Gallery: Real Friends Headliner (11/24/14)

Real Friends brought its US headliner to GameChanger World on Monday, November 24. The lineup featured a nice variety of artists including Have Mercy, who opened up the show. Fresh off its latest release on Hopeless Records, A Place of Our Own, Have Mercy warmed up the crowd with the mellowest sounds of the night. Mellow is not bad as these guy put a heart wrenching amount of emotion into their performance. The first crowd surfers of the night started flying over the barrier in dramatic fashion during the last song, "Let's Talk About Your Hair." One crowd surfer knocked over some mic stands as he yelled the lyrics back at vocalist Brian Swindle. Have Mercy lived up to the hype that's slowly building for them and convinced me that this band may be one that headlines venues such as this in the not so distant future.

Hardcore band Cruel Hand was next on the bill. The last time these guys were booked to this particular venue was on a tour with the metal band Unearth, which shows how diverse they are willing to go with the bands they share the stage with. Much of the crowd was surprised by Cruel Hand's sound while the pit exploded with dancers who came specifically for this set. Hardcore and pop punk have been siblings of sorts and it's nice to see more tour packages merging the two genres together, attempting to expand people's music taste.

Neck Deep took the stage next and definitely brought the most energy of the night. Aside from having an upbeat and aggressive sound, the band's stage presence is fast and energetic, apart from the soft performance of "A Part of Me" in which fans lit up the venue with glimmering cell phone lights. Neck Deep also moved very smoothly through the set. Even though the band played the second most songs all night, it felt like the set was done before I knew it. Time flies when you're having fun, and Neck Deep is one of the most fun live bands I've ever seen, so it makes sense.

Real Friends closed out the night with an hour-long set. I've seen these guys rise from playing New Jersey at a bar, to a bigger bar, to a close to one thousand cap venue with a barrier in not even two years. This show was definitely the tightest I had ever seen the band play and it also drew the most crowd response, as kids were flying over the barrier all set long. Real Friends also played a handful of the normally full band songs, soft and toned down which really brought out the emotions within the band and crowd in the best way. Real Friends is one of the hottest pop punk bands right now, and this show did nothing but confirm that to me.

Check out some photos from the concert below.

Have Mercy

Cruel Hand

Neck Deep

Real Friends

Links: Have Mercy - Cruel Hand - Neck Deep - Real Friends - Dieter Unrath Photography
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Code Orange - I Am King (2014)

Code Orange's I Am King is strange, devastatingly heavy and cohesive all at once. Being the band's sophomore album release, Code Orange has certainly stepped up its game in every way possible. You can think of the previous album (Love is Love//Return to Dust) as an energetic, pissed-off kid. However, I Am King is that same kid, now a few years older with a full suit of body armor and weaponry. Taking influences from bands such as Turmoil, Disembodied, Earth Crisis and Vision of Disorder, I Am King is truly a powerhouse to be reckoned with. Clocking in at about 32 minutes, the half hour of music is a total onslaught leaving very little room for recovery.

The title track, “I Am King,” will give you a sense of uneasiness – only to be completely decimated by the ending of the song. “Slowburn” is another song that creates total destruction. “Dreams in Inertia” is Code Orange dragging you into a haunting hypnosis, but you will soon be woken up by the full blown assault that is “Unclean Spirit.” The ending of this song is my favourite part of the entire album. Listen and find out why.

“Alone in a Room” and “My World” are two of the best songs, in which I think the members of Code Orange showcase the best of everything they have to offer. “Starve” is the only song where you are able to catch your breath, for, when it ends, “Your Body Is Ready...” is a full-on battery. “Thinners of the Herd” and “Bind You” are also two solid songs, but “Mercy” is where your life ends. It's an amazing song, and the ending is unspeakably devastating and obliterating.

Love it or hate it, this is Code Orange. “Out with the old. In with the new. No Mercy.” Taking elements from all across the spectrum of heavy music, I Am King is THE hardcore record of the year. Unafraid of criticism and naysayers, Code Orange has shaped themselves into a band that will not go unnoticed. The shattering guitar riffs, the unforgiving drumming, Goldman’s crazy bass riffs and the outstanding vocals of Jami, Reba and Eric create an album that is truly all that Code Orange wanted it to be.

Links: Facebook
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Exalt - Pale Light (2014)

Exalt, hailing from Ontario, is a band that will leave you with a sense of dark emptiness and blind aggression when listening to its music – especially with its second LP, Pale Light , as it's a force to be reckoned with.

“Death Is A Road” begins the album, and we soon hear a punishing riff, but that is only the beginning. Songs such as “Forsaken” and “Greying” are fast and you leave in the dust by the time the breakdown kicks in. “Deafen” is foreboding and a total ass beater all at the same time.

What I really enjoy about this album, though, is the differences in the songs. While many of the songs are a blistering whirlwind, a few stand out. The title track, “Pale Light,” has an eerie introduction, but when the song comes full circle, it sounds like something that would be in a medieval war film right before a grand battle. “Palmcarver” is a full-on noise track, and the vocals create an even more unsettling feeling. The lyrics “End all earth / Clean all skin / Fear all life” are drilled into your skull. “Feed” is the best of the best on this album, as Exalt truly shows all that it has. The intro riff makes me headbang vehemently, while the second half of the song is dark and mysterious, and it will leave you lost in a haze.

“Flesh to Ash” reveals the chaotic aspect that was more present on the first LP, but here we have it done better than ever before. “Fear Is the Hand” closes the album, leaving you with a sense of uneasiness and a sudden need to regain your balance after finally ending the shadowy barrage of anger that is Pale Light. Simply put, if you like unrelenting metallic hardcore with an evil and sharp tinge, this album is a necessity for your ears.

Links: Facebook
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Gallery: The Wonder Years' Fall Headliner (10/31/14)

The Wonder Years finished off its fall headliner in Bethlehem, PA this past Halloween night. About half of the 2,000 people in attendance were in costume (many of those being bananas) for the costume contest judged by The Wonder Years' merch guy. Hey Arnold took home the top prize, and Ron Burgundy and Jesus were runner ups. Gnarwolves, a punk trio all the way from the UK, kicked off the night. The crowd really got going as Modern Baseball took the stage as bed sheet ghosts. The very close to hometown crowd was the loudest of the night up to that point as the band rolled through 10 songs. The Story So Far came out as true rockers (except guitarist Will Levy who opted for the skeleton look) and ended the set with a massive instrument swap with other bands that included a saxophone solo. The Wonder Years finished off the tour dressed as breakfast while fans (including one dressed as Hank the Pigeon) screamed and crowd surfed for the duration of the long set. Check out some photos from the fun night below.


Modern Baseball

The Story So Far

The Wonder Years

Links: Gnarwolves - Modern Baseball - The Story So Far - The Wonder Years - Dieter Unrath Photography
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