The Hard Feelings Tour, Blessthefall’s 2018 headlining tour is jacked up like a juiced-up prizefighter and straight up, not going to beat around the bush here, the bands on this bill injected just the right dose of righteous ‘core that any fan could handle. In fact, I’m going to say if you’re just a fan of Blessthefall and aren’t familiar with the other bands on this bill then you need to get to the show early, get your metal mental notebook out, and start taking notes. When the tour stopped in Dallas, I was kind of surprised that when the bands asked if it was the first time to see them, there were more “whoo’s” than I would expect from metal’s most loyal and devoted following fans of the subgenre. It’s true, though right? You don’t find the loyalty that runs deep in metalcore that you find in the more mainstream genres of rock.
Now, I loved every single moment of this show. Why, you ask? Well lovelies, I’ll tell you. All five bands were kickass and all had a tad bit of individual flair that kept everything fans engaged with all the bands throughout the whole night. A WAR WITHIN kicked off the show and calibrated and tuned the audience into the same channel; dialed us all in, if you will. Here’s what I love about this band from Detroit; their unclean parts are punk-proded, fuckin’ gritty and heavy like the metal that’ll hold a body hostage. And then, and then…wait for it – yep, there is a sick sweet spot in the clean sing-song parts that is so smooth you almost think it’s another band. But, it’s NOT! And I think this is exactly why metalcore is coming up to the surface – it’s not just to suck in some air – it’s because of the diversity intertwined within the bands that create music like this. A WAR WITHIN does this exceptionally well. Check them out on Spotify if you’ve not heard of them until now, they will blow you back a couple of steps. (Specifically Promises…then listen to Where The Lines Are Drawn to hear the evolution…eek!! Ballz-tough!!)
THOUSAND BELOW played second and before the show, I sat down with JIMMY DEBERG, the singer for the band out of Cal-i-forn-ia to get to know more about the band and what they’re looking forward to with this tour. Now, you’ll have to read that interview later because it’s not a part of the show review, Lovelies, but lemme tell you, you’re going to want to read about the fun we had chatting before their show whilst melting outside in what was more like a swampy soup like mess instead of an early September afternoon.
Touring in support of their 2017 release The Love You Let Too Close via Rise Records, the band’s mission is to get in front of as many people as they can, which isn’t rocket science, but we aren’t trying to build a spaceship now are we?
This is what bands do now to build their brand; tour. It’s not enough anymore to just record a record, tour once and then repeat a year later. THOUSAND BELOW knows they have to get in front of people and getting their live show tweaked and fine tuned to go off without a hitch is as important as writing the songs they’ll perform. And that’s exactly what this band has done to compliment The Love You Let Too Close. For the 30 minutes they have onstage, they grab an audience and offer a strong hand to hold through their set of emotionally charged, sometimes intensely driven songs. And with each set they play to crowds across the country, they’re gaining ground. With just over 105K listeners on Spotify for example, their top three played songs, Tradition, Sinking Me, and No Place Like You have over 1M spins. Not to mention the newly released OMV (Official Music Video), Vein, that visually addresses and deals with the hard reality of how drug addiction impales and effects more than just the addict.
The dual vocals between JIMMY and guitarist JOSH THOMAS isn’t evident on the recordings but on stage, it’s an added bonus that took me by surprise. Their voices are oddly similar and when they’re singing or growling together, it’s almost like one is throwing their voice to show up all over the room, bouncing and jabbing ears like the sound is coming from speakers all over the room.
GARRET HALVAX marks out the rhythms and beats from the beginning of the set like x marks on a map that are followed by JOSH BILLIMORIA’s bass lines. They become silent leaders of the pack, their unison at times creates a powerful presence when infused with the screams of JIMMY and/or JOSH brings the audience to follow right in line, even if they weren’t paying full attention.
What happens with the guitars is nothing less than a metalcore-melee because the guitar parts are played so succinctly, it’s far more than carrying a melody or accentuating certain places in the song. DEVIN CHANCE and JOSH THOMAS take their guitar parts and create a subtle yet powerfully invisible sixth member of the band.
All of these elements mix up an awesome performance on stage because you are literally pulled into the feelings THOUSAND BELOW is evoking and spewing out on stage like the ash from a smoldering volcano. And at the end of their set, you’re covered in a layer of what came out over that 30 minutes. You can try and brush it off, but it’s not that easy. This is the stuff that sticks to you for days.
I love the band that played third, Ded. This is a band that literally jumped in front of my moving musical school bus back in early 2017. Slamming on my breaks so I could see what had just happened in front of me after their performance at ROCKLAHOMA, this band never disappoints live or recorded. In fact, for the last year and a half, they’ve been touring nonstop. For real, I don’t think they’ve seen their homes in Phoenix, Arizona for any significant amount of time for a year and a half. Home became the sanctity of their trailer and the hum of the road after touring much of the US and a tour across the pond.
They’ve used their time wisely though because they played a new song for us lucky folk in Dallas that was sick!! I’m going to wait to talk extensively about how much I love this band though. I need y’all to trust me, ok? If you’re not familiar with Ded, it’s your task to become familiar with them. And I don’t want you to check the box marked completed until you’ve become familiar with not only their debut record Mis-An–thrope, but how active they are with their fans and are lucky enough to have caught one of their live shows – even if you have to watch it on YouTube because they’re not coming to your city. All of these things will impress your ass off. So I’ll save what more I have to say about Ded until then.
Oddly enough, the fourth band was one that I thought I hadn’t seen before. I knew the band and was familiar with, but I couldn’t place the singer in my mind. As it turns out, I have seen them with iPREVAIL and WE CAME AS ROMANS in February of this year. I adore their song I Fucked Up which should be my theme song when I’m beating myself up because TELLE SMITH delivers this sonically pleasing and lyrically true like a passage from the holy book.
There must have been some kind of phenomenon that happened in Phoenix, Arizona the last 10 – 15 years because this band also calls Phoenix their home. Like the earth opened to I think their latest record from Fearless Records, Violent Noise that released in May is their 5th studio recording. Notable tracks on this record, after going back and listening are I Fucked Up and Human featuring Sincerely Collins. Also, I’ll note ZACK HANSEN’s keen talent with the guitar. His fingers impressively fly over the frets, punching out those chords that border on being math metal-like.
I totally dug their set as main support for Blessthefall. The energy the whole band displayed in Dallas was killer and ramped the audience up. Now, I have to apologize to the band for some of the Dallas audience’s rude AF behavior chanting out “Blessthefall” towards the end of the set. However, I have to give props to the obvious core fans for returning the chant, “The Word Alive” even louder drowning the interruption out and silencing them, and hopefully putting them, like the baby, in the corner.
Blessthefall closed the show to a hoard of screaming fans as BEAU BOKAN pounced on stage like he was chasing a laser. This whole band has the energy of playful baby wildcats and I say this to back up BEAU’S way of delivering this laser chasing performance but to emphasize the fact that I’m not talking about cuddly kittens here. I’m talking about a band that has insanely inert energy and takes it from zero to 13 in a heartbeat and then drops it down purposefully to pull in the attention of the audience and then in that same second, they take it right back up to the top. Now, while this may seem like my analogy is all cute and fluffy, let’s remember that wildcats are feral and they will strike when you least expect it.
That’s exactly what this band does. I saw them for the first time earlier in the year with OF MICE & MEN and was blown away by the interaction between the crowd and the whole band. The play between the music and the lyrics and the fervor of the show is stellar and wildly absorbing show makes Blessthefall one of the most memorable bands I’ve seen this year.
I love the fact that they tour with bands that a fan might not see otherwise. For example fans of OF MICE & MEN might not ever see or hear of Blessthefall but because of that tour, they did. Same with Blessthefall’s fans not hearing of the band’s tourmates on this bill. This is the other reason I love metalcore’s ability to crossover and be buddies with other subgenres for a night.
BEAU pulled up onstage with him Cane, who I refer to as the most famous 6-year-old in Dallas to sing “Sleepless In Phoenix” with him which was so freakin’ sweet! Although BEAU might not have known it at the time, Cane goes to almost every metalcore show that rolls through Dallas and has been on stage with VOLUMES, MEMPHIS MAY FIRE, FIRE FROM THE GODS, ATTILA, and now Blessthefall. Now, this isn’t some powerplay by his parents, Cane genuinely LOVES the music, knows all the words and delivers where most 6 year-olds would balk in front of hundreds of people. #truth #handtogod
Blessthefall gives an amazing headlining set to concert-goers and while these guys aren’t newcomers to the road or headline tours, their experience shines onstage and off. I know we will see more from this band even though I saw a sign a fan was holding up that this is MATT TRAYNOR’s last tour with the band. Not sure if this is true or not, but it’s worth at least mentioning because it shows how in tune fans are with bands they love in this subgenre. And even though I’ve typed “subgenre” a few times in this article, make no mistake that I don’t subscribe to the lines words like this one draws. Music is music; rock is rock and I love any band that makes me feel anything about myself or the world around me. I just refer to metalcore more in the ways of an attribute of metal, you know what I mean?
The Hard Feelings Tour remaining dates are listed below. This is a killer show and if you’re even just a moderate fan of just one of the bands on this bill – you need to go. I promise you won’t regret it because you’ll get a full tank of music to get you through the week or to the next show you go to.
REMAINING Blessthefall HARD FEELINGS TOUR DATES:
9/11 — Atlanta, GA — Masquerade
9/12 — Greensboro, NC — The Blind Tiger
9/13 — Baltimore, MD — Baltimore Sound Stage
9/14 — Reading, PA — Reverb
9/15 — Providence, RI — The Met
9/16 — New York, NY — Gramercy
9/17 — Montreal, QC — Fairmount
9/19 — Toronto, ON — Velvet
9/20 — Pontiac, MI — Crofoot Ballroom
9/21 — Columbus, OH — A&R Bar
9/22 — Pittsburgh, PA — Mr. Smalls
9/23 — Cleveland, OH — Grog Shop
9/25 — St. Louis, MO — Delmar Hall
9/26 — Chicago, IL — Bottom Lounge
9/28 — Lawrence, KS — Granada Theater
9/29 — Denver, CO — Bluebird Theater
9/30 — Salt Lake City, UT — The Complex
10/2 — Seattle, WA — Crocodile
10/3 — Portland, OR — Hawthorne Theatre
10/4 — Berkeley, CA — Cornerstone
10/5 — Pomona, CA — The Glass House
10/6 — Phoenix, AZ — Club Red