Three fire-heavy metal bands ripped up The Ritz as August Burns Red brought their 20th anniversary tour to town with special guests Bleed from Within and The Devil Wears Prada.
Bleed from Within was the first opener of the night and stated this was only their second time playing in the United States! The band released their sixth studio album, “Shrine,” last year and despite being new to touring the US, they are ruling over the metalcore genre.
A low demonic sound erupted from the speakers before the band took their marks on the stage and opened with “I am Damnation.” This Scottish band, on the path to world domination, consists of Scott Kennedy (vocals), Steven Jones (clean vocals), Craig Gowans (guitar), Ali Richardson (drums), and Davie Provan (bass). Their set was the shortest of the three, but their choice in songs, like “Stand Down” and “Pathfinder,” were the perfect start to the stress- reducing, emotional release of a night that was to happen. The mosh pit went full rage and Kennedy did a little crowd surfing during their last song, “The End of All We Know.” Bleed from Within did a phenomenal job getting the crowd energized and people’s blood stirring.
The room darkened again and a female AI voice took over the speaker system. She stated this was an interactive experience and commanded the crowd to participate safely, look out for those around them, and in order to achieve maximum enjoyment, open up the pit! She went on to state that the performance would not commence until the pit was detected.
The members of The Devil Wears Prada – Mike Hranica (vocals), Kyle Sipress (guitar), Jeremy DePoyster (guitar), Giuseppe Capolupo (drums), Jonathan Gering (keys), and Mason Nagy (bass) – finally appeared onstage. DePoyster motioned with his hands to get the circle pit started and the band literally jumped into their first hit of the night, “Watchtower.” Everyone followed suit by jumping up and down and they started moshing again. Crowd surfers were rampant during this portion of the night and everyone wanted their turn. “Danger: Wildman” and “Born to Lose” were next.
Hranica spoke for a second and said they were going to keep things moving along before August Burns Red takes the stage. He introduced the next song, one of their newest ones, “Salt,” which was a huge hit. “Dez Moines” was played next, which I was happy to hear because it gave me a little reminder of my recent Iowa roots. This song also seemed to be a fan favorite for many due to the high energy it invokes. At the start of “Chemical,” Hranica told everyone to “Get those fucking hands in the air!” and then repeatedly said “Beautiful.”
This hardcore metal band decided it was time to take it down a notch and give the crowd a break from the moshing and thrashing by playing a couple songs like “Broken” and “Cancer.” By this time, the temperature in the room was spiked, the crowd was a sea of sweat, ice water was being thrown, and droplets of sweat were being flung from the long hair of many headbangers.
I will say I am a virgin when it comes to mosh pits and heavy metal concerts and didn’t fully understand the larger meaning of moshing. I get it now. There’s nothing like being in the middle of chaos that makes you feel so alive and free. Moshing is a cultural right to freely engage in a certain type of camaraderie without willful intent to harm others or be violent. It’s very much a friendly warzone.
I know I stood out like a sore thumb to many, but what stood out to me was how compassionate these emotional musically charged personalities were, plus how they all unilaterally embraced pit etiquette. One second people were throwing themselves on one another and charging at each other and the next they were giving each other a bro hug. Anyone who fell down was instantly brought back up to their feet by a nearby thrasher. If someone lost their glasses, space was given to retrieve them before they broke. Lost hats, no problem. Lose both your shoes? Sorry dude, but you are completely out of luck and kudos to you for your sacrifice. Speaking of “Sacrifice,” that was the last song of The Devil Wears Prada set and the much-needed jolt to set the stage back up for August Burns Red.
I didn’t think it could get much hotter in there, but August Burns Red really turned up the heat when they hit the stage. After 20 years, they are still on fire. Front-man Jake Luhrs motioned for the crowd to clap their hands and then started belting out the lyrics to “Composure.” The energy levels went through the roof and the crowd was in a frenzy. Luhrs has such an angry, dominating presence onstage with his clenched fists and structured movements, but at the same time, you can tell he’s enjoying himself and the smile on bassist Dustin Davidson’s face was proof the band lives up to their motto of playing angry music for happy people.
Fog shot up from the stage in front of Luhrs, Davidson, guitarists JB Brubaker and Brent Rambler, as red lights illuminated drummer Matt Greiner. They went into their next song, “Your Little Suburbia is in Ruins,” and then “Fault Line.” More fog erupted from the stage as the lights went into a strobe effect. They played “Ancestry,” “Empire,” and “Ghosts.”
I was still on the outer banks of the crowd and while the energy was spiked, it wasn’t anything like what I experienced closer to the mosh pit. The feeling of togetherness and shared experiences just wasn’t there the farther you ventured towards the exit doors. I was hooked after my first taste and shot back to the edges of the mosh pit where I watched them perform “Invisible Enemy,” “Spirit Breaker,” and “The Truth of a Liar.”
Luhrs demanded the pit get opened so the boys and girls could have some space while they played the happiest song they’ve ever written (by their own account) called “Bloodletter.” After “Marianas Trench,” Greiner put on an epic drum solo which closed out the set.
“One more song! One more song!” was chanted over and over. Luhrs thanked fans for a wonderful second leg of their tour, for the 20 years of support, and asked everyone to get their lighters, phones, and anything with light shining and proceeded to take a picture of the crowd with all hands raised before playing “The Eleventh Hour.” “White Washed” ended the night and sent all the adrenaline junkies home, although many just congregated in the parking lot, not ready to end their night.
You can catch this trifecta between now and May as they hold back-to-back concerts across the US and Canada. OCMN locals can catch them in Anaheim on March 1st at the House of Blues.