The reason the all-indoor “Cool Tour” was a good idea became apparent as the high temperature broke 100 degrees in Tempe Arizona. The relative comfort of the air-conditioned Marquee Theater provided a welcome respite from the heat, at least until the eight-band metal onslaught brought the temperatures right back up.
An hour wait between doors and the first band can make a crowd restless, but War of Ages burst out of the gate with “Through the Flames,” leading into a trio of songs from their new record Eternal, and finished up with the worshipful “All Consuming Fire.” These melodic metal heads from Pennsylvania have performed support duties on all of their previous tours, but if the crowd’s reaction was any indicator, they’re ready for a headlining tour of their own.
The crowd was decidedly less enthusiastic about Canadian hardcore punk-rockers Cancer Bats. That is, until they unleashed a ripping cover of the Beastie Boys’ “Sabotage,” which spawned the first dance pit of the night.
Metalcore artists from across the pond Architects delivered an extremely tight performance. Their drummer was precise and technical despite having filled in for the Cancer Bats, whose drummer was missing for reasons which were not revealed to the audience.
By far the heaviest band of the tour, Acacia Strain brought out the diehard fans in a massive “push-mosh” pit that engulfed the majority of the room.
Hometown heroes Blessthefall delivered a high energy set that kicked off with album opener “2.0,” followed by their current single “To Hell and Back.” Their performance of “Guys Like You Make Us Look Bad,” off of their debut album, proved that Beau Bokan has no problem covering former vocalist Craig Mabbitt’s parts.
Between the Buried and me delivered their trademark blend of progressive, metal, hardcore, jazz, and whatever else they happen to feel like in the most technically impeccable performance of the show. I had been concerned that they wouldn’t be able to measure up their studio work in a live setting, but the sheer musicianship of this band blew me away.
On their first tour following the departure of drummer/vocalist Aaron Gillespie, Underoath has taken some flak from diehard fans of Gillespie/Chamberlain-era UO, but the crowd didn’t have any doubts about their performance. Following a video intro, the band flew into a ruthless rendition of “Breathing in a New Mentality,” with keyboardist Chris Dudley helping out Gillespie replacement Daniel Davison with his own three-piece drum kit. Vocalist Spencer Chamberlain’s mic levels seemed low, although this may have been intentional, as this is his first tour performing clean vocals as well as screams. In a potentially disastrous move, UO performed fan favorite “It’s Dangerous Business Walking Out Your Front Door.” Chamberlain enlisted the crowd’s help during the iconic chorus, and it worked despite lacking Gillespie’s feel. They wrapped up with the debut track off Define the Great Line, “In Regards to Myself,” but the seizure-inducing light show made it difficult to even look at the stage.
Following a lengthy sound check and lightshow introduction, headliners As I Lay Dying took the stage to the recorded intro from “This Is Who We Are.” Despite the prior five and half hours of moshing, hardcore dancing, and circle pits, the crowd’s energy level was through the roof as they waited for the band to take the stage. As AILD began their set with “94 Hours,” the crowd rushed the barrier, screaming along with every word. During a rare breather, Tim Lambesis, a Scottsdale native, announced that his three brothers were in attendance, and that this was the first time they’d all been together in six years. Jordan Mancino and his mustache awed everyone in attendance with his trademark drum solo, following in the footsteps of greats like Scott Travis and Lars Ulrich. After a blazing performance of fan favorite “Through Struggle,” Lambesis was informed that they had gone over their time allotment, so they ended the night with their classic double-kick-drum-galloping “Confined.”
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