It was only about six months ago when I last caught the Black Veil Brides in concert, and I did have a good time so was not all that against catching them in action once again. That last go round was with Motionless In White and a part of the “Entertainment Or Death” tour but tonight would be an entirely different animal and present The Brides with four other bands who were all embarking on the AP Tour which was sponsored by the Alternative Press publication. The scene for the show would once again be at the Gramercy Theatre which seems to be the place that is picking up a lot of these mid-level shows. Having attended a number of gigs that were ill attended over the past year at this same space, I was happy to find out that this AP Tour was sold out for weeks in advance. The five bands performing for this tour were Black Veil Brides, D.R.U.G.S., Versa Emerge, Conditions, and I See Stars and the gig would start very early at about 5:30pm. My own schedule kept me from being there from the beginning so I would miss the first three groups and only catch from D.R.U.G.S. on. Here is how the part of the night that I caught went down.
D.R.U.G.S.: The bands full name is Destroy Rebuild Until God Shows and they are considered to be a supergroup for the Post-Hardcore/Metalcore scene. I must admit that I am dog tired of this term being used for bands nowadays but I guess that every genre qualification needs a supergroup of their own to be proud of. This particular one is made up of members from the bands Chiodos, Matchbook Romance, Story Of The Year, From First To Last and Underminded. I had to admit that I was only marginally familiar with two of these bands but did know that those particular ones were rather popular. I’m speaking of Chiodos and Story Of The Year along with From First To Last but none of these groups had ever been enjoyed in concert, so their working together would be interesting to observe. The band released a self-titled album back in early 2011 and they’ve become a rising star for this scene which was easily determined by the crowd reaction from singer Craig Owens hit the stage with his fellow band members. They began to play with a lot of energy and the bodies were flying with abandon from the moment that it began. They started with “The Only Thing You Talk About” and I got a kick out of songs like “Stop Reading, Start Doing Pushups” for its wry message. At one point singer Owens jumped into the space used by security and media personnel to climb atop the barricade that keeps the audience at bay. He somehow balanced himself on the thin metal gate and with the help of his stage crew managed to remain there for a good portion of the song. It was dramatic but at the same time dangerous as there were too many people already in this limited space. I will speak to that a little later. The third song was “My Swagger Has A First Name” and he called upon the assistance of Devin Oliver, the lead singer for I See Stars who helped with a verse. They would only perform eight songs for this gig and close out with “If You Think This Song Is About You, It Probably Is” which I rather liked. After show research found me discovering that all eight tunes came from the bands debut and that makes sense. Sometimes groups like this do songs from their former bands but that would not be the case tonight. I enjoyed their set but did not like the instructions from the singer that said if the people in front of you are not moving to knock them down or out of the way – it was along those lines. That premise goes against the original NYHC aesthetic of “if someone falls down you pick them up” which I feel is a smarter manner of thinking. No one needs to get hurt during a show that’s for damned sure. Now it was time for the Black Veil Brides.
Black Veil Brides: Since the bands last go round I have had a little bit more exposure to their album “We Stitch These Wounds” and it was a pretty solid one if I had to gauge an immediate opinion about it. There are heavy moments but there are also breaks in that to showcase a very melodic sense and then there is the bands shocking image factor. For those just coming in, the band while originally formed in Cincinnati, OH, now resides in Hollywood, CA and what better a place for this kind of band. Educating themselves in the teachings of KISS and Motley Crue the band’s image is distinct and memorable and their live gigs on the exciting side since there is a lot of movement and interaction with the crowd. That’s never a bad thing in my book, so I was looking forward to seeing them perform once again. The show would find the band back in command with the full lineup as the last time absent bassist Purdy had fully recovered and was ready to rock. The band started off with “All Your Hate” and in glancing at the proposed set list I realized that a lot of it was the same as the last time around but that is okay as they are still supporting the first full release. The band is now on Lava Records and set to release some new stuff, but we will all have to wait until that comes out to enjoy it in the live sense.
As a singer, Andy Six seems to feed off the energy of the crowd and they are sending a lot of that in his direction. There was one point very early on in the set where his outstretched arm was grabbed by several fans who sought to pull him into their numbers. It took some doing but he managed to free himself and exclaim into the microphone that “you New York fans are crazy” with a sinister smile. The band was all over the stage and keeping your eyes and attention going in numerous directions all at once. While the band might be listed as more of a Metalcore act, I was finding a lot of elements of your traditional Shock Rock/Old School Metal vibe in the show that they were doing. Essentially they were keeping all of us on our toes during the energetic set. Having a better appreciation of the album with this gig I was having a little trouble finding my absolute favorite tune from them but will lean on the title track, “Knives And Pens” and of course “Perfect Weapon”. As they played through this unfortunately brief set I could notice an extra level of heaviness being introduced for their material. That was important for me to observe as it made the band be something totally different live as opposed to a note for note and time similarity to what we get on record. Six introduced C.C. or Christian Coma as the newest member of the band and he would soon treat us to a tasty drum solo that instantly called to my mind the memory of the legendary Eric Carr. While different in structure it was delivered with a powerful vibe that made me smile and think of the many years departed musician. KISS is clearly an important influence to the band and that’s nice to see from my fan perspective as I’ve appreciated their work for decades. Before the band delivered their final track of “Perfect Weapon”, they gave a shout out to their fans who they refer to as the Outcasts and that this is who they do this for. They also pointed out that industry executive Jason Flom was in the crowd and was standing up for the band and how they very much appreciated his interest. The younger fans might not know this but Flom was instrumental in the careers of bands like Twisted Sister, Skid Row, Stone Temple Pilots and the Trans-Siberian Orchestra. The Black Veil Brides kept their material to the heavy and driving numbers this evening and dispensed with any of the softer material that can be found on their debut but I was okay with that. As I said in my last concert overview about the band, I do very much enjoy their image sense because it separates the band from the standard pack and lets the audience escape the routine and see something much larger than life. That is the true spirit of Rock and Roll. One can only hope that with larger shows that their gigs become even larger in terms of spectacle and presentation. I have a feeling this group has a lot up their sleeves for their fans.
The audience for the most part was one of the youngest that I have ever seen and perhaps this was another reason that it started out so early. I remembered walking in and speaking with two girls who were only there to see Versa Emerge and since their set was done, they were as well. I admit that I never understand people leaving before other bands perform at these ticket prices. I had a great time with the bands that I saw but did have one major bit of complaint about the gig. Apparently the tour promoters had been holding a contest for these shows which lets the winners be in the photo pit space of the venues for the same three or four songs that are normally allotted to the working professionals and other members of the media. While its cool for the fans to be able to do this; they definitely need to be separate from the working people because its sometimes dangerous to be in there. There were also far too many for my own liking and since this is not something that fans are accustomed to, they lock into place and don’t budge. I realize that this makes me sound like a sourpuss but I am not fully against such a thing being given as a premium in terms of a contest, I just hope that it gets thought out a lot better before this becomes a standard. Four or five fans a show might work for spaces like this one, but thirty is way out of control and compromises what the managers and publicists are trying to have the professionals do for them and their bands.
At the end of the day I would see both of these bands again and I left with some curiosity about the bands that I missed. Perhaps I shall catch them when I see their names on the marquee for future shows. This was a great way for me to prepare for a very rocking weekend as tomorrow afternoon would be a set of Lez Zeppelin for Record Store Day which would be followed by Overkill and Accept later that night.
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