two-thirds of the dates being completely sold out, with the others close to selling out as well. Not only did The Black Dahlia Murder play quite a stacked setlist, but they brought along a beastly lineup of bands. The supporting lineup consisted of After The Burial, Carnifex, Rivers of Nihil, and Undeath. With a lineup this stacked, it was no wonder why the Los Angeles date was the first on the tour to sell out.

Undeath from Rochester, New York, was the first up to the stage. Coining themselves as “skull-crushing death metal,” it is no wonder why this is the perfect term to describe these guys. Their music is HEAVY. I had to bold that word because it needed emphasis.  With a gritty barebones sound similar to staple bands of the death metal genre like Dying Fetus, Nile, Cannibal Corpse, and more, this brutal death metal style set them apart from the rest of the bands on this lineup. Their vocalist Alexander Jones did a great job of crowd management. He owned that whole stage with his’ distinct vocals that you can tell have a slight black metal influence. Bassist Tommy Wall spanked that bass to give it those deep thick tones pumping through and prominent throughout Undeath’s sound. Guitarists Jared Welch and Kyle Beam add the riffage, really adding that gritty sound that pays homage to the death metal greats that came before them. The final member that closes out the band’s lineup is their drummer Matt Browning, who plays those stank beats with precision. When listening to the band’s album and witnessing their live set, I also feel a slight thrash vibe in their music, prominent throughout the brutal death metal genre. That gritty edge was showcased on their debut album “Lesions of a Different Kind,” released in 2020 via Prosthetic Records. They played 3 songs from this release, 1 song from their 2019 independent EP “Sentient Autolysis,” and one unreleased song that I, unfortunately, do not know the name of. Overall, these guys were a great way to start out the show and really set the stage for those to come with their high energy and brutal riffs.

SETLIST

  1. Enhancing the Dead
  2. (Unknown)
  3. Acidic Twilight Visions
  4. Chained to a Reeking Rotted Body
  5. Lesions of a Different Kind

The next band up was the ever so talented Rivers of Nihil from Reading, Pennsylvania. I first saw Rivers of Nihil back in 2018 when they opened for Thy Art Is Murder and Dying Fetus, and I already thought they were great then. But boy have they risen in my ranks since then. Initially, the band’s style was very much in line with the rest of those in the technical death metal genre: fast-paced, heavy, and riffy. However, as the band found their groove and started experimenting, they started moving more into the realm of progressive metal, mixing in clean vocals, and creating a cinematic style within their music. With their new record, The Work, just weeks away from debuting to the world, we as the audience were lucky to hear two of the new songs live, those being “Clean” and “Focus.” Within the new songs, you can really hear the power of vocalist Jake Dieffenbach and bassist/clean vocalist Adam Biggs’ voices. The new songs, along with the songs from their 2018 release “Where The Owls Know My Name,” have a lot of dynamics. But it seems that Jake and Adam have a good number of trade-offs in terms of vocals with The Work. They were the only band at the show to have clean vocals, and the change really felt needed as their set was well-rounded, and I couldn’t hold back a smile underneath my mask. Drummer Jared Klein is an absolute beast behind the kit, and my eyes always go to him because some of the technical parts he plays blow me away. Guitarists Brody Uttley and Jon Topore help create the atmosphere with their melodic instrumentals, paired with Uttley’s lead guitar solos and hooks. Honestly, Rivers of Nihil continue to get better and better every time I see them, and they constantly blow away any expectations I had prior. I cannot wait to see where this band goes with the release of “The Work,” which came out in 2021 via Metal Blade Records. You MUST all check out this band and see live if you have not yet done so.

SETLIST

  1. The Silent Life
  2. Focus
  3. Clean
  4. Sand Baptism
  5. Where The Owls Know My Name

The third band up to the stage was Carnifex from San Diego, CA. Carnifex has been one of the leading deathcore bands for quite some time, being one of the genre’s founders. Coming hot off the release of their newest album, “Graveside Confessions,” out now via Nuclear Blast Records, I was stoked to hear how the new songs would sound live. The lead singles from the record “Pray For Peace” and the title track “Graveyard Confessions” sounded epic and translated very well live. The band started their set with the title track from their 2019 record, “World War X,” and also played some of the band’s most famous songs, “Slit Wrist Savior” and “Lie To My Face,” which the band re-recorded for the new album “Graveside Confessions.” The band closed out the set with the title track from their 2010 album “Hell Chose Me,” which got the crowd wild. From the start of the set to the end, I was stoked.

As usual, the band had their large lit-up pentagrams, but they also had a bright lighting setup on stage with many strobing lights that were very well lit and timed. Vocalist Scott Ian Lewis is an absolute beast on stage, genuinely taking every inch in and captivating the crowd. Carnifex was one of the first death metal bands I got into, which came with their 2016 album “Slow Death.” What drew me straight in was the symphonic backing, along with Scott’s vocals. Something evident in Carnifex’s music is just how intricate and technical their drumming parts are, and that is all courtesy of the ever so talented Shawn Cameron on drums. This dude is an absolute beast and truly has me in awe when I hear how fast some of his parts are. A significant change from the last time I saw Carnifex to now is the band going from having two guitarists down to one. Still, guitarist Cory Arford did not disappoint in the slightest. He absolutely killed it on those leads and shredded it on that stage. Closing out the band’s lineup is Fred Calderon, who provides the headbangs and the deep tones from his bass. Bass, in my opinion, is the most underrated instrument when it comes to bands. To me, the bass is one of the most essential, as it adds some of the deeper undertones that can really bring the music to the next level, and Fred does that very well. All in all, Carnifex is an absolutely insane band to see live and is very consistent when it comes to theatrics and musicianship.

SETLIST

  1. World War X
  2. Pray For Peace
  3. Slit Wrist Savior
  4. Graveside Confessions
  5. Lie To My Face
  6. Hell Chose Me

Up next as direct support was the ever so talented band After The Burial from Minneapolis, Minnesota. Unfortunately, vocalist Anthony Notarmaso became sick on tour and lost his voice. The band continued on and played instrumentally, which the crowd went WILD for. After the Burial is a very technical band instrumentally. Thanks to their odd time signatures, guitar tones, and fast pacing, the band is well known in the progressive metal genre, constantly teetering between metalcore and deathcore territory. Having the instrumentals showcased in the forefront was an absolutely incredible sight and audible experience. Guitarist Trent Hafdahl was on full display. His leads and backing vocal parts were at the forefront of the band’s performance. They had beautifully timed and strobed lighting that added to the overall experience and performance. The crowd went wild when the band started the set with the fan-favorite song “Lost In The Static.” During the next song, “In Flux,” I couldn’t help but really tune in to bass player Adrian Oropeza. Adrian is really vibing on stage, with his headbanging and downtuned bass tones really adding the grit and djenty sound that the band is known for. Dan Carle closes out the band’s rhythm section, and he is by far one of the most on-point and technical drummers in the progressive metal scene, not missing a beat. I especially noticed it during the third song in the set, “Collapse.” After I left the photo pit, I got to see just how nuts the crowd was going. With a moshpit about twice the size as it was prior, they were absolutely mesmerized by the technicality and prowess the band showcased. During the lead single “Behold The Crown,” from the band’s 2019 album “Evergreen,” released via Sumerian Records, I especially saw this energy from the crowd with one of the fastest and most violent circle pits of the night. The band played two more songs before closing out their incredible set, those songs being “Exist, Exist,” and “A Wolf Among Ravens.” I am incredibly proud of these guys for trooping on through their vocalist being sick. Them playing instrumentally was incredible and wowed the whole audience in attendance.

SETLIST

  1. Lost In The Static
  2. In Flux
  3. Collapse
  4. Behold The Crown
  5. Exist, Exist
  6. A Wolf Among Ravens

The Black Dahlia Murder hailing from Waterford, Michigan, finally hit the stage next. To say they obliterated the stage with their talent would be an understatement. Being a band with 20 years and nine albums under their belt, they had a lot of songs to choose from for their set. I think they created a setlist that was both dynamic and crowd-pleasing. The band opened up the show with “I Will Return” from the 2009 album “Deflorate,” released via Metal Blade Records, which is the record label the band has been with thus far throughout their career. This is typically the band’s closing track when they headline, so it was cool to hear it at the beginning of the set. One thing that cannot be ignored when seeing The Black Dahlia Murder live is vocalist Trevor Strnad’s vocal prowess and control over the crowd. His vocal tone and stage presence combined have made him a figurehead within the death metal community. With crowd surfers galore and tons of moshing in the pit, the band quickly moved on to the title track “Verminous” from their newest album from 2020 that reached number 99 on the billboard 200. Strnad stated himself that the addition of guitarist Brandon Ellis was really showcased on this record. While Ellis was also a part of their 2017 record “Nightbringers,” his style and musicianship really took the helm for the new record. Bassist Max Lavelle provided lots of headbanging, windmills, and deep grooving bass tones that really mesh beautifully with the band’s sound. The band then went into their third song, “Nightbringers,” and I really noticed just how on-point drummer Alan Cassidy was during this song and throughout the whole set. The Black Dahlia Murder songs are incredibly technical, fast, and complex, and Cassidy did not miss a single beat. Guitarist and founding member Brian Eschbach absolutely shreds those rhythm guitar parts with ease. As I’ve stated, the band’s songs are challenging. But someone like Eschbach has been performing them with ease for over two decades at this point, and you can tell he is genuinely enjoying himself on stage with him smiling and exuding lots of positive energy. The band went on to play a career-spanning set, with songs from seven of their nine records. I always get excited when they play “What A Horrible Night To Have A Curse” from their 2007 album “Nocturnal,” as it reminds me of when I first discovered the band myself when I found that song on Rock Band. Fun fact, that song is still the most challenging song on Rock Band for drums. The Black Dahlia Murder once again blew me away, with their colorful green and red lighting to their technical musicianship that got the rest of the crowd and me going wild. They are always on point and are a band that must be witnessed to fully appreciate how great of a band they truly are.

SETLIST

  1. I Will Return
  2. Verminous
  3. Nightbringers
  4. Unhallowed
  5. Funeral Thirst
  6. Sunless Empire
  7. Nocturnal
  8. Statutory Ape
  9. Removal of the Oaken Stake
  10. Contagion
  11. Everything Went Black
  12. On Stirring Seas of Salted Blood
  13. Child of Night
  14. Kings of the Nightworld
  15. What A Horrible Night To Have A Curse
  16. Warborn
  17. As Good As Dead
  18. Deathmask Divine
  19. Miasma

This tour was beyond incredible. After a year and a half away from shows, to have this monster of a tour with these fantastic bands be one of my first shows back; was beyond incredible. Thank you to all of the amazing bands, crew, and venue staff for making sure this show and tour ran so smoothly. This will probably go down as one of the best tours of 2021.

The Black Dahlia Murder | After The Burial | Carnifex | Rivers of Nihil | Undeath

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

Keep up with us on social media! Facebook | Instagram | Twitter | YouTube

8/16/21 | Beartooth | The Below Tour | Photos + Review

Beartooth Dominates Anaheim With A Sold Out Show on The Below Tour

Venue: House of Blues Anaheim in Anaheim, CA on 8/16/21

As music fans, we all have bands that we want to see. But then something seems to always come up. Whether it be scheduling issues or another show overlapping, that’s always been my issue when it’s come to seeing or photographing Beartooth. I’ve been listening to their music since their debut in 2013, but this show was my first time actually seeing or photographing them. To say it was amazing would be an understatement, and I was so glad to finally see and photograph Wage War and Dragged Under as well. California hasn’t been getting as many big tours since we reopened live venues post-pandemic. So to have a show of this caliber come through was absolutely amazing.

First up on tour was Dragged Under from Seattle, Washington. I’d best describe Dragged Under’s sound as being that perfect blend of metalcore and hardcore punk. Their sound is right up the same vein as bands like Stick To Your Guns, Beartooth, and Stray From The Path, which are all among some of my favorite bands of all time. The band started off their set with the songs “Instability” and “The Real You”, which really showcased vocalist Anthony Cappocchi’s vocal prowess and control over the stage and crowd. Bassist Hans Hessburg was an animal on stage, headbanging and jumping around the stage like crazy. The band then went on to play their newest single, “Brainwash Broadcast”, which has received critical acclaim and has garnered a lot of views, streams, and radio play on SiriusXM Octane. Ryan “Fluff” Bruce shines on this song with his’ leads and hooks, which translate well live as well. Sean Rosario on rhythm guitar adds that dynamic sound that pushes the band over the edge. Kalan Anderson is the final piece to the puzzle, slamming the hell out of those drums and keeps the beat on time. The band played 7 songs, 6 of which came from their debut album “The World Is In Your Way”. I was thoroughly impressed with their set overall, and I’m glad they could play a good number of songs as the opener. I cannot wait to see these guys shine on a stage again soon!

SETLIST

  1. Instability
  2. The Real You
  3. Brainwash Broadcast
  4. Chelsea
  5. The Hardest Drug
  6. Just Like Me
  7. Hypocondria

Up next was Wage War from Ocala, Florida. Wage War has been a band that has always been on my bucket list and has always been on my radar, but I never got the chance to see. For my first time seeing them, I was blown away. The first thing you will notice about Wage War is how much of a presence lead vocalist Briton Bond has on stage. He absolutely commands that stage and screams the hell out of those words. The band played a great mix of songs, 3 of which came from their 2019 album “Pressure”, 3 from their 2017 album “Deadweight”, 2 from their 2015 album “Blueprints”, their newest single “High Horse”, and an unreleased track “Teeth”, presumably coming from their upcoming fourth album. One of my favorite things about Wage War’s sound is the clean vocals provided by Cody Quistad, who also plays rhythm guitar in the band. Those melodic choruses on songs like “Who I Am”, “Low”, and “Alive” are what really hooked me on Wage War, and I was so happy to hear these songs live. Lead guitarist Seth Blake really adds some unique hooks to the band’s sound. I consistently find myself humming some of those down-tuned guitar hooks from their songs in my head, and they sounded even better live! Adding to those lower tones, Chris Gaylord hits deep with those groovy bass tones that keep those heads banging. Finalizing their lineup is Stephen Kluesener, who adds some dynamic beats and rhythm that really grounds the band. I’m so stoked I was finally able to see Wage War, and I cannot wait to see and photograph them again soon!

SETLIST

  1. Stitch
  2. Who I Am
  3. Prison
  4. High Horse
  5. Alive
  6. The River
  7. Don’t Let Me Fade Away
  8. Teeth
  9. Gravity
  10. Low