10 Years bring passion to Gramercy Theatre, NYC 6-19-15 w/ Skytown Riot, Islander, & Starset

Music is a universal language that can liberate the soul. Regardless of the genre, it is there to awaken all minds with all forms of emotion. Artists have toured tirelessly throughout the globe, to spread their wisdom, tunes, and showcase their dedication to their fans. Regardless of efforts, there are many critics out there where in one city could love an artist, and in another, be not so kind.  The band from Knoxville Tennessee known as 10 Years took reign in one of the most critical cities, New York City, to show what they are made of on Friday June 19, 2015 at the Gramercy Theatre. Approaching the end of this touring cycle, which held seventeen tour dates that began during the end of May and officially ended on June 23rd at Virginia Beach, it was their night to manifest and vanquish the audience with Metal horn approval. The diverse supporting acts of the night included the up and coming Rock band Skytown Riot, the Post-Hardcore red-hot Islander, and the outer limit electrifiers Starset. This medley assortment was the perfect dosage to kickstart a weekend of Rock-n-Roll with a bill that had something for everyone.

First up to the spotlight was Skytown Riot. After spending a few years jamming together, four friends from Knoxville, Tennessee decided to perfect their sound and become an official band in 2012. These cronies include Van Gallik (vocals/guitar), Cody Hensley (keyboard), Jason Fruchey (bass), and Sebastian Dunkel (drums). Their EP, Soul or System, was released in 2013, which led them to tour with acts such as Halestorm and Filter. Stylistically, they are a combination between Muse, Arctic Monkey’s, as well as Radiohead, and have been perfecting their own unique craft along the way.

With the lights dimmed, a soothe keyboard began for the harmonic track called “Sensational,” from their aforementioned Soul or System EP. Gallik’s vocals were up to par and the crowd was captivated by this new sound. Moving into the upbeat track of “Misbehave” had everyone grooving along, especially with the help of Hensley on the keys. Surprising all, Gallik asked the crowd if they could recognize the next track as they performed a snippet of Europe’s “The Final Countdown.” It was a nostalgic and enjoyable surprise, however, short lived as they moved into their lesser-known song titled “Dynamo,” which is about accepting the harsh realities our Blue Planet faces. Taking in the moment to talk to their new found fans, Gallik was in awe of the crowd and emphasized how much they love New York City as they continued with the heavy “Runaway Princess.” Moving along with lyrics such as “We Lost Control,” the tune was fleshed out with an abrasive guitar solo by Gallik while Hensley rocked out on the keytar. This inspired the audience to raise their fists in the air and remain cheerful throughout. Skytown Riot closed out with the magnifying “Soul or System” that gave the entire band a chance to shine, including Dunkel on drums and Fruchey on bass. There are no upcoming tour dates, but hopefully that means they are back in the studio to record their full-length studio album.

As the venue continued to fill up, Islander, from Greenville, South Carolina, was ready to provoke emotion in the crowd. It has been non-stop push for these fierce creatures since they launched their debut album Violence & Destruction in 2014 via Victory Records. Formed in 2011, and currently re-defining their lineup with lead member Mikey Carvajal (lead vocals) along with newest members, J.R. Bareis (guitar), touring member Joe Rickard on drums, and looking for a new bass player after Chris Doot’s recent departure, the mixture between signed and touring members did not matter because it was time for them to command the ship filled with Rockin’ abundance.

Opening their set with “Cold Speak,” Carvajal ran across the stage, garnishing the audience’s attention with adrenaline and a rush of emotion. Keeping the level of energy high, it was during the performance of “Counteract” and “Side Effects of Youth” where Carvajal swam to his fans, as he clutched into the abyss of the crowd. They continued with their robust song “Lucky Rabbit” off of their 2013 EP Pains. Showcasing a stage presence that surpasses anyone’s exceptions, they continued to flourish with “New Wave.”

Their performance was adventurous as they went into “Criminals” and closed with favorite “Coconut Dracula,” having everyone yearning to hear more. With only one full-length record out, one has to wonder what is next for this band whose stock is rising fast. They are currently on the road again, this time with acts P.O.D and From Ashes to New until the middle of July.

The night shifted to a new dimension, a galaxy of spacious demonstrations, when the mystifying Starset arrived. Based in Columbus, Ohio, it has been a long ride since their original formation in 2013, touring throughout with their not yet official statement about who or what they really are. Theoretically, they are part of what they call a “Starset Society.” This galactic exhibit consists of Dustin Bates (lead vocals/keyboard), Ron DeChant (bass/keyboard/backing vocals), Brock Richards (guitar/backing vocals) and Adam Gilbert (drums). Signed with Razor & Tie, they released their first full-length album Transmissions in 2014 to acclaim from critics and fans alike. Now they returned to New York City once again, a destination that has welcomed them each time they circle the area.

The incredible lighting alone, sparked the energy from the crowd and added to the dramatics of their set. Awakening all with the introduction of “First Light,” the crowd star-gazed at their astronaut attire. Levitating with the official musical platform, “Rise and Fall” illuminated the venue with extraordinary light and sound. Pulsating along with the empowering “Down With the Fallen” and the elegiac “Antigravity,” Starset lifted off celestial harmonies with their tranquilizing rhythm. “Halo” was up next, which may remind some of the band Orgy mixed with a cosmic touch. Continuing with “Telescope” and hit single “Carnivore,” Bates vocals sounded as pristine as the record. Each track that was performed remained technically in-tune, which enhanced their personal message for all. The thought about the end of the world struck the room with “It Has Begun,” as it rocked everyone to the core in pure bliss.

Bates looked around and confessed who they are to the critical New York crowd, “This is a society that’s asking questions about the near future, about our technology, about how it will affect our lives politically, socially, economically. If you want to know why we are dressed the way we are, why these songs sound the way they do, or have the lyrics they have, there will be a novel coming out later this year.” After their anticipating novel announcement, they closed their set with “The Future is Now” and the heavy, fan favorite “My Demons.” Before leaving the stage for an official departure, Bates grabbed his cellphone and took a photo of the amped up sea of people. Starset’s performance was at a different level, and they will have more demonstrations to explore as they team up with Breaking Benjamin in July.

After a short break and set change, it was time for the headlining act, 10 Years, to grace the stage. Formed in 1999, they have sustained their share of good and bad experiences along the way. They have battled line-up changes, critical installments from record labels, to the focused hit singles and radio play, and finally declaring their indepedence from labels in 2012 with Minus the Machine. It has been a long journey for the group, but they have stuck together and grew even stronger. The line-up presently is frontman Jesse Hasek on vocals, Ryan “Tater” Johnson on guitar/vocals, Brian Vodinh on drums/guitar/production, with touring members Chad Huff on the guitar, Ryan Collier on the bass, and Kyle Mayer on drums. There was no denying the sound behind 10 Years was a infusion of Tool and perhaps The Deftones, but over the years they have morphed into their own style, distinctive to any other in the Hard Rock genre. Supporting their latest record From Birth to Burial, they came to Gramercy Theatre baring their souls for all to listen to, ready to fill the room with their honesty, and most importantly, ready to perform.

Fans instantly began to head-bang the moment 10 Years exploded with a newer track; the heavy “Miscellanea.” Keeping the momentum and spirit flourishing across the venue was “Now is the Time (Ravenous),” off of their 2010 album Feeding the Wolves, followed by one of their latest, “Triggers and Tripwires,” and transitioning directly to 2008’s “Alabama.” These back to back performances energized the crowd and displayed the enlightened spirit of Hasek. He took a moment to look at the venue and admitted how this was his first time playing at the Gramercy Theatre. As honest as ever, with a touch of sarcasm, he expressed how they have been touring for three weeks and he was looking forward to going home to bathe, realizing that it is something people do. Moving right into “Actions & Motives,” Hasek continued to emphasize how grateful he was having fans that have stuck around through 10 Years fifteen plus year career. Recieving a warm wave of cheers, they went into the powerful “Fix Me.” This time, Hasek showed his gratitude by sitting on the rail, leaning into the crowd, thanking as many fans as he could reach, embracing all with a handshake as his voice did not waver.

The evening continued with the acclaimed “The Autumn Effect,” which riled up the audience even more. Instrumental glory kicked in during the brief “Birth–Death” followed by “…And All the Other Colors” from Minus the Machine. Hasek reached out to his fans once again and said, “We’ve been coming to this city for many, many, many years, a lot of business is here. This is the city that never sleeps, and I also realized this is the city that critiques. Sometimes it’s tough love to earn it here. We’ve grown every time we’ve come, and New York man, we’ve never expected this type of thing. It’s always been a love/hate relationship with this city and clearly now, we have a second home away from home here. Thank you guys for supporting us.” Coincidentally the next track was “Beautiful,” and the sound echoed across the room as fans remained mesmerized as well as touched by the brutal honesty by the band.

Hasek did not stop there as he continued to express, “We took a little time off this past year here, worked on some new music to reach down inside of ourselves, to figure out what we have left. To sing, to feel, to live, to take it on stage every night and perform, and we came up with a little record called From Birth to Burial out in April. We’ve been blown away by the reaction from everyone. The mouth’s moving to the brand new songs, shit, you guys know the lyrics better than I do. New York, if you don’t mind, we’re going to play another new one for you to test it out and see if that’s cool.” That is when the band went directly into the new track, “Luna” and sure enough, with the vibe that was flowing that evening, fans welcomed the new material singing each word.

Taking in another moment, Hasek thanked the New York crowd again with how he would come back over and over again if he could. Feeling truly blessed, Hasek continued, “If I can rewind ten years ago, and show myself what we’ve accomplished now, and the road we’ve gone through, I’m pretty sure that kid would be blown away and beyond over satisfied with all of the expectations he’s anticipated. This business is a funny thing, it can lift you up as high as you want, and drop you all the way down. But what I feel that I take from this whole thing is honesty, therapy, emotion; music is emotion. You should feel it, you should bleed it, it should inspire you. At least that’s what it does for us. In a world of Pop songs, ring tones, it feels cool to be relevant. This next song is kind of our first experience and first exposure to the entire world, especially here in The States. We had no idea it would do what it did, we were just kids in a room recording a song. This song will always, until I’m old, gray, and gone, have a special place because, not only did this song give us this dream, our catapult to us into it, it was something deep and dark. I had to speak from my heart, that I need to feel every single night in a different city on stage.” After this beautiful statement, Hasek asked all of their NYC fans to sing along with them to the adored cut of “Wasteland.”

As the night wound down, the splicing track of “Knives” was revealed where Johnson shocked the crowd with his excruciating backing growls. Although it was their final song,“Shoot it Out” showcased their astounding musicianship with massive guitar solos as Hasek jolted into the crowd for one last embrace. The heavy energy stood throughout the entire course up until the very end. The house lights remained off as fans stuck around in hopes to hear more. Shortly after, Hasek and company walked back onto the stage and closed the night with “From Birth to Burial,” as his voice resonated across the venue.

This Friday evening in New York City showcased four remarkable acts, a bill with such diversity and spirit that it worked perfectly together. Each band had a chance to  convey their own message and musical freedom, as though there were no restraints from record labels, sale quotes, or outside judgement. While this run maybe over, 10 Years will be touring again in July for the When the Sky Cracks Open Tour when they play with acts such as Nonpoint, The Family Ruin, and Awaken the Empire.

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