Who: Underoath, Thursday, A Skylit Drive, and Animals As Leaders
Where: House of Blues Cleveland
On February 10, 2011 the Underoath/Full Collapse tour came through Cleveland, Ohio to the House of Blues. The venue was either sold out or about as close as you can get. All four bands brought some good energy, despite playing vastly different styles of music. This also lead to the crowd being very diverse as well and made for an exciting evening.
Animals As Leaders were the first band to play. They are a 3-piece band that feature a drummer and two guitarists that each play 8-string guitars. They also had a video projector and two screens that featured a light show that went with the music. Their style was experimental/progressive metal. Their songs were all instrumentals and at times felt like jam sessions with the solos and the overall feel. Both guitarists would trade off doing the guitar parts while the other would play the rhythm that essentially replaced the bass.
All three musicians were really good at what they do and seem to feed of one another’s energy. While most eyes would typically go to the band’s founder, Tosin Abasi, it was the drummer who really stood out in my opinion. His work could sometimes get overshadowed by the constant guitar soloing, but some of his fills were just incredible. The drums sounded full and were micd well. Despite, the little video malfunction on the last song, Animals as Leaders put on a great live show that probably took a lot of people by surprise in a good way.
The next band to play was A Skylit Drive. They are a popular screamo/post-hardcore band that has been around for several years now and getting ready to release their third album. I am the first one to admit that I don’t particularly enjoy their music and seeing them live reaffirmed that opinion. However, they have quite a bit of fans that seemed to know every word to their songs, except for some of the new ones. And for that, credit needs to be given; especially with today’s average listener that are here today and gone tomorrow. The band came off thankful to be on such a tour, but at times seemed to come as if they were saying the same lines between songs to every city. Overall, ASLD did not change my opinion, but I think they brought a different demographic to the show that otherwise would not have been in attendance.
Thursday finally took the stage as the Intro from Full Collapse played. To a screaming and anxious crowd the intro led right into Understanding in a Car Crash. As frontman Geoff Rickly passionately sang the words, the crowd was moving and yelling back at him. Although it is a staple in their live set, it had a much different feel given the context and the reason for playing it. Car Crash leads into Concealer, which to my knowledge, has not been played live in a really long time. Autobiography of a Nation followed and is the second of the big three (Car Crash, Autobiography, and Cross Out the Eyes) on this record. The big three can still be heard live at most shows today, but songs like A Whole in the World, Paris in Flames, Standing on the Edge of Summer, among others is what this night was about. It was about the band giving back to fans that have helped put them in the position they are currently in. It is about the fans, new and old getting to experience something that was merely a pipe dream a few years ago.
The only way one could ask for more is that the band nails the performance and that is exactly what Thursday did. The drums were on point and the bass lines were groovy when they needed to be. The vocals of all members hit the highs and lows. The guitars were both atmospheric and chainsaw-like when the songs called for it. Simply put, the album goes to a whole other level in a live setting such as this.
Even though I was listening to this band in eighth grade when this record came out, I was not going to small clubs and seeing these songs live. By the time I was going to shows, a good portion of this record was cut from the live set. And for those unfamiliar, this record, Full Collapse lead to a ton of hype for Thursday that brought extremely unreasonable amounts of pressure that could never be lived up to. Labels were coining them the next Nirvana at times! For those that like to research, it is an interesting topic. This is going to be an overall memorable performance that will personally be a highlight in my concert-going experiences.
The second and overall headliner, Underoath was the fourth and final act of the evening. After just hearing a defining record played front to back, I actually was wondering if Underoath could engage me with their set. That question was quickly answered as the band came out with guns blazing. Singer Spencer Chamberlain’s vocals were aggressive and on point. Their set was a good mix of old and new material dating back since Spencer joined the band. However, only two songs were played from the fan favorite, They’re Only Chasing Safety. They also played a handful of new songs from the new record, Disambiguation.
For a lot of people that missed them the second half of last year, this tour is the first time hearing the band since drummer/clean vocalist Aaron Gillepsie left the band. Fans had questions about who would do the clean parts would and how good the new drummer would be. For the most part, Spencer took this as opportunity to show people he can take clean parts along with the aggressive parts. Guitarist Tim McTague also took some of the clean parts that one person cannot do on their own. As for the drumming, if people can listen objectively they should be able to notice how good Daniel Davison is. The guy has tons of energy behind the kit and just absolutely tears it up. Davison also brings a visual element to Underoath as he is an accomplished film artist. Along with the band’s performance, they had a video streaming throughout their set that added something different and aesthetically pleasing.
Overall, they played a great energetic set that included a good mix of songs. They closed with a fan favorite, Writing on the Walls to a crowd singing along and seemed to be a fitting song to close with due to the way it finishes. While Spencer has been in the band since 2003-2004, it has never felt like this was his band. As the last remaining original member, Aaron Gillespie was the face of the band for several years and rightfully so. However, since the release of Disambiguation and seeing them live, it is quite clear who the face of the band is and it’s Spencer Chamberlain.
The concert was an overall success. For the openers, they got to tour with two renowned bands in the scene that have great reputations and work ethics that rubs off on their fans. They also got to play to a different crowd than they are used to playing along with a larger crowd. For up and coming bands it is important to reach a large number of people, so taking tours opening slots on tours like this are vital. For Thursday, they got to step back and celebrate an important record while showing their fans appreciation at the same time. It was also a good tour to take leading up to the release of their new record. Finally, being good friends with Underoath it just made sense to have a no drama tour after the debacle that was the Taste of Chaos in 2009, which has changed the way the band has toured going forward. For Underoath, it made sense to have a diverse lineup to maintain their reach with a wide array of music fans. Underoath is as strong as they have ever been and look for them to carry this momentum into the season of festivals this summer and beyond.