It was a sold out show at Rams Head Live on February 9th, 2018. Rams Head holds 1,500 but the room didn’t seem to be filled to capacity. Most of the crowd was 21 or under with their parents and the whole room screamed EMO. Emo needs to be a new subgenre in the family tree of metal as so many new bands are falling into that category.
Emo bands are melodic and moody, portraying the heavy emotion involved in being young in the world today, to which today’s youth can relate all too well. As was evidenced by this sold out show.
Opening the night was Crown the Empire, an energetic ensemble out of Dallas, Texas. CTE played an enthusiastic and well-received set. Brent Taddie’s drums were powerful behind the band and, at times, tended to overpower them a bit. Their set consisted of mostly songs from their two previous albums, “Zero” being the only song performed off their latest release, ‘Retrograde’. Closing out with “Machines”, CTE exited the stage quickly for the transition to the highly anticipated co-headliners.
After a relatively quick turnaround, Asking Alexandria hit the stage like a jet engine opening with “Into the Fire”, the first single from their new, self-titled album released late-2017. The band was in top form, enjoying the amazing on-stage chemistry created by what is very close to their original line-up after having reunited with Danny Worsnop on vocals back in early 2017. Danny’s musical experimentation during his time away from AA has made him a versatile vocalist which shows brilliantly in both a live and studio presentation. Their set consisted of a mix of new songs and older songs, “Killing You”, “To the Stage”, “Under Denver”, “Run Free”. In my opinion, the show stopper being “Vultures”. Also my favorite song from the new album, “Vultures” was presented in acoustic format with just Danny and guitarist Ben Bruce on the stage. Danny’s vocals were just as strong and passionate live as they are on the studio version and not just this song but every song they played. Following “Vultures” was an equally impactful acoustic version of “Someone, Somewhere” which also showcased the musical chemistry between Danny and Ben along with their combined talent and unabridged diversity. Witnessing both of these songs, the emotion and the passion of both the songs and the performance, was truly an Emo moment.
Three more new songs followed, “Eve”, “Where Did it Go?” and “Alone in a Room” which led into the encore. Today’s young audiences don’t seem to be familiar with the encore concept. They seem to know the band will come back out as the house lights haven’t come up. But, they are clueless to the notion of making a bunch of noise to entice the band to come back out. There was a brief chant of “one more song” but it didn’t last long. Thankfully, the awkward silence was broken when AA came back out and satisfied the brooding crowd with two selections from ‘From Death to Destiny’, “Moving On” and “The Death of Me”. The Emo vibe was firmly set for the evening.
The show culminated with Emo giants, Black Veil Brides. Descending on the stage in all their Emo glory, C.C., Jake, Jinxx, Ashley and Andy were visually striking and wonderfully loud which was necessary to drown out the frantic screaming from the mostly adolescent female audience. Preceded by “Faithless” and “Coffin” was the first of only two songs off of the new album, ‘Vale’, that they played, “Wake Up”, followed quickly in succession by “I Am Bulletproof” and “Rebel Love Song”. The second of the new songs played, “When They Call My Name”, was well-received by fans and the crowd singing made it clear that, despite the band’s overall decibel level, Andy’s mic wasn’t quite loud enough, an issue they’ve had both times I’ve seen them live. It was after this song that it became apparent that the girls in the crowd were screaming at Andy’s every move. It reminded me of the stories spun of being in the crowd for a Beatles show back in the `60s. There was also crying involved.
What followed were some of BVB’s most popular and iconic songs. “Lost It All”, “The Legacy”, “Wretched and Divine” and “Knives and Pens” led into yet another encore space filled with awkward silence and weak chants of “one more song” and “Andy”. I wonder how the other guys in the band feel about that? Maybe someone should publish an article about concert etiquette so we can school the younger generations on the finer points of what to do during this break in the festivities. The awkward silence was once again broken when BVB returned to the stage to close out the show with “Perfect Weapon”, “Fallen Angels” and “In the End”. Once the guys were done throwing drumsticks and guitar picks into the remaining crowd, the house lights came up to reveal scores of exhausted yet satisfied kids and their parents who were glad it was over.
The night was not without its heartwarming moments. A young disabled girl was seen rocking out with a staff member on the stage to her favorite band during Asking Alexandria. Then during Black Veil Brides’ set, Andy plucked a young girl of about four or five years old out of the audience and held her on stage while her mom took pictures. Both were really sweet gestures, gave both of those fans amazing memories and made themselves appear more human at the same time. Kudos.
Stellar performances by all bands appearing. Asking Alexandria, with the return of Danny Worsnop, has really come into its own and will continue to enjoy success. Black Veil Brides was also on point with their shiny Emo angst that has sold out every Maryland show they’ve played in the past five years. If Emo is your thing, run, don’t walk, to this tour. And, GET IN LINE EARLY!