Friday night in Philly always brings out some of the best shows from the best bands. On this particular Friday night we got a triple bill of DEVOUR THE DAY, SICK PUPPIES, and SKILLET at Electric Factory. When the tour was announced I hit the floor because I am YUUUUGE fans of all three of these groups, so to have them under one roof for the same show and it not be a festival was a rock fan’s dream come true.
The place was packed, and if it wasn’t sold out I’d be surprised. I got to the venue where my frequent concert buddy Bobby had staked out a particularly good piece of real estate for optimal viewing for someone short like me. I settled in and waited for DEVOUR THE DAY.
Opening with “S.O.A.R.”, title track from their newest album the band got right to business. Singer/guitarist Blake Allison attacked this tune and the other six with authority, and the band fully matched his intensity. Bassist Joey Chicago, guitarist David Hoffman, and drummer Ronnie Farris were stride for stride with Blake as they went on the offensive with “Good Man” from debut Time & Pressure and continued with “Save Yourself”, one of my favorites off the new disc.
It should be noted that as this one started Allison let it be known that he was going to crowd surf, and crowd surf he did! The energy level of this band was insane and the crowd ate it like candy. Hoffman was particularly animated during this one, providing the necessary back-up screams to really punch it home.
It was back to the debut for “Blackout” and then my absolute favorite from S.O.A.R., “Something Real.” The chorus on this number never fails to get me goin’, and this night was no exception. Latest single “The Bottom” was next and I daresay it’s even better live. Closing their set with heavyfest “Respect” one thing was clear: DEVOUR THE DAY had set the intensity and energy level bar pretty high. This was my second time seeing them and they completely blew me away.
Next up? SICK PUPPIES. I unfortunately missed them at Rock Allegiance last year so I was excited to see them have a longer set this time around. Right away “War” from Tri-Polar set the tone, as the band was not about to drop the energy ball tonight.
Bassist Emma Anzai was once again everywhere at once, probably driving all the photographers nuts! “Riptide” served as a great live introduction to newest member singer/guitarist Bryan Scott. He totally nailed it and he makes a great addition to the group. He’s got great stage presence and is an engaging frontman.
And from new record Fury they launched into “Stick To Your Guns’ one of the more aggressive tracks. Clearly they were out to prove something, and drummer Mark Goodwin made sure to hit the skins that much harder, Scott sang louder, and Anzai damn near ripped the strings from her bass she was hitting with such force! Oh, and Blake from DEVOUR THE DAY joined the band to rip it up on vocals, too. You can tell these bands are having fun on this tour.
Before “Odd One” Emma made a poignant statement about what it was like to be bullied and made fun of for being different, and that’s part of what makes this song so special. You can feel the real emotion in it, and Scott’s delivery was spot-on. It will always hit me, and it did so once again.
The anti-bullying theme continued with another new song “Let Me Live.” I have to say I wasn’t totally sold on Fury when it was released, but hearing these tracks live definitely made me appreciate it more. “Maybe” followed, and this is another favorite of mine, especially when Emma echoes the lead vocal on the second verse live. And once again, she did not disappoint. It was back to 2007’s Dressed Up As Life for “All the Same” followed by two more new ones “Where Do I Begin” and “Black & Blue”.
The latter is definitely one of the best tracks on the new disc, and live it packs a wallop. To close their blistering set “You’re Going Down” is the tune that lit the match to burn the house down. Overall it was an amazing set from SICK PUPPIES, and this third time seeing them for sure won’t be my last!
(Stay tuned for Part II of this amazing night…SKILLET!!)
LIVE IMAGES: MIKE SIEVILA PHOTOGRAPHY
LIVE WORDS: THE MAESTRO