On Sunday, January 13th, I caught the 2nd day of the Of Mice & Men headliner with Woe, Is Me, Texas In July, Volumes, and Capture The Crown. The show took place at the Hawthorne Theater in Portland, OR, on an unusually chilly evening. Enthusiasm was at a high point, as many people camped outside the front of the venue in hopes of either scoring any extra tickets released (this show had been sold out for 2 weeks), or meeting someone from one of the bands.
Capture The Crown is a newer band from Australia that Sumerian Records has been pushing almost every single day via social media outlets; no matter how many times they post a video, the comments are overwhelmingly negative. Perhaps Sumerian should have taken notice when Make Me Famous quickly fizzled out in part to it's mediocre lyricism and egotistic attitudes - too late, I suppose, since they signed Capture The Crown only a few months ago and released Til Death in December.
This band takes everything you hate about music, puts it in a blender, and throws it right back at you. Guitars often sit on open-note chugging, the drummer can barely keep up with what's going on, and the vocals are average at best. Lyrics? "Your time is up,
look me in the eyes, you slut. Your time is up bitch, you filthy fucking cunt" or "You say that shit to me, and I don't give a fuck. Say it to my face, I'll end you" - what makes things worse is that these types of lyrics are thrown on bright colored t-shirts for kids to buy. When in America, gotta recoup those travel fees, right? In the end, I really hope Capture The Crown stops being a band immediately and does something more productive with their lives - because at the end of the day, they were polite off stage, which says a lot.
Volumes was fantastic. They raised the bar so many notches compared to the last time I had seen them (100 cap room w/ It Prevails and Betrayal in 2010), it's unbelievable. Songs like "The Colombian Faction" and "Wormholes" help showcase the band's technicality, as well as get the crowd moving. Lead vocalists (yes, two vocalists) Micheal Barr and Gus Farias sound absolutely ferocious, creating an extremely powerful duo. Being on a large tour like this is a huge deal for the band, as they're able to showcase what they can do to a sold-out crowd every night, allowing them to have their sound mixed professionally, leaving no doubt about the band's potential. One should note that Volumes is not only the heaviest sounding band on the tour, but clean vocals generally never make an appearance on any song. That being said, be on the look out for the band to mix in "Edge of The Earth" on rare occasions with Hance Alligood of Woe, Is Me doing the clean vocal part - I would've loved to see that, but I still had a great time regardless.
It's always great seeing Texas In July live, because each member takes the attitude of being the best they can be, regardless of what they do. Seriously, this was the 5th time seeing the band in the last 2 years, and they've gotten better and better after every performance, and this one was no exception. Bassist Ben Witkowski flung himself all over the place and jumped into the crowd with his bass in tow, he definitely had the most fun out of anyone in the band - maybe he watched some YouTube videos of The Chariot playing or something. Vocalist Alex Good sounded stronger than ever, and drummer Adam Gray is still one of the most impressive drummers I have ever had the pleasure of watching, next to August Burns Red's Matt Greiner and Miss May I's Jerod Boyd. Unfortunately the set was cut off 2 songs early, but "Cry Wolf" and "Hook, Line, And Sinner" were memorable tracks that got my head banging.
If you recall the review that Woe, Is Me's sophomore effort Genesi[s] got from fellow staffer Jack Appleby, you'd probably also consider it got mixed reviews. In fact, other than the fantastic closer "Family First", I didn't care for it much either. But you'd also consider whether or not the band can still put on a good performance, right? Spoiler alert: Yes, they still can.
If you've seen the band recently and you weren't into it, give them another shot, I think you'll be caught a little bit off guard. I remember the last time I had seen this line-up, vocalist Doriano Magliano was thrust into the spotlight last minute on the We Came As Romans "Fire & Ice" tour - wouldn't it be plausible to consider that it takes some time for everyone to gel with each other? I think so - Magliano undoubtedly looked more confident and gave a much stronger performance, he's here to stay. Meanwhile, clean vocalist Hance Alligood sounded spot on during "Fame > Demise" & "Mannequin Religion", while still singing the way he wants to. And sue me, but I loved watching drummer Austin Thornton play during the band's cover of Ke$ha's "We R Who We R" - where's Betrayal guitarist Sean Chamilian when you need him? He would've loved that shit!
"I got that war paint on my eyes, [s] Army standing by my side" - I hope people hang in there and take that line to heart, because I have good word that the band has a few tricks up their sleeve to make their mark on 2013. If you're going to write them off for good, perhaps you'd better check them out on this summer's Warped Tour and give them another go.
Of Mice & Men's live performance is really a lot to take in all at once, especially at a venue like the Hawthorne, that doesn't employ a barricade. One minute a kid knocks over fill-in bassist Aaron Pauley (formerly of Jamie's Elsewhere)'s mic stand, another gives vocalist Austin Carlile a hug before flinging himself into a sea of people. It's just madness right from the get-go.
Once the band kicks into opening song "O.G. Loko", they're not going to let up or take any significant breaks - once the train has left the station, it's coming full force at an alarming rate. Each time the band passes Portland, they never let up until they're all drenched in sweat and can't go any longer. The longest pause came near the end of the set, when Carlile expressed that people need to go home and learn all the words to their song "The Great Hendowski". Aaron Pauley shined bright throughout the set, and I would love nothing more than for him to become a full time member - he fits in very well with the other members in the band. Pauley absolutely nailed his vocal duties on every song, most notably on "Let Live". Drummer Valentino Arteaga was absolutely spot on with his drumming and was really entertaining to watch, it almost was as if he was in friendly competition with Adam Gray from Texas In July; when the last note hit on "The Depths", I could instantly tell that Arteaga had given everything he had to us that night.
One of my favorite things about the set was the inclusion of all 4 new tracks that appeared on the re-release of The Flood - The Calm, The Storm, The Flood, and The Depths; as most would know, The Depths has quite the violent build up (and quite the compelling bridge), and when it breaks into the first verse it felt like you got punched in the face. If you're not exhausting every ounce of your energy you have while Of Mice & Men are on stage, you're doing it completely wrong. The inclusion of these four tracks was a real treat, and may not be included in future tours.
Of Mice & Men are on fire right now, and if you're still able to grab a ticket for any of the remaining tour dates, you'd better get on it now while you still can.