Date: April 22nd, 2015
Tour: The Confessions Tour
Venue: Aftershock (Merriam, KS)
Line-Up: Alesana, Capture the Crown, Conquer Divide, The Browning, The Funeral Portrait, Young Medicine (local support), & Shoot For Wednesday (local support)
As I finished up my interview with Shawn & Dennis of Alesana, so too were Shoot For Wednesday in their set so, sadly, I missed them. My night began with watching electronica/metalcore locals Young Medicine. Their EDM-fueled set got the crowd moving and was a lot of fun to watch. While they are rough around the edges and still have a good bit of improvement, they set off a great night for me and there were a lot of fans, locally, that were there specifically for them.
Next, the big tour line-up began with the arrival of Revival Recordings signing, The Funeral Portrait (Atlanta, GA). I had heard a lot about this band’s live performance, specifically vocalist Lee Jennings, and was incredibly thrilled to finally witness it first hand. This theater rock band erupted into the wildly popular “Casanova (C’est La Vie)” and I immediately began to see just why they are classified as “theater rock”. A band’s musical/vocal performance is just as important as their stage presence and what they do with it. It was clear from the start that this quartet was aware of this and Lee Jennings used his body language to convey the emotions in the music. There were plenty of crowd participation moments as Jennings held out the mic to sing the many gang vocal parts that were captured in their EP For The Dearly Departed. They got the crowd moving but it wasn’t until Shawn Milke joined them on stage for his part in “Wax Romantic” that they really came alive. During this time, Milke and Jennings faced one another, put their foreheads together and sang at each other… ending with Jennings on his knees in a begging pose before Milke took his spot alongside the stage, where you could see him multiple times throughout the night watching these incredible individuals. As the energy filled the room, you could tell.. it was going to be an amazing night. This set was easily one of my favorite of the night.
Up next was all-female, Artery Recordings signing, Conquer Divide (US/UK). Sadly, they only had 3 songs in their set but they definitely made them count. As I had been told by a few people who had attended the tour previously that they weren’t as energetic as you’d hope, this was certainly not the case for the KS date of the show. They started off dynamite and quickly became nuclear as they powered through their 3-song set, including their debut single “Eyes Wide Shut” and newest single, “At War”. I was highly impressed by the level of musicianship that these girls possessed and was very disappointed that they didn’t get a longer set. Newest addition Janel (screams) quickly showed why she was added to the group as she came alive with all the ferocity of the best in their genre.
We were getting closer to the main event as Century Media signing, The Browning (Kansas City, MO) took the stage. Being that they’re fairly local to the area, a lot of fans were there specifically to watch their set and they got a TON of crowd participation. The set began with a club beat, signaling vocalist Jonny McBee to tell the crowd to dance, which they did. Truthfully, I’m not 100% familiar with the majority of this band’s material but I have listened to them and I could tell they would be a lot of fun live. Filled with guitar-spinning antics, ferocious is the only way to describe their performance… as they plowed through a set that included “Industry”, “Save The World”, and “Gravedigger”. I am proud to say that I thoroughly enjoyed, and participated, during this band’s performance… headbanging, dancing… just generally getting weird, as their crowd is used to doing. Lots of raw emotion and energy during the entire set, unrelenting, heavy, fun and destructive is the only way to describe the performance I watched this night. The highlight of their performance was the wall of death which got, virtually, the entire crowd moving! The crowd fell silent and we got ready for the final 2 bands… up next, Capture the Crown (Sydney, AUS).
Admittedly, I wasn’t too impressed with CTC’s performance at the beginning. Vocalist Jeffrey Wellfare was having issues hitting notes, singing his clean vocals and his screams were a bit monotone. However, there was a ton of energy and raw emotion conveyed from the entire band. As I later found out, all of the band was fairly sick and.. I have to admit, for being sick… they put on a great performance. Wellfare decided to hang upside down from the rafters during some parts of the performance… which really got the crowd excited. The highlight of their performance was watching Wellfare discover that, if he used his hands as a conducting rod… the crowd would either get louder or quieter, depending on the motions he made. He had a lot of fun with this. For the final song, “You Call That A Knife, This is a Knife”.. the single that began this band’s career… Wellfare decided to take his performance into the pit. The circle pit raged on as Wellfare stood in the middle, erupting into full-force during the final breakdown of the set.
Finally, our headliners Alesana (Raleigh, NC) took the stage. The crowd went insane as the beginning of “Fatima Rusalka” played through the speakers. Now, I hadn’t seen ANY of these bands live but I somehow knew that they would use the energy in the room to their advantage. Sadly, it seemed the crowd had gotten smaller after The Browning left the stage.. but the lack of individuals in the room did not make a difference to the incredible performance that these 6 individuals brought forth to their fans. Dennis Lee hung from the rafters, walked along the crowd and gave plenty of hugs as fans crowd-surfed their way onto the stage, an action the venue soon put a stop to. The set couldn’t have been more perfectly orchestrated… consisting of songs solely from the newly-concluded Annabel Trilogy. I’ve heard the terms “Dennis becomes someone else when he’s on stage” and, being that I talked to him both before and after his performance, I can definitely attest to this. As if he were a man possessed, he completely let himself glide along the angry nature of his vocal parts… and it greatly worked to his advantage. The last song in their set, “Beyond the Sacred Glass” ended and the band left the stage… almost IMMEDIATELY, the crowd began chanting “ONE MORE SONG!”… they were not going to be happy until they got an encore. As if they knew this, Dennis came back onto the stage and began teasing the crowd saying “I heard you say one more song… you only said it about a hundred f**kin’ times!”… then, the unthinkable happened… he had the crowd vote on 2 songs to play for the encore… songs no one expected to hear on this tour: “Ambrosia” and “Apology”. Despite the vote, Alesana decided to take the stage for BOTH songs to which the crowd absolutely went NUTS. I have to admit, this was one of the best portions of the night… I had heard the encore on this tour was “Nevermore” which would have excited me, as well, but to hear such iconic songs in their catalog… that was something that you would have had to have seen to believe. This was easily one of the best, if not, the best night of my life and one of the best performances of the night.
I’d like to add that, after their respective sets, every band stayed around to meet fans, sell merch, take pictures and sign autographs. Alesana, the headlining band, was still talking with fans after I got my copy of “Confessions” signed, got a hug from Shawn and a journalist from the KC area (though she neglected to tell me her name) took several pics of Shawn and I together. I left the venue with a feeling of pure exhaustion, joy and exhilaration… the Confessions tour is a night of performances you won’t soon forget! Be sure to catch them on the remaining dates and pick up Alesana’s new album, Confessions out on Revival Recordings now!