February 10, 2012
The Glass House
It's been a long time since I've been to a concert that was so heavily populated by 15-year-olds. I also don't think I've heard music that was simultaneously filled with such angsty anger and (subtly Christian) positivity. Needless to say, Attack Attack! does it well. The concert at the Glass House last Friday, featuring Attack Attack! along with Dream on, Dreamer, Sleeping with Sirens, Chunk! No, Captain Chunk!, and The Ghost Inside, was successful at making me feel both encouraged and pissed off.
It seems like that's what much of hardcore music is about these days, especially with the rise of straight edge culture. The Glass House is a great venue for this moshing, elbow-throwing, crowd-surfing mass. The floor was just large enough for a front fist-pumping section, a mosher's opening in the middle, and a back row and balcony for those were tired of the throng (or hesitant to enter in the first place). Glass House security has an awesome catch-and-release program for ambitious crowd-surfers that make their way to the front, filtering them right back into the mob.
This show is marked by theatrical openings. Each band comes on stage, sets up, does a quick sound check, then walks off stage, waits for the lights to come down, and reappears. It's a bit much, but I suppose you can't blame them for wanting a dramatic entrance. The first band to come on, Dream on, Dreamer, even opens their set with vocalist Marcel Gadacz's bold statement, “This might be the heaviest song ever written,” followed by Callan Orr flinging his guitar around mid-riff.
French band Chunk! No, Captain Chunk! (named after The Goonies) is a breath of fun amidst the drama. The first band member back on stage is in a full panda suit. I still have no idea why, but does a fuzzy bear suit really need explaination? Vocalist Bertrand Poncet has an impressive voice, especially for a small guy. His humor comes to a head at the end of their set, where they cover Ke$ha's “We Are Who We Are,” metalcore style. Sleeping with Sirens gets a lot of hype, but comes out with a standard performance. I'm sure it was very attractive and seductive to the somber teen girls in the crowd, in the same kind of way that the Jonas Brothers is attractive to screaming pre-teens.
It was obvious that The Ghost Inside, the LA-based band formerly known as A Dying Dream, is a kind of runner-up for the show's headline. Jonathan Vigil makes a good impression, looks excited, and pleases the crowd. Unfortunately for him, Aaron Brooks communicates a much more real human pain and anger in his growl, making even Vigil's well-practiced growly grumbling sound like a whiney adolescent. Overall it's a truly good set, despite the fact that I can't stop laughing when one of the band members roars, “Who wants a free T-shirt?” quite seriously into the microphone.
Then, finally, Attack Attack! By now people are getting tired. Caleb Shomo seems worried about it throughout the set, constantly encouraging everyone to “keep moving!” “sing it!” and “jump!” In fact, there isn't much time at all in which people aren't jumping and/or clapping in unison. The lyrics expose their Christian foundation just enough to be positive and passionate (pun not entirely intended), but not enough to discourage some of the darker metal fans. However, I can't see how they can deny that much of their music falls into the category of Christian rock. In any case, it's clear why this band is so popular. It's accessible and catchy. The songs rely more on hooks, choruses, and general vocal vamping than the other bands.
During the show there is a constant line for what I started to call the “people cannons,” which are basically small groups of people who ceremoniously flip a person up and over their heads, hopefully into the hands of others who lurch them towards the stage. At all seems to be in the name of expressing energy, whether it is in the form of fists in the air, heated lyrics being screamed at full volume, kicking indiscriminately, or (more likely) all of the above. The only part of the show that's really bothersome is the scrim/wall in the background of the stage that looks like it was made by middle-aged guys who think they know what “kids these days” like. It's a faux brick wall with what was probably supposed to look like graffiti on it, with the statements “I'll fight this war alone” and “REVOLUTION.” I get that this is a reference to Attack Attack!'s recent album This Means War, but come on, man.
Critic's Bias: I've only ever had Xs on my hands because I was under-age.
Overheard in the Crowd: “If that little girl doesn't get out of the mosh pit she's going to get beat. And if she doesn't get out and she manages to not get beat I might have to ask her out.” “Panda Suit! A fucking panda suit!” “I don't know if I can jump any more.” “Sinners! What will you do when your role models die? Model yourself after someone who lives eternally.” “We're Satanists so suck it and shut up!”
Random Notebook Dump: The crowd surfer catch and release program doesn't focus at all on rehabilitation.
Dream On, Dreamer
Chunk! No, Captain Chunk!
Sleeping with Sirens
The Ghost Inside