Teenage angst was alive and well at Gas Monkey Bar n’ Grill Tuesday night.
Santa Cruz, all the way from Helsinki, Finland, kicked the evening off a little after 6:30pm. They bring plenty of hair with their metal. Archie Cruz is incredibly charismatic and interacts well with the audience. I felt like they were a great opener to really get the crowd going and the energy flowing. Although not near as heavy as the rest of the line up, they bring great rifts, lots of energy, and that classic metal sound which they’ve put their own spin on. I’m highly impressed with them and hope to see them on a Dallas stop in the future.
Up next for our carnal pleasure was Tempting Fate from Los Angeles, California. Heavy and melodic, they came to leave their mark on Dallas. Lead singer Cory Beecher is all over the place and I mean that in the best way possible. As the first note hit, he never stopped moving from stage right to stage left and down onto the rail. They sparked the movement in the still small crowd that I had been waiting to see. I really liked the song “SIK,” it‘s heavy but gives you moments to sing along with the crowd around you. Every member of the band looked like they left it all on stage. This was one of the best sets of the evening.
He is Legend sent us off into the night. Although not my shot of whisky, the crowd really seemed to enjoy them. Schuylar Croom is a great front man who seemed influenced by Steven Tyler’s stage presence, basically using the microphone stand as a dancing partner. I really enjoyed Jesse Shelley on drums. He is phenomenal at his job and puts on one hell of a show from behind his kit. It did kind of seem like a step back on the heaviness with a more rock and roll vibe just dialed up a little. They ended their set with “Boogiewoman,” which had a great sing along factor.
Whitechapel came on close to 9pm and was the heaviest act of the night. Phil Bozeman has mastered his craft. This was my first time seeing them live and they didn’t disappoint. As a photographer first and foremost, I do have a question: why would you want to play your whole set in darkness? I get that it‘s about the music, but several of the people I talked to seemed pretty miffed about not being able to really see the band. Either way, they brought the brutality to Gas Monkey. The crowd was packed in and the pit overflowed with bodies. One guy even dawned a full chicken costume. They ended their set with “The Saw is The Law” and pushed the already packed crowd into a frenzy.
The moment that most of us came for was finally upon us when the mighty Atreyu graced the stage. They did something interesting with this tour by letting the fans vote on their setlist. The whole set touched on every album, but was heavier on The Curse and Suicide Notes and Butterfly Kisses. The set started with “The Time is Now,” followed by “Right Side of the Bed,” to a roar of cheers from the packed in crowd. During the third song, all of the instruments and microphones lost power. It’s hard to say on whose end the problem was, but Alex Varkatzas took it in stride making jokes while the techs worked quickly to get it resolved.
The stage set up was really cool, it brought a stadium tour feel to a smaller venue. Steps led up to an extremely tall drum riser where Brandon Saller’s thrown sat. However, this kind of made him hard to see over everything. I had been looking forward to this for a couple weeks, as it has been years since I saw them last, and I couldn’t have been happier with this experience. They played some of my absolute favorites, such as “Becoming the Bull,” ”Bleeding Mascara,” and ”The Crimson.” The pit grew and grew until there wasn’t much room for standing on the sides. Bassist Marc “Porter” McKnight even joined in on the festivities, playing from within the circle of the pit for almost a full song. The guys in Atreyu are still putting on one of the best live shows almost 20 years after they started and I hope we get at least another eighteen out of them.
– Brently Kirksey
– click to enlarge photos –