Better than: 90 percent of your other options on a Tuesday night.
"We do what we do for this, right here" decreed Every Time I Die lead singer, Keith Buckley, as he stood tall at the edge of Grand Central's stage, extolling the sanctity of sweaty club dates. Buckley's declaration was unnecessary: The band's performance had already spoken volumes about its love of playing live, and why Every Time I Die is still one of the most exciting live sets you're going to see in 2013. And either way, by this point in the night Buckley and his cohorts had stirred-up the audience to a level where they were far beyond comprehending any sort of verbal communication not delivered in Buckley's harsh scream.
The tour that brought Every Time I Die's Buffalo, New York, bred rock 'n' roll infused hardcore/metal to Miami, featuring a curious lineup of mosh-metal and watered-down hardcore bands that worked to make the headliner's set all the more exciting in contrast.
From Hundredth's synchronized pogo moves and awkward singing parts, to Vanna's innumerable mosh call cliche's and breakdown antics, the early part of the show was lost on us. However, the young crowd ate it up, and if there is a point to be made, it would be that we miss the days when tour packages were put together based on bands that wanted to tour together -- or at least what bands would make for a cohesive show -- and not so much based on who is going to fill the room with charged-up mall rats ready to spend dad's money at the merch tables.
The show really picked up when the Acacia Strain, also known as Massachusetts' gift to the breakdown, took the reigns and proceeded to pound the audience into a fine dust via its slowly lumbering rhythms and punishing riffs.
The Acacia Strain can be credited with sparking the "deathcore" phenomenon that swept the metal community a few years age by taking a page from Meshuggah's book of polyrhythms and applying a hardcore aesthetic to it. While the band made its bones with a three-guitar Cerberus of chug, they've since devolved into a simpler, one guitar band -- though we must mention that it had eight strings and was tuned lower than most doom metal bands.
The Acacia Strain's set was incendiary, and their intro alone caused a hectic pre-mosh display that churned Grand Central's dance floor and left one dude with what looked like a broken orbital. As the band played through the sludge-laden tracks of Death is the Only Mortal, the crowd chanted along with Vincent Bennett's newly adopted guttural inhale vocal style. Things came to a head when the band played "JFC," a fan favorite track off of Continent that had the crowd losing their ever-loving minds upon one another. Ignorant mosh bliss, for fans of the style.
After a blast of liquid nitrogen fogged out the entire room, cooling off the audience and perhaps even sterilizing the air of deathcore residue, Every Time I Die took the stage. As the band's "I" symbol rested behind the drum throne, which stood a proud 8-ish feet tall and illuminated like an old talk show set, the band let loose the jagged guitars and hammering drums of "Floater." As the brothers Buckley mounted the monitors at the foot of the stage and commanded the melee, the crowd pushed the steel barricades forward until more security was required to keep it in place. As the dissonant end of "Floater" segued into "Wanderlust," people were lifted over the heads of others and the crowd sang along to Buckley's clear croons and hellbent screaming.
The set was beyond intense, both on and off stage. At one point in the show, a fan threw Keith Buckley a Miami Heat hat which the singer wore for a few more songs until the fan requested it back. Buckley quipped about the returning the "gift" and assured everyone that it was alright as both he and Lebron were illuminati and that he "could get one at the next meeting." Buckley smirked behind the mic as he demanded that "Miami bang your fucking heads until they fall off," which was superfluous as everyone was already doing that, or jumping on someone's back for a mic dive, or moshing, or screaming lyrics back at the stage while behaving like a heard of wild animals. It was rock 'n' roll catharsis at its finest.
A major highlight of ETID's set was the band's inclusion of the breakdown portion of Pantera's "Domination" mid-set, and the final run through "Ebolarama," "We'rewolf," and "Indian Giver" that ended the show.
Someone flung a purple bra toward guitarist Andy Williams' side of the stage. Fans stage dove successfully, with only one failure. The guy got stuck on stage as a song ended, prompting the band to play a bonus part that they only break out specifically for stage divers with poor timing. The night ended with fans storming the stage, some standing next to Buckley as he sang and snapping photos for Instagram as the band played the final cowbell driven rollick through riff city.
Personal Bias: Big fan since a friend slipped me a burned copy of the Burial Plot Bidding War in high school.
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Random Observation: Stage diving isn't cool if you have to convince the people below to catch you. Just jump. More than five seconds on stage, you evolve from stage diver to stage potato.
(Taken from physical copy, some songs have weird names that don't match up.)
-"Partying is Such Sweet Sorrow"
-"Underwater Bimbos From Outer Space"
-"I Suck [Blood]"
-"Apocalypse Now and Then"
-"No Son of Mine"
-"Kill the Music"
-"The Marvelous Slut"
-"The New Black"