Led by genuine curiosity for the night ahead of me, I begrudgingly entered Trees around 9:00 pm, hoping I would miss some, if not all of the opening bands. With such a late start to the show and a six band line-up, I knew it was going to be a long night filled with an achy back and sore knees. But, as I made my way to the stage, the curtains pulled back to reveal that I hadn’t waited long enough.
The heavy-rock band, AVOID greeted the crowd and enticed them to get off their feet and start moving around. Front man, Benny Scholl, impressed me with his stage presence and energy. He was constantly reminding the crowd to dance, mosh, or headbang, and he even jumped into the crowd himself…twice! I had never heard of AVOID before last night, but I won’t be forgetting them. They put on a really entertaining set. I’m actually glad I made it in time to see them because otherwise it would have been a pretty mediocre night at best.
Next to take the stage was the Canadian hard rock band, The Veer Union. I was also pleasantly surprised by this band’s set. I suppose I’ve been living under a rock since 2004 because I’m not familiar with their music, but it sounds like everything I grew up listening to on 97.1 The Eagle, so I was into it. Lead vocalist, Crispin Earl’s gritty and passionate voice won me over and had me engaged through each song. The Veer Union is a band full of guitar shredding, drumstick tricks and a whole lot of hair flips. They played through songs new and old alike and closed their set with a Linkin Park cover of “Numb,” and mashing in an encore verse of “One Step Closer.”
After thoroughly enjoying the previous two sets, I actually had high hopes that Red Jumpsuit Apparatus would shred through an awesome nostalgia-filled set. However, it was immediately apparent that, that wasn’t going to happen. Their stage presence kind of felt awkward and insincere. I don’t know if the passion is just gone after 16 years of being a band, or if it was an off night, but there really wasn’t much to write home about. Even the crowd, once riled up and head banging, now were just kind of standing around waiting for them to play one of their older hits (Especially that one drunk guy that was screaming at them to play “Face Down” after every single song). As if it wasn’t strange enough for them to be on the Shred Til You’re Dead Tour bill anyways, their set just felt out of place. Although it wasn’t the best performance, it didn’t ruin the night for me and I enjoyed hearing some old songs that I used to listen to off of my first generation iPod Nano.
As the clock hit midnight, the crowd collectively lost their shit when the curtains pulled back and Alesana took the stage. I was nonetheless bewildered when the crowd erupted in cheer because it was a complete 180 from the previous set. This energetic six-man band could not have picked a smaller stage to perform on. It was so chaotic and cramped on stage as they were all running and jumping around over each other. Alesana immediately brought the heat and had a remarkable amount of energy. They blazed through several songs with intensity and showed no signs of slowing down. I haven’t ever really been into their music, but I’ll be damned if it wasn’t an entertaining set to watch and it was genuinely fun to be a part of the crowd. The energy in the room was nuts with constant moshing, head banging, and a consistent flow of crowd surfers. The night was definitely redeemed after this set and I highly recommend catching Alesana live if you like unhinged and energetic shows.
– Lauren Frederick
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