While I am a photographer, I’m actually not used to viewing shows “through the lens”. While half the crowd now days is snapchatting the whole damn thing, I try my best to stay fully involved in the sets, take in all the performance, be… present; which is so easy to NOT be considering all the distractions and instant gratification we have at our disposal. Thankfully, using a real camera and trying to capture the emotional response of the artist on stage is a far more engaging experience than one would expect, and something I am very thankful for.
With this camera at my disposal, I can truly go back and look at what I hold captive; not some cellphone video I’ll forget about in two weeks, but a real almost tangible frozen moment that will (hopefully) be immortalized on the internet. It’s thrilling to be able to relive shows in such vivid detail, to look at what was in front of me right as I felt that familiar click of the shutter, and be transported back to that exact moment in time. I’ll be doing that a LOT due to the lineup I witnessed at Gas Monkey Bar N’Grill consisting of ARCHITECTS, STICK TO YOUR GUNS, and COUNTERPARTS.
A little disclaimer I like to do in any of my reviews: I am a super fanboy when it comes to COUNTERPARTS. They’re without a doubt, one of my all time favorite bands, and being able to be right up on the stage as they tore it apart was nothing short of sonic ecstasy. Not known for being overly preachy, or calm for that matter, they took to the late afternoon chill in the venue and promptly commenced to shred every ass in the immediate vicinity. Their signature blend of melodic up-tempo verse/chorus work, combined with relentless breakdowns and a lovely dash of technicality always yield incredible musical moments that captivate audiences, and inspire only the strongest of emotional responses.
To top it off, Brendan’s (vocals) on stage banter, which consists of rude quips such as: “Sing along motherfuckers. Or don’t. I don’t give a shit, I still get paid.”, are always hilarious and bring a unique sense of nonchalant apathy to their already overly thoughtful and heart string pulling lyricism/music. Do everything in your power to see them live. You owe it to yourself to watch their set unfold. It’s worth every penny. (Also, not sure if I can say this, but they’re selling a grey hoodie on tour right now that is undoubtedly the best hoodie I have ever purchased in my entire life. Seriously, it is so thick and fluffy, what the fuck??)
To be perfectly level again in terms of how I feel about a particular band, I’m not a huge fan of STICK TO YOUR GUNS. That being said, they have never put on anything less than a stellar show with 110% effort from all members every single time I’ve seen them. The work ethic present in the band, and the show they put on display, is something every musician should aspire to emulate. Beyond that, the fans go fucking NUTS for it, and I love seeing it. Bodies on top of bodies that were on top of other bodies, spin kicks, fists being thrown, yelling along, circle pit madness…What else could anyone ask for?
It was like a strange vehement religious ceremony for these kids, which, by all technical counts, would be a correct observation since they’re gathered in congregation with others to exude their beliefs. So, I guess STYG held the most hardcore church service of all time? Either way, it’s always fantastic to watch a hard working band do what they do, do it very goddamn well, and leave the crowd wanting more.
ARCHITECTS is a bit of a special case on this bill. With the recent and untimely loss of their brother Tom (guitar), I knew we were all in for an emotional ride. At the beginning of their set, they came out as a band of their stature would: With a blistering blend of insanely precise, heavy hitting, and *violent* metalcore. Nothing short of nearly perfect “atomic clock” level musicianship combined with the manic politically-motivated groove sound they’ve culminated over the years is one of the most palpable displays of power the music industry has to offer across all genres. It’s honestly so captivating that I found myself forgetting to breathe from time to time because I was so taken out of reality; suspended in a moment as the lights cascaded on and off against the thundering bass and kick leaving me lost for solid ground to stand on. It was surreal and honestly, my words simply don’t give what I saw the justice it deserves.
The night went on like that. Not a single stop in sight; pure punishment and euphoria. They “ended”, and the fans absolutely clamored for more, as if that wasn’t going to happen. They walked back out, and “the speech” happened. Sam (vocals) spoke up about their brother. He gave us a speech about how every song is dedicated to him, about how he would be amazed to see how far they’ve come in a place like America, he said he hoped they were making him proud…He made us all weep.
They lost their family, but we all lost a friend. Everyone knows once that one record touches your ears, and it worms its way into the back of your mind then settles into your heart strings, a band almost becomes a part of you. When you lose such a monumental songwriter, one responsible for years of intensity and powerful noise, it hurts. How the gentlemen in ARCHITECTS manage to bring that up every night and still get through the set is beyond me, but I am MORE than thankful that they do it.
Go see this tour. You will regret every day that you missed it.
LIVE IMAGES AND WORDS: ZALEN CIGAINERO