This is a Special WCAR Show Review that I thought deserved its own post. I think it is also fair to say that I believe BAD OMENS and BULLET FOR MY VALENTINE need to get my undivided attention as they gave me an amazing show last Friday. Keep on the lookout for this article link on the Cherri Bird Facebook page.
When a band announces plans to tour and I see the press release from their camp or their publicist, I feel like I’ve just received a personal “Save the Date” card for a graduation, engagement, marriage, baby shower or some wildly significant event. Especially when it’s a band that I adore. And if you’re not familiar with me and my odd musical tastes, you have to know one thing. I love and adore WE CAME AS ROMANS (WCAR).
You can imagine my surprise and excitement (and the squealing like a teenager coming out of The Bird’s Nest) when BAD OMENS, and WE CAME AS ROMANS announced this June that they were hitting the road with BULLET FOR MY VALENTINE (BFMV) this fall.
I was super-stoked as the days clicked by and September 21th got closer. Then, the unthinkable happened. On August 25th it was reported that KYLE PAVONE, clean vocalist and keyboard/synth for WE CAME AS ROMANS had passed away. For the Metalcore community, this was a blow right to the gut. After dropping their latest record Cold Like War in October 2017 and completing two successful tours with I PREVAIL and their own headlining tour in March of this year, it seemed impossible that this could happen to a band like WCAR. Impossible to think that the energy displayed by WCAR at one of their shows and gave every audience member so much joy, was missing from a member that served it up. That the way Cold Like War’s songs lifted fans and listeners up about dark and hurtful emotions, didn’t work on even the ones that wrote the music. It was impossible to think of the end of WCAR as a whole or a stage without KYLE on it.
Knowing how paralyzing the loss of a loved one or best friend that was like a member of your family was, I couldn’t even begin to think what the rest of the band was going through. I can say this when you write music with people, what comes out comes from somewhere deep within. And this output not only helps heal the artists but causes a connection with fans that creates a deeper connection with every listen. While you listen, while the music is played, a part of you passes away with them. And from personal experience, I can also say that it feels like on the surface it will never stop hurting or that it will never go away. Both of those fears are reality because it doesn’t ever stop hurting and it never goes away. It does get easier to deal with or to live with if you process and deal with the feelings.
When DAVE STEPHENS announced that the band would perform on the BULLET FOR MY VALENTINE Tour, fans in the US let out just a tiny bit of the breath we were all holding in our lungs that month, waiting to hear what the band would do. And I think we all kept holding our breath because we just we were waiting to let it out with the band as we saw them on stage.
Personally, KYLE’S death was really f’ing hard for me for a variety of reasons. Cold Like War played a gazillion times (and I still play it) from the time I got the pre-release. KYLE sang the lyrics that stuck to me like insects to sticky tape hanging in the breeze during some really difficult times. My daughters, age ten and six, loved the band too. My youngest came to the venue they played at in Dallas to see the stage, the instruments, sound check, and even got to meet LOU, who gave her a guitar pic. I wish I would have kept her for the show now, so she could have seen KYLE with them, at least for a song or two.
I was, selfishly, glad that they were staying on the tour because I really wanted to see them and I wanted to support the band in any way I could. I also wanted to say goodbye to KYLE in my own way and internally with the band.
Friday the 21st of September arrived and the weather called for thunderstorms which held off until I made my way up to HOUSE OF BLUES entrance when the sky opened up and it felt like a bucket of water poured on my head. There’s no significance to the rain and this recount of that night. Maybe the 8 inches of rain Dallas received that night was in concert with the release from fans in letting as much as we could of KYLE go. Maybe the rain was symbolic to WCAR or will be in the future, that can be a sign that doing the tour was the downpour that washed them clean; not from KYLE or his memory, but in a way that gave them some peace.
Each band member was tethered by an invisible rope; the music WCAR played kept all five members from drifting or getting lost in their own thoughts. I almost did not want to photograph their set because I felt like I almost intruding in private moments that didn’t need to be shared with the public. But I continued for the sheer fact that what I wanted to capture in this performance wasn’t about the performance necessarily. What I realized when I got home and started developing the images, was that just like DAVE said it being ok to show sadness or pain, I wanted others to see it that didn’t go to the show or maybe didn’t know the band at all.
These images below capture what I don’t want anyone to see while going through times of strife and trouble, pain, sadness, anger, and loss. We all think that we have to be perfect in the eyes of perfect strangers and even family and friends. That just by answering, “I’m fine.” when asked how we’re doing and we’re anything but fine is just courtesy for both people because surely they don’t care and I don’t care to tell them – or whatever deep seeded reason justifies our need to make it all seem like it’s all good. I want people to know that it’s ok to show that you’re not ok at times. And if these rising rockstars can show us and rise above, then so can we.
This set in Dallas was one of the best shows I’ve ever seen for the sheer fact that what was in front of us was real, raw, emotional, painful, joyous, and comforting. The heroes were DAVE, JOSHUA, ANDY, and LOU because they showed us, to our faces, what real life was as rockstars. And on some level, seeing that vulnerability and literal pain that I could see in all of them as they made it through the set, was cathartic.
I loved what DAVE said from the stage when he finally addressed the crowd after the first 3 or 4 songs,
Thank you for spending this with us, coming to the show. It is the hardest thing we’ve ever done as a band. But it has taught us that it’s ok to be sad, it’s ok to be sad and show it. We are all hurt and we miss him, but we are here to celebrate him. And it was hard for me, for us to think back and to not know that he felt alone and sad as bad as he did. But now we can say to you or anyone, ‘If you feel alone and need to talk, find someone, anyone.’ The KYLE PAVONE FOUNDATION was set up by his family and we support it so that the foundation can help others.”
I urge y’all not to be afraid to show your emotions or feelings. Our emotions – even the ugly ones – are what every human being experiences probably on a daily basis. Our emotions and feelings are valid and they are a part of us; stitched into our fabric that sometimes comes unraveled. Sometimes it’s too tight, or too baggy. Sometimes it is just right, and sometimes we’re mixing plaids and stripes, or wearing something made from this fabric inappropriately. But these emotions of ours are ours, they’re valid no matter how outlandish they might seem to others. Feeling alone because you can’t express how you feel shouldn’t happen because everyone, and I mean everyone has the same ones at different periods through their lives.
What happens with these emotions are where the confusion lies between actions and feelings. But feeling something and having emotions are totally yours to own and process. I think we’ve been so programmed to hide how we are really feeling, that somehow we’ve confused emotions with actions. Being sad or angry is not wrong, it’s not worth keeping inside to fester like a boil! It’s not worth keeping inside piling up on top of each other until you have to do something else to counteract the fullness that is inside.
I hope as you scroll through these images, you’ll see where life happens in the midst of pain and grief. You’ll also see where happiness lives in this same space too and that is the soil where hope and healing grows. And a special message for the band: I wish nothing but love you guys as you continue on this journey. And that being with your fans and doing what you love to do the most helps heal your loss of the one who was there and still remains in the music.
I hope readers will catch WE CAME AS ROMANS on tour with BULLET FOR MY VALENTINE and BAD OMENS this next month. Because you’re gonna get a killer show with a huge heap of humanity at its core…metalcore that is!
Til Next Time – MLMR – Cherri
The Opposite of Addiction is Connection: Please donate to the KYLE PAVONE FOUNDATION even if it’s $5. Honestly though, if every fan on the band’s Facebook page donated $1, the foundation would have over a million dollars and a great start in assisting with education, community involvement, and helping those that have lost a loved one to recover and regain strength from tragedy.