Tuesday night was metalcore night at the historic Cain’s Ballroom with the triple bill of Killswitch Engage, The Devil Wears Prada and Dark Tranquility. I got there just in time to see The Devil Wears Prada and Killswitch Engage; apologies to Dark Tranquility, I will have to catch you on the flipside.
I will be real honest here and state that I am not a big fan of “scream-o” heavy metal, nor am I very familiar with either of the two bands other then I have heard both their names a lot. But I am open to all types of music and willing to give anything a chance. Earlier that day, the Cain’s website announced the show had sold out. I have never in all my years of going to the Cain’s seen it so full. The ballroom looked like a tightly packed can of sardines; it was crazy!
First up was The Devil Wears Prada, a Christian metalcore band from Dayton, Ohio. They hit the stage like hungry, deranged tigers loosed from their cages. The band was very engaged with the crowd, and jumping all over the place. I have never seen a keyboard/synthesizer player in a metal band like this. I don’t even know how he played that thing with all the head banging going on, but I actually liked it. It brought another layer to the quality of the music. Musically, I dug these guys.
I am quite the note taker, so my plan of attack since I didn’t know any of their songs was to write down a few lines of the chorus from each song, and figure them out at home. My page started off like this; song 1) scream-o, song 2) scream-o. You catch my drift? They might as well have been singing “wha wha wha wha” (Charlie Brown adult characters) because there was no figuring out what they were saying; but the fans knew. I could see a few singing (or you could say scream-o-ing) along. Everyone was really into the show. Heads across the room had a little groove –bop going, but on the front row the barricade was heaving back and forth as if it was gasping for air and the wood plank dance floor was literally bouncing. If you are a fan of scream-o heavy metal, then The Devil Wears Prada is just the band for you. They absolutely deliver.
Finishing the night off was metalcore band Killswitch Engage from Westfield, Massachusetts. The lead singer, Howard Jones, has taken a leave of absence for the remainder of the tour to take care of some personal issues. Longtime friend of the band, Phil Labonte, of “All That Remains” is filling in until the tour ends this March.
KsE came out with both guns blazing. It was “POW!” in your face “rawk” music. The entire band has incredible stage presence, very charismatic. Matching that was a huge stage show of lights, ramps and backline LED screens. I couldn’t believe that Phil was the “fill –in guy”. He blended so well with the band you would have thought they had been touring together for years. A fan that I spoke with in the crowd said that Phil actually tried out for KsE, but that Howard got the gig instead. So they obviously go way back and have been close friends for a long time. I know I am reviewing music here, but Phil is pretty easy on the eyes too. Even though KsE does have quite a bit of screaming in their songs, they also do a lot of singing that I very much appreciated. I can tolerate the mixture much better. They played fan favorites like "The End Of Heartache", "My Last Serenade", "My Curse" and of course "Holy Diver" for an encore . The fans were soaking up every minute of it.
The turnout was very impressive yet surprising. When the Howard Jones announcement was made refunds were offered; obviously nobody took them up on it. The crowd that showed up for tonight’s show was every bit as energetic as the artists they came to see. Fists pumping, singing, screaming, bouncing, moshing, crowd surfing were all represented. One fan AND his wheelchair even took part in the crowd surfing (later it was just the wheel chair. Hope you made it out ok buddy.) Fan after fan was being brought from the crowd from what appeared to be heat exhaustion. There were many lined along the walls with water bottles trying to cool off and regain their strength. I read on KsE’s website that they have the best fans in the world. I truly believe that now. They were there to support their favorite band through thick and thin, even though Phil Labonte is no thin substitute, and they most certainly did.
Photos by: Kevin Pyle
Both TDWP and KsE’s music was tight, guitar screeching, bass thumpin’ fun. Even though that genre of music is not my favorite, it was one of the most incredible shows I have ever been to. I feel honored to have seen Phil on this tour with KsE since this is probably a once in a lifetime event. It was so inspiring to see the fan support this band has. I also wish all the best to Howard Jones for a healthy, refreshed return to Killswitch Engage. I look forward to more reviews with these guys.