For Today has been one of my top bands that I hadn't had the pleasure of seeing yet. Their tours either missed Pittsburgh, or if they had been here, I didn't have the money for the show. It had also been a long time since I had seen Stick To Your Guns, for the same reason. I'm glad this tour was assembled, because although ASD and MMF may not be my cup of tea, I still found the show wonderful.
Opening band, A Breathless September, is a Pittsburgh local. They consider themselves Alt. Rock mixed with Screamo, which is an odd mix, but it wasn't bad. The vocalist was decent, the guitar work had a very pop punk feel to it, and overall it was a good set.
The next band are actually close friends of mine. Arcane Haven goes for a melodic metalcore sound, and is one of the more prominent acts in Pittsburgh, typically landing on big tickets like this all the time. Dan has a unique high scream that accents Brad's lead guitar and clean vocals, Steve adds well to the leads, as well as backup screams, and Arnie's drumming is always top notch. Without trying to sound biased, I'll say their set was actually awesome last night. The crowd participation was much better than their recent shows, and the band had plenty of energy to compliment their set.
Following the locals were the Ukrainian based Make Me Famous, whom I was seeing for the first time. I won't bash this band, because they actually weren't bad. They're just suffering the same sickness a lot of bands are nowadays; Lacking originality. They were heavy, certainly. And the cleans actually weren't bad. I'll even say that they had good stage presence. But dammit all, synth layered breakdown core is NOT welcomed anymore.
Mychildren Mybride followed next, and this was my first time seeing them as well. And just as I anticipated, their set was awesome. Matthew Hasting's signature vocals were perfectly heard, and the rest of the band had a clear sound. They opened with Morpheus and transitioned into On Wings Of Integrity Pt. II. Terra Firma, God Of Nothing, and Dreamcatchers followed, and up until this point, the crowd was all over the place. But since everyone knew what was coming next, a chill went through the air, and they crushed the place with On Wings Of Integrity. Awesome set, awesome band.
The moment I realized that Stick To Your Guns was playing next, my hair stood on end. I hadn't seen these guys since Thrash and Burn 2010, and in my mind, they stole the show. Even over co headliners Asking Alexandria and Born of Osiris. Now we come to present day. Their new album, Diamond, is released, and any fans of the album, as well as the band, knew exactly what was about to unfold. After sound check, the voice clip heard at the beginning of the aforementioned album is heard. The venue roars, the pit is opened, and the crowd watches closely as member by member emerges onto the stage. Last but not least is Jesse Barnett, and the chaos begins. After opening with Diamond, they follow with What Goes Around, a short, yet fantastic traditional hardcore track from their previous album, The Hope Division. Empty Heads came next, and being one of the heaviest songs on Diamond, the intensity was reaching dangerous levels. Following Empty Heads came one of their more prominent tracks, Amber. The emotion from this song can be FELT through each word that Jesse pushed out, whether it was screamed or sung.
After Amber, and a wonderful pummeling from Bringing You Down, We're What Separates The Heart From The Heartless, Some Kind Of Hope, and Enough Is Enough, we came to their final track, which brought back memories of TNB 2010. Any fan of STYG knows that they close with this track, because it seeps intensity and is true So-Cal hardcore in every sense. And just like TNB 2010, Jesse announced this last track, This Is More, and the venue lost control, rushing the stage at the song's defining moment. Forgive me for pushing this part of the set on, but I can't help but relay the blood rushing feeling of hearing every voice in that venue say "Rest assured...that with a heart that's pure...we'll be victorious, and not let our hate get the best of us." Jesse literally handed the mic over to a fan, and walked off stage, and watched as fans closed around the mic to yell along for the repeat of the line. And as though everyone thought they were a hardcore vocalist, you hear a deafening "MOVE", which caused, what seemed to be, the earth splitting open to reveal flailing fists and flying feet, EVERYWHERE. As the band closed the song out, Jesse returned to the stage to tell everyone to see him after the show, give him a hug, and talk to him, because he's literally one of the nicest guys on the planet. I actually got the pleasure of seeing him in the neighboring McDonald's, congratulated him on an amazing set, and he gave me a hug. He also asked if I had gotten their new album, and when I answered with "Yeah, I actually preordered it!", he jokingly tested me and asked what bundle I picked up. I told him the bundle with the red tank top, and as a "test" he asked what symbol was on the bottom left of the tank top. "A Diamond with an X through it :)" I answered. He smiled, gave me another hug, and thanked me for supporting him and his band. I want them to come back. As soon as possible. As if that wasn't obvious already. I know I failed to mention how well the band did as a whole, but I promise you. They're perfect.
I'd like to apologize to all A Skylit Drive fans who are reading this review, because I didn't watch their set. After that ridiculous set by STYG, I had to re-cooperate and went to McDonald's to eat and relax, where as I previously stated, met Jesse, as well as Matthew of MCMB. If you ever get a chance, talk to these dudes. They're extremely down to earth and welcome ALL conversation.
I returned to the venue just in time to see A Skylit Drive exit the stage, and find a place to watch for For Today's set. This was my first time seeing these guys, and I absolutely regret missing any chances I had at seeing them before. It had become apparent that any of the "heavier" fans had also rested during ASD's set, because they seemed ready to hit the pit as soon as Immanuel (The Challenger) rang throughout the venue. Mattie Montgomery's presence is undeniable, both physically and verbally. His vocals are as prominent live as they are recorded. And as Immanuel came to a close, so followed Saul of Tarsus (The Messenger). I'd like to take this time to commend Ryan Leitru, their lead guitarist and clean vocalist. He nails every single note on their songs, and it's obvious he's very talented. Saul of Tarsus showcased that very well as he seamlessly glided across his fret board. The band never seemed to stop moving, whether it was a crushing breakdown or during a verse, they always stayed active. Following Saul of Tarsus came The Advocate, their new track Fearless, and Isaiah (The Willing), which as a whole left the pit fatigued yet again. Thankfully, this is when Mattie halted the set to bring about a story of his "coming to faith".
Now, many readers probably have no interest in this. But as a Christian, I can honestly say that Mattie's speeches are eye opening and extremely passionate. His voice often cracked due to the emotion he spilled, and it really let me absorb what he was trying to say. In summary, he was raised Christian, despised it because it was practically forced on him, hated it even more because his mother beat him constantly outside of church, yet came to church and acted as though everything was "alright". He then said that he didn't have enough time to tell the whole story, but that he had explored all religions, tried any other possibilities, but after a "seeing the light" epiphany, he became a devout Christian, and committed his life to God, and thus For Today was born soon after.
After the heartfelt speech, For Today came out roaring again with White Flag, Arm The Masses, and Agape. Leaving the pit fatigued again, the band takes a minute break, and the chorus to Seraphim is heard. Thus came Seraphim, and the "closer", King. The band then walks off stage, and after a solid minute of chants for one more song, The Breaker's Origin rings through the speakers. Devastator follows, and ends the night with a profound bang.