Our good friends Famous Last Words released their 3rd studio album, The Incubus back in September and it is one of the best albums you’ll hear this year, hands down. In support of that album, they put together an amazing headlining tour package consisting of themselves, label-mates The Funeral Portrait and an amazing, up-and-coming band from WI by the name of Versus Me. I had the opportunity to attend the 2nd date of the tour and was absolutely mind-blown by what I saw.
Starting An Earthquake:
My first introduction to Starting An Earthquake, honestly, was when I found out they were going to be opening this show. However, when I decided to look them up on Facebook and check out their latest single, “Nothing For You Here,” I was instantly blown away. While I didn’t get to catch most of their set, I was able to catch about 2 and a half songs from these guys, including the aforementioned single, which closed out their set. Their energy was off the charts and vocalist Jaron Geil’s voice sounded just as if they were in the studio, a rare treat in a world where everything is over-processed. It was a great way to start off the night and they got the small-ish crowd that had arrived there by their set time off their feet.
The most surprising, odd-sounding performance of the night came from Aureate. Again, until this show, I, unfortunately, had not heard of them. While the band describes themselves as post-hardcore… I feel that’s a bit of a broad category for the style of music that they play. Easily the most unique sound of the night and it seemed a good portion of the crowd knew who they were, as I saw quite a few people singing along. Vocalist/founding member Jake Bolander’s screams blew me away and their use of EDM in their music, and in between songs, was absolutely genius… it reminded me of the way that The Browning gets people hyped at their shows and it was a really fun set to watch. Trust me when I say, these are 2 local bands I wouldn’t miss again, given the chance to see them.
Created out of a passion for wanting to do something different with his music, guitarist Patrick Thompson (Alesana) formed Versus Me. The resulting musical experience takes influence from, not only Alesana but the other members’ previous bands as well, but also has their own sound to them. You could tell that the crowd had been waiting for these guys, as they were one of the most new and intriguing bands on the line-up. They opened up with “High Roads & Stepping Stones” from their debut album, Changes and the crowd (myself included) went absolutely nuts. There was not a single bad thing to say about their performance, Pat and unclean vocalist James Milbrandt sounded flawless and watching them was an honor and a privilege. The guitar tones from Pat and rhythm guitarist, Clint Greendeer were amazing, not too loud or soft, and remained consistent to the quality you’d want at a show. I’ve been to far too many shows where the guitars drown out everything else and it gives you a less-than-stellar experience. It was also nice to be able to hear Lee Milbrandt’s bass, crisply and clearly throughout the performance. Last but certainly not least, The Funeral Portrait’s Stephen Danzey was behind the kit and absolutely killed it. If you ever get the chance to check these guys out at a show (and hopefully 2017 will hold a lot of those opportunities for them), do yourselves a favor and go check them out. They also hung out in the crowd, at the bar and at the merch table for the entire show and didn’t pack up their merch until Famous Last Words began loading out after their set.
High Roads & Stepping Stones
An American Tale
The Funeral Portrait:
The last time I saw The Funeral Portrait, it was with Alesana on the Confessions tour in 2014. Their theatrical performance, coupled with their absolute professionalism as musicians, drew me in and blew me away. To say that I was excited to see these guys, on the cusp of releasing their debut, full-length album, A Moment of Silence, would be a massive understatement. When they opened up with “The Water Obeyed the Gravity,” one of the two released songs from that album, I was amazed at how incredibly it translated live. Not only did they put an incredible amount of passion into their performances but they were able to maintain the level of emotion needed to convey the track successfully. They also played their one-off, punk-infused single “Meanwhile” and their latest single, “Like Father Like Son” and the energy behind both of those were off-the-charts! The unreleased tracks that they played included one of my favorite tracks from A Moment of Silence, “Double Helix” and “Shaking Hands,” both of which had a bit of a rough edge (as they hadn’t been played much live, yet) but were not bad, by any means. Fans of the band, who were familiar with them strictly from their debut EP For the Dearly Departed, were excited to hear that they closed out their set with their hit single, “Casanova (C’est La Vie)” which seemed to have a bigger sound to it than the last time I saw them perform it live. From start to finish, they had one of the best sets of the night and really set the bar for the final act of the night: Famous Last Words.
The Water Obeyed the Gravity
Like Father Like Son
Appeal to Reason
Casanova (C’est La Vie)
Famous Last Words:
The lights dimmed and it was time for the main event. The crowd went deadly silent, as the band finished setting up and their intro came in. For those who have watched my interview with the band (conducted pre-show), you’ll know that this consists of someone walking into a room, turning on a radio and switching through each of the band’s intros. Not knowing what to expect, the crowd went nuts when “Welcome to the Show” came over the PA but then they quickly realized what was happening when the radio dial changed and it cycled through “Letter to the Council” and “Trophy Wife.” “I must accept these consequences for my actions” is all it took for the crowd to explode with cheers and applause, as the band powered through “The Show Must Go On, Pt. 1”, easily one of their most recognizable and monumental songs to date. The majority of their set included tracks from The Incubus but there was a decent mixture of each album across the spread. If you’ve listened to The Incubus, you’ll know the incredibly daring and eye-opening story that it tells and why the level of emotion put into each performance of those songs had to be through the roof. Luckily for those who are attending any night of this tour, you’ll quickly find that they’ve got it down to a science! “Brothers In Arms” kicked in, as vocalist JT Tollas commanded the crowd to go insane.. and they delivered! The semi-dead floor surrounding me, quickly turned into a sea of moshers and it coerced the rest of the crowd to follow along, some jumping up and down, some headbanging and some getting down in the pit. Just as with their tour/label mates, their new material translated phenomenally and they chose some of the best songs from the album to perform live. I was really hoping to hear “Trophy Wife” but, alas, I was met with disappointment in that department. However, the level of energy, crowd participation moments and musicianship that I was able to witness, FAR made up for that.
The Show Must Go On, Pt. 1
Pretty In Porcelain
Brothers In Arms
Maze in My Mind
Tear Me Apart
The bottom line is this: If you haven’t bought your tickets for The Incubus tour yet and it’s coming to your area, you NEED to see it. Whether you’re a fan of this music or not, the musicians are incredibly personable and will make you a fan, regardless. Each band on the bill gave it every ounce of blood, sweat and tears that they had and it showed through every second of their performances. So, do yourselves a favor and purchase your tickets, pick up The Incubus, a pre-order for A Moment of Silence (see the merch table for a really special offer, exclusive to this tour) and Changes and get ready to have your life changed. The remaining dates for the tour are below, so don’t miss out! VIP for each date is available here.