Three heavy metal bands arrived in San Diego on a Taco Tuesday to tear it up in the mosh pit. Bleed From Within and The Devil Wears Prada are supporting August Burns Red as they engage in their 20th Anniversary Tour, and they invaded the Southland for a night of metal fans won’t soon forget.
The nearly sold-out show at Soma show began with Bleed From Within. The music gradually faded up as vocalist/guitarist Steven Jones beautifully sang the intro of “I Am Domination” before the audience was brutally blasted by the breakdown from Scott Kennedy’s ripping growls. The mates from Glasgow went right into “Stand Down,” another banger from their most recent album, “Shrine.”
Halfway through, Bleed From Within addressed the crowd, “San Diego, we have been a band for 17 years, and this is our first ever USA tour.” Shreddist Craig “Goonz” Gowans’ long red hair was flowing with every headbang, Davie Provan was slapping his five-string bass, and drummer Ali Richardson couldn’t keep the smile off his face.
Despite the short 30-minute performance, the Scottish metal group had kicked our asses and taken some names. They ended the night with “Levitate” and “The End of All We Know,” and Kennedy jumping into a sea of people for some crowd participation that set the tone for the rest of the evening.
Next up was Ohio’s favorite metalcore band, The Devil Wears Prada. The lights went out, and a female computer voice announced, “Ladies and gentlemen, welcome to The Devil Wears Prada. Please be advised, this is an interactive experience. We ask that you participate safely, and please look out for those around you. To ensure for maximum enjoyment, we now ask that you begin to open up the pit.”
The band dramatically took the stage and the crowd cheered as the AI voice continued, “The performance will commence once a circle pit is detected. Now is the time to move… scanning… scanning. Loading first song, ‘Watchtower,’ I choose the distance.” Wow! What an introduction as Soma went wild with everyone dancing without stopping into the second song of the night, “Danger: Wildman.”
Rhythm guitarist and founding member Jeremy DePoyster was sporting his Monte Carlo Grand Prix coat and a trucker hat, Kyle Sipress was cutting aggressively on his guitar, and Jonathan Gering looked like he was having the time of his life banging away on the keys. Lead screamer and front-man Mike Hranica said, “Oh shit! You came to party! Me too!” The Devil Wears Prada played an old hit, “Dez Moines,” that really got the kids grooving.
During the last half of The Devil Wears Prada’s 45-minute set, they tapped into our emotional support needs and slowed things down. The mob of spectators was clapping along to the beginning of “Chemicals,” then got out their phone flashlights for “Broken.” Hranica told the crowd, “This song goes out to anyone having a shitty time lately.” Ending on a high note, they closed with “Sacrifice.”
Now it was time for the main event. With stage lights flickering like a rave, the super group led off with “Everybody’s Free” by Rozalla for their walk in music, then opened with “Composure.” Lead vocalist Jake Luhrs points to the crowd, “San Diego, I want to see the biggest circle pit,” and the entire Soma floor was moving! The band went all out and it showed: five horizontal LED screens, insane lighting with movers that project like lasers through the fog and smoke machines, and an ABR flame logo that lit up behind Matt Greiner’s drum kit.
Keeping the intensity level high, Brent Rambler thrashed away on his guitar to the crowd-pleasing song, “Your Little Suburbia is in Ruins.” Dustin Davidson’s bass started the slow build up to “Ghost,” and he smirked at Luhrs, as if he knew something we didn’t. Sure enough, he did; Luhrs asked the San Diego crowd for the biggest wall of death and a flood of bodies violently collided in response.
Guitarist John Benjamin, aka “JB” Brubaker, was keeping it causal, wearing his beach flip-flops. JB said, “It feels like this is the third time we’ve been in San Diego in 18 months.” (He was correct.) “Thanks for all your support San Diego.”
Luhrs, who has no hair on top of his head, made the joke, “If you’ve got long hair like me, let it down and head bang with me.” Not really known for any slow songs, during the instrumental interlude of “Spirit Break,” Luhrs spiritually raised his hands, reaching towards the heavens as the congregation claps along.
The band played a brand new song called “Backfire,” which was met with a ton of crowd surfing. What they called the heaviest song they ever wrote, “Bloodletter,” was followed by the biggest old school circle pit during “Paramount” and “Mariana’s Trench.”
The night was all over but the audience demanded more and chanted “One more song!” over and over again. August Burns Red’s encore started with a spectacular drum solo by Matt Greiner, as he sat high on his throne. Then our champions finished their hour and a half set with “The Eleventh Hour” and “White Washed.” With one last blast of smoke shooting into the sky, August Burns Red was off, into the night…
You too can witness this awesome tour and celebrate 20 years of August Burns Red as they travel across North America through May.