On Friday night, I headed downtown to the exquisite Club Nokia for the Los Angeles stop of the AP Tour. I went in to the show expecting to be a little old for some of the bands in terms of what my current music tastes are, but I wasn’t about to pass up an opportunity to see August Burns Red, a band that I have a lot of nostalgia for. I ended up leaving with a positive impression of the lineup and the tour overall. There might be a lot of people coming out just to see Bring Me the Horizon, but this tour allows them to get exposed to deserving smaller bands like Polar Bear Club and This Is Hell in the process. As long as every band puts in the effort to play a solid set – and they certainly did on Friday – the AP Tour isn’t a bad way to spend your evening at all. At 17 bucks for 3+ hours of live music, it’s a bargain you shouldn’t turn down.
Here’s a rundown of each of the lineup’s performance.
This Is Hell
I arrived a little late and missed the opening act’s set, but made it just in time to catch the last 4 songs or so of This Is Hell’s hardcore frenzy. Equipped with a breakneck punk pace and flaming guitar solos, This Is Hell brought a gung-ho energy that easily secured them as one of the highlights of the night. A good portion of the crowd, which was primarily here to see the headliners, was into it, too, which means the band is doing something right. Maybe tossing water bottles into the crowd like there was no such thing as water shortage had something to do with it, or maybe it didn’t. But from my end, it was the music that did all the energizing.
Polar Bear Club
PBC may not have been overtly spectacular, but they too put on a solid, energetic set. Vocalist Jimmy Stadt was right on key with his signature rasp, and while they didn’t capture the attention of as much of the audience (probably due to the genre barrier), they sounded like a band poised to take over the modern hardcore punk/pop-punk scene. Also of note: one of their guitarists looks like Cameron from Ferris Bueller when he sings.
Jonny Craig plowed through Emarosa’s first few songs in a rather mediocre fashion, his voice scratchy and unappealing. But by the end of the set, he had worked himself into tip-top shape. Even then, Emarosa’s set was surprisingly hit-or-miss with the crowd. Half of the audience was mesmerized by Craig’s soothing wail; the other half could be seen yawning. Personally, I fell in with the former half, despite not knowing or liking any Emarosa. I will, however, admit that I left the set a big fan of their song “A Toast to the Future Kids!” Craig’s been blessed with a beautiful set of pipes.
August Burns Red
This band effortlessly showed why they are hands down the best band doing generic metalcore today. Jake Luhrs had little trouble rattling the venue with his roars, at times pushing his vocals to a sound that transcended even the level he reaches on ABR’s albums. The rest of the band added scathing energy to the set, entrancing a good majority of the audience. To illustrate how captivating the band was, the venue floor was shaking from the crowd jumping up and down (Club Nokia is located on the second floor of a larger building). Southern California is due for a 6.7+ earthquake sometime in the next 30 years, and there were multiple times during the set when I thought it had come upon us. This was especially relevant when the band decided to play “Indonesia” for the first time in LA. All paranoia aside, however, it’s great to hear people screaming along to positive lyrics like “You’ve got your whole life to lead.” I hope this band sticks around for a long time.
Bring Me the Horizon
BMTH is a band with an evolving sound. On their latest album, There Is a Hell, Believe Me I've Seen It. There Is a Heaven, Let's Keep It a Secret, they take a step towards the melodic and put their former breakdown-obsessive sonic on hiatus. It’s too bad, then, that they only played three tracks from There Is a Hell… Coming in largely unfamiliar with the band’s catalog, I could easily distinguish between the newer, more mature songs and the older songs, which, for the most part, were just messy, un-cohesive breakdowns strung together. Regardless, Oli Sykes was probably the most sprightly band member on the tour that night, shrieking, growling and pouncing through a 30+ minute set.
Side note: one of the highlights of the night was two businessmen who looked about 50 and had probably just gotten off work since they were still in work clothes. They stood in the back, bobbing their heads and mouthing the lyrics to every Bring Me the Horizon song. They say the best music has fans of all ages, but I don’t know about this case…
I didn’t expect to be entertained by every band, but it turned out that there was something memorable about every set. I do recommend hitting up the tour if it comes near you, even if it’s for nothing more than to support one of the 5 bands.
The AP Tour receives 4 out of 5 50-year old Oli Sykes fanboys.